You’ve decided it’s time to introduce allergens to your little one. But with early introduction comes a ton of questions - how often should I feed common allergens? How much? Do I feed them all at once, or one by one?
We know there’s a lot to consider when starting your little one’s early allergen introduction journey, and that’s why we’re here to answer some of your most pressing questions.
Any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction and so far, over 160 foods have been identified. Here are the Top 9 recognized by the FDA as responsible for over 90%* of all allergic reactions.
While foods like tree nuts, peanuts, and eggs might be easy to get on your baby’s plate, it’s a lot more confusing when it comes to shellfish, sesame, soy, and some of these other allergens.
New USDA guidelines, as well as the AAP, recommend that common allergens be introduced alongside other foods at 4-6 months. This time acts as a critical window of immune system development where your little one’s tummy can start seeing foods as just food.
If you miss this window, as long as your child has not already developed food allergies, it is not too late. Research now shows that early and regular dietary exposure to a food within their first year of life and beyond is essential in helping to reduce the risk of developing an allergy to that food.
As long as your baby is eating solids, try to keep their diet full of common allergens in appropriate, baby-friendly formats.
Before your baby's first taste of any new allergens, make sure they are healthy. With no other symptoms, you will be able to accurately measure your child’s response to these foods.
You also want to know your child’s risk level. If there is a history of food allergies in the family, or your little one has severe eczema in the form of dry, itchy skin and rashes, you will want to consult with your pediatrician before introducing new foods.
When it comes to feeding allergens one by one, versus all at once, both are acceptable and safe methods of introduction. However, there are studies that show feeding more than one allergen at a time results in more benefits.
A study by Dr. Kari Nadeau, globally renowned pediatric allergist and founder of SpoonfulONE, found that feeding multiple proteins simultaneously resulted in greater benefits than feeding one or two proteins to support tolerance to those foods.
According to Dr. David Jeong, there is "no order to which it's recommended to introduce [allergens].” In fact, he makes a point to say, “it's not the order that matters, but getting them all introduced early and consistently!”
Regardless of the method you chose, just remember to have fun as you let your little one explore new foods, tastes, and textures!
There is no hard and fast rule regarding the amounts of each allergen that should be introduced. Rather, try to keep them in regular rotation through your child’s diet as much as you can.
Depending on a baby's risk of developing allergies, there are different guidelines to follow according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
A lack of diet diversity is a known risk factor for developing a food allergy. At SpoonfulONE, we advise parents to keep allergens in their baby’s diet every day for the best results.