How to introduce the common allergy causing foods
Once your baby shows signs they are ready for solid foods, it is important to introduce foods to support your baby’s nutrition needs. Foods containing iron (e.g. iron enriched cereals, meats, poultry, fish, well cooked egg, tofu and legumes) should be included from around 6 months of age.
It is also important to feed your baby the common allergy causing foods before one year of age to help prevent food allergies. If possible, continue to breastfeed while you introduce solid foods to your baby. If breastfeeding is not possible, a standard cow’s milk-based infant formula can be given.
How do you know your baby is ready for first foods?
Signs that your baby is ready to start eating solid foods include:
- Your baby has good head and neck control and can sit upright when supported.
- Your baby shows an interest in food. For example, they look at or reach out for your food.
- Your baby opens their mouth when offered food on a spoon.
- Your baby has an increased appetite, is feeding more often, and wants more breast milk or formula at the end of their usual feed.
How do you introduce the common allergy causing foods?
Introduce the common allergy causing foods one at a time. By introducing only one common allergy causing food at each meal, it will make it easier to identify the problem food if an allergic reaction occurs.
You should continue to introduce and feed your baby the other common allergy causing foods. Only avoid foods that you think your baby has had an allergic reaction to. If an allergic reaction occurs, you should stop feeding your baby that food and see your doctor for medical advice.
Once you have fed your baby the common allergy causing foods, it is important to continue to include these foods in your baby’s meals at least twice a week.
If you are worried about giving your baby an allergy causing food, you can place a small amount of the food on the inside of their lip to start. Never rub food on your baby’s skin, especially in babies with eczema, as this may increase the chance of your baby developing a food allergy.
Food ideas and recipes to help keep the allergy causing foods in your baby’s diet are available here.
How much of the allergy causing foods should I feed my baby?
There is no clear research about how much of the common allergy causing foods your baby needs to eat to prevent food allergy, so it is recommended that you start with a small amount. Start with a quarter of a teaspoon and increase the amount as your baby grows and eats more.
What about the texture of food?
Your baby needs to learn about different textures of food as they develop. Start with smooth foods and then quickly move to soft lumpy foods and finger foods, allowing your baby to eat the foods in the same way as the rest of the family.
Children under 5 years of age should only be given peanuts or tree nuts as a smooth nut butter or paste or as nuts ground up to be a powder or flour.
More information including food ideas and recipes are available here.
What if my baby is allergic to a food?
If your baby has had what could be an allergic reaction or is allergic to a particular food, do not feed your baby that food until you have seen a doctor.
More information about allergic reactions and what to do is available here.
What if our family doesn’t eat a particular food?
As it is important to continue to feed your baby the common allergy causing foods once introduced, you should only feed them the foods that you are able to continue to feed them. Your baby will eventually be eating family foods, so if your family does not eat a particular food, you may choose not to introduce that particular food to your baby, knowing that they are not likely to continue eating it once they are able to eat family meals. You may wish to discuss this with your doctor or an allergy dietitian.