Weaning Week! Weaning your allergic baby

By The Gut Health Doctor Team

Dr Megan Rossi in a lab looking through a microscope

Introducing your baby to solid foods, particularly if they’re at a higher risk of a food allergy, may feel quite scary. It’s totally normal to feel anxious – to bring you the latest advice and help you get started, we’ve teamed up with Allergy UK.

How do you know if your baby is high risk?

Babies with eczema (especially if it’s more severe) and babies who already have a food allergy are considered to be at higher risk when it comes to developing allergies.

Ready for the good news? There is now good evidence that shows by introducing common food allergens into your baby’s diet as early as 4months and on a regular basis (where it doesn’t cause a reaction), can significantly lower their risk of developing a food allergy.

To ease your mind, it’s estimated that 99.8% of babies will not have a severe reaction. Reassuringly, according to the Allergy UK, no life-threatening reactions have been reported from introducing allergenic foods to a baby early.

If you’re feeling anxious, check out this information on childhood allergies and understanding anxiety.


What are high allergenic foods?

Common allergens include egg, peanut and other tree nuts, dairy, seafood and wheat (see across for all 14 of the top allergens). It’s the protein components of these foods that some of our immune systems wrongly mistake as toxins, launching an unwarranted attack.

How can you introduce allergenic foods safely?

Allergy UK has produced a comprehensive FREE resource that guides you step-by-step through weaning an allergic baby, from understanding food labels to practical resources including a food and symptom diary. It’s a must-read before you get started (check it out here).

Here’s a quick summary of some of the key points:

  • The Department of Health recommends introducing solid foods at around 6 months old for most babies (while still giving breastmilk too) – starting with some fruits and vegetables, then the common allergens, aiming to introduce all of the common allergens before 12 months.

  • For babies at higher risk of allergies, research suggests introducing cooked egg and peanut at little earlier – from 4 months – to help reduce their risk of an allergy. If you choose to go down this route (which in my opinion, from both first hand-experience and review of the evidence, is worthwhile!), it is best that you start with puréed foods.

  • Let your baby try each food one at a time on a day they’re well (i.e. no temperature, cough or cold, and not when they’ve just had a vaccination).

  • One at a time, leaving 3 days in between each new food so you can easily see if any causes a reaction. After they’ve had several times individually with no reaction, you can start mixing up these foods so they can have a bit more variety – diversity is key from a young age too!

  • Try introducing at breakfast or lunch – it can be helpful to introduce allergens earlier in the day, so there’s time before bedtime to check for any reactions.

Getting started on your weaning journey? This Weaning Planner and Weaning Recipes can help!


Gut health & allergies: what’s the link?

There’s a strong link between our GM (gut microbiota) and allergies. Our GM has a pretty major role in training our immune system from birth.

Ever heard of the ‘hygiene hypothesis’? It’s the idea that being too clean, especially when we’re young, means we’re exposed to fewer microbes.

In turn, that means your GM diversity (the number of different types of microbes you have) decreases, meaning the ‘coaching’ of your immune system is also reduced. This is one explanation for why rates of allergy and autoimmune conditions are on the rise in the Western world and why they’re reduced in those who grew up on farms (like me!).


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