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Introducing Allergens: What You Need to Know
Mounting evidence suggests that early exposure prevents allergy development.
A Tough Nut to Crack:
For many years, mothers were instructed by their friends, family members, and even doctors to avoid introducing allergens for the first few years of life, ideally until the age of 3. There’s new evidence, however, that introducing allergens into an infant’s diet early on – at about 6 months of age – may actually help prevent allergies.
For example, the risk of developing a peanut allergy was 10 times higher among Jewish children in the United Kingdom than in Israeli children of similar ancestry. This difference is due to when the peanuts were introduced. In the U.K. infants are typically not exposed to peanuts within the first year of life, whereas in Israel peanut-based foods are usually introduced at 7 months.
A trial by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), found that “regular peanut consumption begun in infancy and continued until 5 years of age led to an 81% reduction in developing peanut allergies in infants deemed at high risk because they had severe eczema, egg allergy or both.” Below are a few tips on how to introduce your little one to allergens.
Consult with Your Pediatrician
You should consult with an allergist, pediatrician, or general practitioner prior to feeding your little one an allergen. Especially if they have a family history of severe allergies.
Start with small servings. Use small doses so you can gauge your kid’s reaction. Also, do not give whole nuts, as they are a choking hazard.
No Added Sugar or Salt
Make sure to check your labels, as nut butter can often be packed with sugar.
Try Powdered Nut Butters:
The powdered version of nut butters makes it easy to add a small amount to your baby’s puree, mashed bananas, or other foods.
Most Common Food Allergies:
- Tree Nuts
You’ve probably noticed that your baby is showing increasing interest in books – yay! At this age, you should read books to your baby that name or label multiple characters. Around the 11-month mark, babies will more intently focus on a book and its images if there are individual character names.
Babies respond extremely well to prompts during story time. For example, you can pause in the middle of the story and ask them to point at the red balloon on the page. Try to make story times interactive and encourage your child to participate.