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Early Allergen Introduction: Is Feeding Allergenic Foods To Babies Safe?

June 02, 2021 3 min read

At SpoonfulONE, we know that feeding potential allergens early and often can help babies grow up accustomed to food as food. 

Groundbreaking clinical studies, like the LEAP and EAT, have taught us that babies who were given allergenic foods as a regular part of their diet were less likely to develop a food allergy. 

And research has also shown us that allergic reactions get more severe as your baby gets older. That's why early allergen introduction is essential in helping your baby have a thriving future with food. 

But with early allergen introduction, comes allergen safety concerns. That’s why we’re here to cover some of your most common concerns. 

When Is It Safe To Introduce Allergens To Baby

According to the AAP and the USDA’s latest guidelines, you can (and should!) start introducing allergenic foods to your baby alongside other solids. 

In fact, due to numerous studies, experts now consider it safe for your child to start allergen introduction as early as four months, rather than later in life. 

If your child is at a higher risk for developing allergies, like severe eczema, you may want to check with your pediatrician before introducing allergens. But according to the latest AAP guidelines, early allergen introduction is recommended for all babies with no need for prior screening from or consultation with a physician.

Baby Safety Concerns

  • Will my child have an allergic reaction?
  • Unless your child is at a higher risk for developing food allergies, recent clinical research shows that the longer you wait to introduce allergenic foods, the higher the risks. 

  • Is it safe to feed babies more than one allergen at a time?
  • The latest edition of “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, published by the AAP provides the following advice: “In the past pediatricians recommended starting one new food every few days, so that you can see if a reaction occurs to that particular food. New research has shown that it is safe to start multiple foods at once. Within two or three months, your baby’s daily diet should include breast milk, iron-fortified whole-grain cereals, vegetables, meats (including fish), eggs, fruits, and nut butters (but never whole nuts) distributed among three meals.”

  • Is it safe to serve cow’s milk?
  • Cow’s milk as a drink should not be introduced into your child’s diet until they are at least 1 year old. However, the protein can be introduced as a nutritional supplement, in other forms, such as yogurt or cottage cheese, alongside other solids when your baby reaches 4-6 months of age.

  • How can I safely serve peanuts and tree nuts?
  • Nut butters can have too thick or sticky of a texture for babies to swallow, and whole or crushed nuts can serve as a choking hazard. Instead, introduce tree nuts or peanuts in a form that is appropriate for your baby. If introducing a nut butter, thin it first with water, formula, or breastmilk. You can also mix nut butters into purees, applesauce or yogurt. 

    Allergen Introduction Requires Maintenance

    “One bite" exposure to foods is not enough for allergen introduction. Instead, it is essential to build up a maintenance routine within, and beyond, your child’s first year of life. 

    Research shows the immune system works best when it's exposed to a wide variety of foods regularly throughout a child’s early years. That’s why at SpoonfulONE, we believe regular, consistent exposure to common allergens in the diet throughout early childhood is key to staying healthy.