When allergic conditions run in the family, parents may be wary of introducing potentially allergenic foods to their children. Yet sometimes, delaying exposure to certain foods can actually increase the risk of an allergy developing. Here are some tips on the best ways and times to introduce foods to children.
What Not to Do
Unless instructed to do so by a physician, you should not limit your diet to non-allergenic foods while nursing. Your infant is least likely to have an allergic reaction to your breast milk and avoiding common allergenic foods while breastfeeding does not prevent food allergy. Breast milk is a great source of nutrition for you baby.
Once your child starts eating solid foods, do not excessively delay introducing potentially allergenic foods without being told to do this by a physician. If you are worried about possible reactions, talk to your doctor and ask if an allergy consultation is needed. Most often, the longer a child goes without being exposed to allergenic foods, the more likely they are to develop the allergy later when the food is finally introduced.
Common Allergenic Foods
There are some foods that commonly produce allergic reactions in children and adults. These foods include:
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts
If you or your spouse have allergies, asthma, or eczema, you may want to be careful when introducing these foods to your child and be mindful of potential reactions. A consultation with an allergy and immunology specialist can give you guidance.
When to Introduce New Foods
You can begin introducing solid foods to your child’s diet at about four to six months of age. Foods which have a lower likelihood to cause allergic reactions, such as fruits, vegetables and cereals should be introduced first followed by the common allergenic foods listed above as tolerated. It is important that you introduce only single ingredient foods, and only introduce one food at a time. You should try one new food for three to five days before moving on to another new food. This way, if an allergic reaction occurs, you will know what food caused the allergy. Allergic reactions from foods may present as immediate, life threatening allergic reactions, eczema, or anywhere in between.
Special guidelines exist for introducing peanuts into your child’s diet for the first time if they have a history of egg allergy, severe eczema, or both. An allergy and immunology specialist can do testing to help determine when and if it is safe to introduce peanuts in these cases.
If your child has any immediate reactions to a food, moderate to severe eczema after trying a new food, egg allergy and/or severe eczema, or if they have a sibling with a peanut allergy, it is important to consult with an allergy and immunology specialist. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment for allergy testing and examination.