Special guest post from the allergen experts at Ready, Set, Food!
Did you know that every baby is at risk for food allergies?
New research shows that every baby is at risk for food allergies regardless of family history — in fact, over 50% of children with food allergies have no family history. In addition, 1 in 13 children suffer from a food allergy today, and the rate of peanut allergies has tripled over recent years.
The idea of your baby developing a food allergy can be really scary, especially because of how dangerous they can be. Parents with a food allergic child can attest to the daily stress and challenges that come with a food allergy. Thankfully, findings from recent landmark studies on food allergy prevention have changed the way we view food allergies in children away from a place of fear and toward a focus on prevention. These studies show that a baby’s risk of developing food allergies can be reduced by up to 80% through early and frequent exposure to allergenic foods, starting as early as 4-11 months.
This new research on food allergy prevention is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming for parents of infants to know exactly how to follow guideline recommendations. Having a sitter introduce allergens to your baby can also be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on to learn about our tips for making early allergen introduction easy for both parents and sitters!
The Basics of Early Allergen Introduction
In order to help reduce your child’s risk of developing a food allergy, according to the landmark studies and medical guidelines, parents must follow early and sustained allergen exposure by:
- Starting Early: Introduce allergenic foods as early as 4-11 months.
- Introducing One Food at a Time: Following pediatric guidelines, only introduce allergenic foods one at a time every few days to determine how your baby is reacting to each new food you introduce.
- Sustaining Exposure: In the clinical trials, infants were continually exposed to allergenic foods 2-7 times a week for at least 3-6 months. Participants who continued exposure were able to maximize their chance of reducing the risk of developing food allergies.
- Managing Dosage: The PETIT study suggested that a stepwise dosing method is best to maximize safety and efficacy. This means starting with a small amount of allergenic food, and then gradually increasing that amount over time.
Yikes. The basics of early allergen introduction don’t seem so basic after all. Once you add in the challenge of feeding a baby new foods and different feeding routines for every baby into the mix–whew! To help make this process as easy and seamless as possible for busy families and their sitters, Ready, Set, Food! has compiled a cheat sheet of tips on early allergen introduction.
Tips for Easy Allergen Introduction for Parents & Sitters
- Find something that fits your baby’s feeding routine: Whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding, using formula, starting with purees, or following baby-led weaning, it’s important to find a way to introduce allergens to your baby. Note: there is a common misconception that breastfeeding is enough to introduce allergens, but unfortunately, there is inconclusive evidence that supports breastfeeding to prevent food allergies alone.
- Start Early: Studies recommend starting as early as 4-6 months to align with an infant’s critical immune window. This window gives your infant the best opportunity to develop a positive response to new foods.
- Pick the Right Time: Choosing the right time to introduce your baby to allergens is crucial. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician before introducing allergens, especially if your baby has severe eczema. Once you’re ready to start, make sure your baby is healthy and pick a time when an adult can watch your baby for at least 2 hours, just in case of a reaction.
- Don’t give up! Babies are often picky eaters at 4-11 months of age, and it’s hard to get them to consistently eat enough of anything. It’s important to not only introduce allergenic foods, but to also sustain exposure multiple times a week for several months.
It’s safe to say that early allergen introduction can be quite the challenge! Between starting at the right time and managing dosage, all while introducing allergens in a way that matches your baby’s normal routine. That’s why Ready, Set, Food! created an easier way to follow medical guidelines on early allergen introduction. They make it as simple as adding a pre-measured stickpack of organic, non-GMO peanut, egg, and milk to your baby’s bottle or food once a day. Ready, Set, Food! takes the stress out of introducing allergenic foods to your baby, for parents and sitters alike.
Ready, Set, Food! makes early and sustained allergen introduction easy for busy families! For a limited time only, get $20 off your Ready, Set, Food! subscription use code: URBANSITTER20.
All health-related content in this article is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.