By Cathy Monaghan MSc, H.Dip, RD.

Up to 95% of babies don’t have a food allergy and early exposure is the key to reducing the risk of food allergy further!


The advice about introducing allergens has changed in recent years. Your mother may tell you that she was told to avoid peanuts during pregnancy and to delay the introduction until baby is over two. This may still be the advice in older weaning books. However, evidence suggests that this approach is of no benefit and may have contributed to the increase in the number of food allergies.


Recent studies have discovered that the introduction of allergen’s before 12 months of age can reduce the risk of food allergy.


Potential Allergens


The most common food allergies in the first few years of life include cow’s milk, eggs, peanut, tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts), soya, fish and shellfish.


Risk Factors of Allergy


If your baby has eczema, try to ensure their skin is clear and intact before introducing an allergen. If your baby has severe eczema or a confirmed allergy, then speak with your doctor and or dietitian before you introduce another allergen at home.


How to Introduce Allergens

Although it may seem daunting, try not to let this get in the way of offering your baby allergens early in weaning.


Wean your baby at around 6 months of age. My Weaning Masterclass will help you understand all the signs of readiness. Aim to introduce each allergen before your baby’s first birthday, even if they are not something you eat regularly.


Top Tips:

  • Choose a day that your baby is well and in good form.

  • Offer at home and early in the day so you can monitor symptoms.

  • Introduce each allergen one at a time. (If you introduce two together and your baby reacts, it will be hard to know which one is causing the reaction).

  • Re-introduce a second time and wait 72 hours before moving onto your next potential allergen.

  • When introducing an allergen, offer in a suitable consistency straight from a spoon so you are certain that they have ingested some. You can mix with a previously tolerated food such as puree vegetables.

  • Offer age-appropriate textures, for example, smooth peanut butter rather than crunchy or well mashed hard-boiled egg.

  • Start with small amounts, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, and gradually increase over a few days if no reaction occurs.

  • Once successfully introduced, try to include in their diet at least once a week.

How do I know if my baby is having an allergic reaction?

Your gut feeling will tell you that something is wrong. Also, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Hives or welts.

  • Flushed skin or rash.

  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling.

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea.

  • Coughing or wheezing.

  • Difficulty breathing.

  • Loss of consciousness.

If you notice one or more of these symptoms after introducing an allergen to your baby, contact your GP.


Some foods like citrus, tomato, and strawberries can cause a red rash around your baby’s mouth. This irritation isn’t a food allergy. This is called a contact reaction and there is no need to avoid these foods.

Remember, once you ticked the box and have successfully introduced the allergenic foods, you will have great peace of mind.

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