Introducing foods and allergy prevention
- Solid foods can be introduced to your baby around 6 months (not before 4 months) and when your baby is ready. If possible, breastfeed your baby while you are giving them solid foods. This advice is for all babies, even if they have severe eczema and/or food allergy, or if a parent or sibling has allergies.
- When giving solid foods to your baby, include common allergy causing foods by 12 months. These foods include egg, peanut, cow’s milk (dairy), tree nuts, soy, sesame, wheat, fish and other seafood. Studies show that this may reduce the chance of babies having food allergy.
- Solid foods should be given in a form suited for your baby’s age. You may start with well cooked egg and smooth peanut butter/paste in small amounts. You may choose to do this during day time rather than night time. This allows you to watch your baby and respond if they have an allergic reaction.
- You can rub a small amount of the food inside your baby’s lip as a starting point. If there is no allergic reaction after a few minutes, start giving small amounts of the food. Please note that minor redness around the mouth is most often due to skin irritation and is not usually due to an allergic reaction. Never smear or rub food on your baby’s skin, as this will not help to identify possible food allergies.
- If you need guidance you can mix a small amount (¼ teaspoon) of hard-boiled egg or smooth peanut butter/paste into your baby’s usual food (such as vegetable puree). If your baby is not having any allergic reactions, gradually increase the amount, such as ½ teaspoon the next time.
- Continue to give the foods to your baby regularly (twice weekly) as part of a varied diet, to maintain tolerance. Trying a food and then not giving it regularly may result in food allergy development.
- Even if you follow this advice some babies may still develop a food allergy. If your baby has an allergic reaction, stop giving that food and seek advice from your doctor. Allergic reactions most often occur quickly, within minutes.
- If your baby already has food allergies, see your doctor for advice, testing, treatment and an action plan. Babies with cow’s milk, wheat or multiple food allergies should also be seen by a dietitian to help maintain healthy food intake. Avoiding these foods can affect your baby’s growth and development.
© ASCIA 2018
ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand
Postal address: PO Box 450 Balgowlah NSW 2093 Australia
This document has been developed and peer reviewed by ASCIA members and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner. Development of this document is not funded by any commercial sources and is not influenced by commercial organisations.
Content updated October 2018