Infant Food Allergy Prevention through Early Introduction
There are exciting new areas of medical research that are helping to guide recommendations for what and when to feed babies to prevent food allergies.
The evidence-based research shows that feeding peanut butter powder to infants three times a week will help prevent peanut allergy. One important caveat is that if you have a family history of a food allergy in either parent or an older sibling, you should consult with an allergist first.
Where To Start
Use organic peanut butter powder to make a paste that is easy for babies to accept and move through their mouths. The ideal period to begin is between 4 and 6 months of age, after an infant shows readiness cues to eat solids: ability to sit in a highchair, watching you when you eat with mouth open.
Be Prepared, Just in Case
When offering the peanut butter powder as a paste, do it in the daytime and have Benadryl with proper dosing based on your baby’s age, nearby. It’s rare for first time foods to cause anaphylaxis, but it’s important to be prepared. A rash or hives would appear on the face or body on the first or, more likely, the second exposure.
Take note and if baby develops a rash but appears well, simply stop all further tastings of the food and notify your pediatrician to discuss the need for a referral to an allergist. Stick with non-allergic foods until you see the allergist. Any swelling that involves the lips, tongue or any repetitive coughing with distress warrants a 911 call. Once again, this is very unusual, but it’s important to know the signs and what to do.
Keep in Mind…
The evidence is not there yet for other allergenic foods such as shrimp, eggs, or other nut butter powders, but the general idea is to get started early with all foods so that baby’s immune system can accept new proteins.
While You’re At It…
Early food introduction for allergy prevention aligns well with establishing healthy eating habits. Vegetables don’t cause anaphylaxis. They are safe to give at any time and there is a window of feeding opportunity up until about 7 months when most babies will take them without a fuss. This is the Golden Window of vegetable introduction so be sure to keep it in mind as your baby shows signs of readiness to explore the world of solid foods.
Remember that science provides an important guide for the most up-to-date information, but focusing on nutrition, enjoyment and mealtime is up to you!
P.S. There's a lot to juggle as baby approaches 3 months, especially if you're returning to work after maternity leave. Read our tips on getting back into the swing of things.