Babies go through several important milestones in their first year, one of them being starting to eat solid foods. This can be an exciting time of adventure and discovery for your little one as their taste buds slowly start to evolve. They learn what they like and dislike and try out new textures and tastes. However, this is also the time when you learn if your little is allergic to any foods. If you’re concerned about your baby having food allergies, don’t worry, this is fairly common. The important thing to remember is that parents can play a part in allergy development. You do this by feeding them allergens from an early stage and regularly. This may help to stop developing a food allergy later on in life. Milk, namely cow milk and eggs are two foods that many kids are allergic to nowadays. So, let’s see how you can introduce them into your child’s meals so that their bodies get used to them.
The North American Allergy Societies updated its guidelines in 2020, and recommended introducing all allergens to all babies, not only high risk babies, as early as 4 to 6 months old (1). The best way to do it is to feed your baby one food allergen at a time. You can do this once a day for three days a week. When you are doing this make sure to monitor your tiny tot closely for any adverse reactions. Each day, you can increase the amount of the allergen that your baby ingests. Here’s what a typical schedule for introducing and monitoring allergens looks like:
- Day 1 : You offer your baby a small amount of the allergen and closely observe and monitor their reaction to it. Most allergic reactions occur anywhere between a few minutes to two hours after exposure to the allergen.
- Day 2: Offer a slightly larger amount of that same food and then monitor for reactions.
- Day 3: You can increase the amount of food you offer to what you’d consider a normal serving size for your baby. And then monitor them for any reaction.
Keep in mind that it is still possible for your child to have an allergic reaction to the foods even after the three days of introduction. The more consistently you offer the allergen, the higher your chances of reducing the risk of a food allergy.
When one has a milk allergy their immune system overreacts to the milk protein. The best way to avoid this is to start introducing dairy into your child’s diet from a young age. It could be in the form of yogurt, cheese, and cow’s milk that is cooked in foods. Do this just as your child starts to eat solid foods. However, cow’s milk and alternative milk options are considered as beverages and should not be given to your baby until they reach 12 months old. The only appropriate nutrient source for your baby before the age of 1 comes from breast milk or formula. Full-fat unsweetened cow’s milk yogurt is a great baby friendly way to introduce your little one to the world of diary. You can start by giving them one teaspoon for day 1 and 2, and then increase it to 2 teaspoons on day 3. Do this every other week and your baby should be perfectly fine acclimating to other dairy products as they grow older.
Just like milk, an egg allergy is the immune system’s reaction to the protein in the food. However, daily incorporation of eggs in the diet of high-risk infants like those with eczema, even as young as 4 months old, can reduce the prevalence of an egg allergy appearing later down the line (2). While some kids may show signs of being allergic to eggs, they may be able to tolerate foods where eggs are used to some degree. So, baking muffins or making pancakes is perfectly okay. But you must keep in mind that after a certain point, if their allergy get’s severe enough, your child might have a full blown reaction if they have eggs of any quantity and any form. So, make sure to monitor them closely. If you want to introduce eggs to your baby, start by hard boiling and then pureeing them. You can also fork mash scrambled eggs. Then give them half a teaspoon on the first day, 1 teaspoon on the second day and 2 on the third day.
Finding out that your baby is allergic to commonly used foods like milk and eggs is disheartening. But introducing them as allergens can stop this from happening. So, make sure to introduce these two foods to your baby as soon as possible to reap the benefits!