Food Allergies in Babies: What Every Parent Needs To Know

Here are the top eight food allergies in babies to watch out for, plus how to spot allergies in babies and how to prevent food allergies in the first place.

Here are the top eight food allergies in babies to watch out for, plus how to spot allergies in babies and how to prevent food allergies in the first place.

When I was pregnant with Griffin eight years ago, the collective advice was to avoid allergenic foods if you want to prevent your child from having food allergies. Fast forward eight years later to my third pregnancy, and the recommendation is the exact opposite.

So what gives?

New Research Regarding Food Allergies in Babies

Well, it’s not just your imagination that it seems like more kids have food allergies these days. Researchers found these avoidance diets were actually increasing the incidences of food allergies in babies, peanut allergies in particular.

There have been three landmark studies in particular that not only offer hope, but have also prompted this huge change in the recommendations surrounding food allergies.

What the most recent research says about food allergies in babies

  1. This study showed that introducing peanuts/nut butter to at-risk babies before the age of 11 months dramatically reduces the risk of developing a peanut allergy up to 80 percent.
  2. Another study found that early introduction in addition to extended breastfeeding reduced the risk of developing an allergy.
  3. Researchers also found that early introduction to hen’s eggs reduced allergies by 79 percent.

The New Guidelines Surrounding Food Allergies in Babies

As a result of this, there’s a whole new philosophy when it comes to food allergies in babies. The FDA, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all updated their guidelines to support the science behind early and sustained allergen introduction.

  • FDA: Recommends introducing highly allergenic food, such as peanuts, between 4 and 10 months.
  • NIH: Suggests that babies between the age of 4 and 6 months should have an “age-appropriate” peanut source. (Read on to learn more about age-appropriate peanut sources.)
  • AAP: Recommends introducing peanuts to high-risk infants by the age of 4 to 6 months. (High-risk infants have egg allergies and/or severe eczema.)

Note: Although many guidelines suggest you can begin introducing allergens as early as four months, there are plenty of reasons to wait until six months to do so. Read more about when to introduce solids.

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How to Introduce Allergens

So how exactly do you introduce allergens to babies?

Start with breastfeeding

Certain proteins in breastmilk can help prevent food allergies in breastfed babies. In fact, a 2018 study revealed that mother’s milk was able to reduce food-related anaphylaxis by helping the offspring tolerate the allergy. (source)

Go slow and steady

You need to introduce all eight of the most common allergens to baby, but you shouldn’t introduce them all at once. Why? If your baby does have a reaction to a certain food, it’s hard to pinpoint which food caused the reaction. Wait at least three days between introducing new foods.

Try a program like Ready, Set, Food!

Consider using a program that can help you safely and effectively introduce allergens. I recommend Ready, Set, Food!, an allergist-developed system that allows you to gradually and gently introduce your baby (by mixing powder into breast milk or your baby’s bottle) to peanuts, eggs, and cow’s milk. It’s a really simple way to do it—you don’t have to worry about whether you’re introducing the right amount or calculate your own timeline, since everything is pre-portioned and ready to go. You can read the full review here.

Ready Set Food reduces the risk of developing food allergies by up to 80%

Continue exposure

After early introduction, the key is to keep providing that food for at least three to six months. This is called sustained introduction, and it is just as important as the early introduction itself.

Talk to your pediatrician

The studies all demonstrate that starting early is much more beneficial than waiting until 11 or 12 months of age. Delaying introduction past this timeframe increases the risk of food allergies in babies. That said, no two babies are exactly the same, and your pediatrician can help you determine what’s right for your child if you have any concerns.

How About You?

Have you tried early introduction? What worked (and what didn’t)? Have you tried a program instead? Share your experiences below!

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

10 Comments

  1. This is interesting. Peanuts really scared me, and I was all for this until it said to mix with breast milk in a bottle. It’s been 5 months and try as I might she will not take a bottle. I don’t really like peanuts either so eating them is difficult for me. I do eat lots of other nuts though. Maybe I should pick up some trail mix to sneak some peanuts into my diet like I do with the older kids?

  2. Question: What are the ingredients of your Ready Set Food packets? Curious.
    Thank you,
    Debra Kyler RD, LD, IBCLC

  3. There are many kids with allergies- I see the notices in staff rooms when visiting schools. My question is: do kids grow out of these allergies- or not? And what can we do to make life easier for these kids, and their families and schools? Some answers, I’m sure, would be appreciated by many.

    • That really depends on the child and the allergy. Some children are able to go through immunity trials to lessen the affects of their allergy. It’s all case by case dependent.

  4. Hey there, my sons eczema flares when I eat dairy (he is exclusively breastfed).

    Does this rule out using ready set food?

    Thank you!

    • Making your own food is a good way to avoid cross contamination. Pre-made baby food that are for early eaters aren’t likely to have any dairy, usually just fruit and vegetables.

  5. I am concerned because with my first I had no restrictions diet wise while nursing and he is 4 and has no allergies. however, the past three years I have found I have food allergies and sensitivities so I havent had gluten nuts eggs sesame dairy for three years…we have a 5 mo and she has started breaking out in hives and found out it is from touching egg! SO I am concerned that since I cant eat these foods and I am exclusively nursing her that she is going to have a lot of trouble! She already shows issues with eggs. My ped doesn’t want to introduce egg to her diet for awhile.

  6. Both of my boys showed signs of allergy within the first weeks of life. So I avoided foods (many many foods) while breastfeeding and they were challenged slowly. My 4yo still cannot tolerate dairy, soy or eggs and is low fodmap. My youngest is 7 months and is OK with eggs now but not dairy and soy yet. There is no one size fits all with allergies. I’m from Australia which has the highest incidence of allergy in the world.

  7. This is a fabulous article with some wonderful information. I always find your site extremely informative and will often direct new moms in your direction. Just a note, the allergy portion of your article is a little outdated. At least in a Canada, we are now encouraged to start babies on peanuts, entire eggs and so on from a young age.

    • The previous comment was not directed at this article, website error posted here. My comment was directed towards you baby led weaning article.


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