Food allergies among children in the UK are on the rise and introducing allergens to their baby is daunting for a lot of parents. Here is the good news: food allergies are still a rather rare event if you look at the overall population. Only 7 out of 100 babies will develop a food allergy.
Once you have started introducing solids around the age of 6 months, there is no reason to delay the introduction of allergens. In fact, studies have shown that an early introduction of allergens can prevent babies from developing food allergies.
There are 8 allergens, which cause 90% of food allergies in children: Wheat, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish and soy.
Follow Dr Sophie’s 3-step approach to introducing allergens and your little one will devour a whole new range of foods in no time.
- Introduce allergens one by one. This way you will be able to tell which one gave your little one an allergic reaction.
- Give a small amount of the allergen early in the day (breakfast or lunch), so you can monitor your little one for reactions. Repeat this with increasing amounts of the allergen for 2 more days.
- After these three days, you can continue with the next allergen. Continue offering previous allergens frequently (eg weekly) to your little one, so their body can remember the exposure.
Once you have mastered these steps for every allergen and haven’t noticed any reactions, you can start mixing the allergens and give them at the same time. If you do notice a reaction such as an itchy rash, diarrhea or vomiting, stop giving the allergen immediately and consult your GP. Read our blog article to find out more about the symptoms and diagnosis of food allergies.
Here are some ideas how you can prepare allergens for your little one:
Wheat: Soft toast, muffins or pasta
Dairy: Soft cheese (mozzarella), cottage cheese with berries or Greek yogurt
Eggs: Scrambled or as omelette, boiled eggs cut in quarters
Tree nuts: Ground hazelnuts sprinkled on oats, almond butter spread on a soft slice of pear
Peanuts: Peanut butter with banana, mix peanut butter into home-made teething biscuits
Fish: Salmon or tuna as finger food or pureed with green veggies
Shellfish: crabmeat added to purees
Soy: baked or fried tofu as finger food or sprinkled on top of purees instead of cheese
Allergy UK has helpful information leaflets for parents with allergic children.