Introducing Solids with Allergens in Mind

Introducing allergens and first foods

Introducing solids can be a stressful time for all of us, as you just do not know until you begin if your baby may or may not have a reaction to certain foods.

Introducing allergenic foods to babies can be done safely by following a few guidelines and by doing so in the first 6-12 months, you reduce their risks of developing allergies later in life.

There are 10 more commonly known allergens, but there are up to 170 foods that are known to be triggers. Dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, eggs, soy, gluten containing grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats) fish and shellfish are some of the most well-known.

It's important to note that recommendations may vary depending on your baby's individual health and any specific advice from your GP and/or paediatrician.

Here are some general steps to safely introduce allergenic foods and you can read more excellent information at ASCIA:

  1. Start with Single-Ingredient Foods: Begin with single-ingredient solid foods rather than mixed or processed foods. This makes it easier to identify any potential allergens and monitor your baby's reaction.
  2. Introduce One Allergenic Food at a Time: Introduce one allergenic food at a time and wait for a few days before introducing another. This allows you to observe any potential allergic reactions and identify the specific food causing it.
  3. Choose the Right Time: Introduce allergenic foods when your baby is generally healthy and showing signs of readiness for solid foods (usually around 6 months of age). Avoid introducing allergenic foods during periods of illness or when your baby is unwell.
  4. Start with Small Quantities: Begin with a small quantity of the allergenic food, such as a teaspoonful, and gradually increase the amount over time. It is an idea to rub the inside of baby's mouth with the food to see if there is any reaction before moving to teaspoons. 
  5. Observe for Allergic Reactions: After introducing an allergenic food, carefully watch for any signs of an allergic reaction, which may include skin rashes, hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
  6. Repeat Regular Exposure: To help prevent the development of food allergies, it is recommended to offer allergenic foods regularly once they have been introduced successfully. This helps to build tolerance over time.
  7. Discuss with Your GP or Paediatrician: If you have any family history of allergies in the family, you should talk to your GP or if you have one, your paediatrician before introducing allergenic foods. They can provide guidance specific to your baby's health history, family history of allergies, and individual circumstances.

It's worth noting that certain high-risk infants, such as those with severe eczema or a known food allergy, may require additional precautions or an evaluation by an allergist before introducing allergenic foods. Your paediatrician can provide appropriate recommendations based on your baby's specific needs.

Remember, introducing allergenic foods is an individual process, and it's important to proceed cautiously while paying close attention to your baby's reactions.