Food Allergy

Food Allergy

Print Food Allergy and Starting Solid Food

Starting Solids

From what we know about food allergies, these might help prevent allergies:

  • If possible breastfeed your baby and keep breastfeeding when they start solid food.
  • Continue to breastfeed until they are at least 12 months old.
  • Do not delay starting solid food. Offer solid food at around six months of age, but not before four months.

Together these three signs show you, your baby is ready for solid food::

  • they can control their tongue and do not stick it out when given food
  • they can hold their head up without support
  • they show an interest in food.

Do not wait more than six months to try solid food because:

  • your baby needs extra food to grow
  • your baby needs more iron than they can get from breast milk or formula
  • some older babies may not be as willing to try new tastes and textures.

Babies do not need food before four months because:

  • breastfeeding or infant formula is all they need
  • they cannot digest food very well
  • it may increase their risk of developing food allergy.

Offer foods like nut and eggs to your baby within their first twelve months

Offer common allergy causing foods to your baby within their first twelve months This includes babies who have a family history of food allergy*. Studies show delaying the introduction of these foods increases chances of developing allergy. Common foods include egg, peanut, cows milk (dairy), tree nuts, soy, sesame, wheat, fish and other seafood. Once introduced, continue to offer the food regularly (twice a week).

How to start solids

Start with pureed food then gradually vary the texture to mashed, then cut up finger foods. Foods can be given in any order. Start with iron rich foods like baby cereal, meat, poultry, fish and legumes.

Offer new foods in the morning. That way you can watch for signs of reactions over the day. You can mix new foods with foods your baby is already eating.

Signs of a reaction

Reactions to food can be a rash, swelling and trouble breathing. Reactions occur within minutes or up to two hours. Stop feeding the food. Seek medical advice. Call an ambulance on 000 if the reaction is severe or if you are worried.

Further information about the signs and symptoms of mild to moderate and severe (anaphylaxis) allergic reactions, is available from the ASCIA www.allergy.org.au

How to introduce common allergenic foods like nut, egg and wheat

Smearing food on the skin will not help to identify possible food allergies, but you can rub a small amount of the food on the inside of your baby’s lip as a starting point. Never rub food on infant skin, especially if they have eczema.

Give well cooked egg and smooth peanut butter in small amounts to begin with. Start with about a 1/4 of a baby spoon. Mix a small amount of hard-boiled egg or smooth peanut butter into foods your baby is already eating for example vegetable puree. If there is no reaction after a few minutes, you can start giving small amounts of the food. Gradually increase the amount (1/2 a teaspoon at a time) over the next few days if your baby is not having any allergic reactions.

If your baby has a food allergy

If your baby is allergic to a food it is important to offer other foods which give the same nutrition. For example if your baby is allergic to cow’s milk keep breastfeeding. If using infant formula, use a cow’s milk free commercial infant formula. If your baby is allergic to wheat use wheat alternatives such as rice and corn.

Family members with food allergies

If other members of the family have food allergies, it is still important to introduce those foods to your baby. To keep the family member with food allergies safe, you can:

  • Give the food when the family member is not at home.
  • Use separate cooking utensils to prepare and feed your baby and wash them well afterwards.
  • Wash your and your baby’s hands and face with soap after giving the food.
  • Give the food outside the home (for example at a relative’s home) if you don’t want to have the food in the house. Wash hands and face. Check clothing is free of the food allergen before returning home.

Want to know more

This information is of a general nature. Talk to your GP or child health nurse for more advice. Please ask your GP or child health nurse about talking to an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for personal food and nutrition advice.

You can find more information on food allergy prevention here Nip Food Allergy in the Bub

* babies who have parents or a brother or sister with allergic disease (including food allergies) are at higher risk of developing food allergies. This information is of a general nature please see your GP or APD for individualised advice.

Acknowledgement: This information was adapted from ASCIA Information for Parents: How to introduce solid foods to infants and is available at www.allergy.org.au