The introduction of allergens in a baby's diet raises a lot of questions for parents. Here are some answers that will help clarify a little.
When and how should I introduce allergens into my baby's diet?
The introduction of solid foods, including allergens, should be done around six months of age. In fact, according to the most recent studies on the subject, delaying the consumption of allergenic foods after the age of six months would not prevent the development of a food allergy in the newborn.
How to proceed?
- Make sure your child is physically ready for solid foods. For example, he should be able to sit up unaided and adequately control the muscles in his neck.
- Start with foods rich in iron (iron-fortified baby cereal, meat, poultry, fish, egg, tofu, legumes), especially if your child is breastfeeding. Then, the order in which you introduce the foods you present to your child will depend on your family's eating habits.
- Introduce your child to one new food at a time and wait three days before introducing another. In this way, you will be able to identify a possible allergic reaction and the food involved.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life until solid foods are introduced. Breast milk will then continue to meet up to half of the baby's nutritional needs, in addition to solid foods. Until the age of one year, milk is the baby's main food.
If you have made the choice not to breastfeed your child or if you can't do so, be aware that just like breastfeeding, commercial infant formula constitutes the bulk of infant feeding until the introduction of solid foods, after which the milk will gradually become complementary.
My child is at risk of developing food allergies. Is it better to introduce allergenic foods before he turns six months old?
It is recognized that the risk of developing a food allergy for a child is higher if immediate family members live with an allergic condition (eczema, food allergy, asthma, allergic rhinitis). The same is true if the child has a personal history of atopy, for example, if he has eczema.
According to a guideline from the Canadian Pediatric Society, it is now recommended to introduce solid allergenic foods in high-risk children around six months of age (but not before four months of age), or as soon as they are ready to eat solid foods.
The following tips are also put forward by the Canadian Pediatric Society:
If you are breastfeeding your baby, the practice should be continued at least until the age of two, because of its immunological and developmental benefits.
Introduce one allergenic food at a time, which will allow you to watch for possible allergic reactions. However, it is not recommended to wait unnecessarily before introducing another food.
If your child tolerates an allergenic food, continue to offer it regularly, a few times a week, to allow him to maintain his tolerance to this allergen.
In case of a reaction to food, consult a doctor or an allergist.
Is there a greater risk for my child to develop a food allergy if certain foods are introduced later in their diet?
Sometimes the introduction of certain foods is delayed in some children due to family eating habits. We think, for example, of meat for vegetarians and eggs for vegans. Could this delay have an impact on the development of your child's food allergies?
It is difficult to answer this question because several factors are taken into account (the age of the child, the fact that he attends a childcare center where food is introduced, his risk factors, etc.). In addition, few studies have been conducted on the subject.
However, it appears that delaying the introduction of an allergenic food may increase the risk of later developing a food allergy to that food. A study published in 2010 showed that children who were introduced to eggs at the age of one had a 3.4 times higher risk of developing an allergy to this food than those who consumed it since the age of six months.
In the meantime, the best course of action is to see your child's doctor or allergist.
What are the signs and symptoms that would tell me my baby is allergic to food?
It may be difficult to identify the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction in a newborn baby. This is because the manifestations of food allergies are sometimes different from those of children or adults.
Here are some possible manifestations of food allergy in infants:
Red, swollen patches on the body;
Swelling of the lips or face;
Repeated difficulty in drinking;
Vomiting in jets;
Mucus or blood in the stool;
Insufficient weight gain;
If you are breastfeeding your baby, be aware that some food allergens can be excreted in breast milk, such as peanuts, milk, soy, and eggs. So even if your child has not yet started to eat solid foods, they may still react to certain foods. So be careful!
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA
My family ordered a week's worth of food from Food Allergy Concierge during the most recent lockdown. Having the food on hand, and knowing that it was safe for everyone in the family to eat, helped turn the lockdown into a stay-cation! We were still able to take a break from cooking and worrying, and we look forward to using FAC's services again in the future.
We are so lucky we found this company to help us while our son was traveling. They provided allergy-safe baked goods and delivered them to his hotel so he could have bread and pastries on his month-long Israel trip. It was very easy ordering and communicating his needs. I would definitely use the food allergy concierge again the next time he travels to Israel.