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The General Guide-lines
These comments apply to children who are prone to true food allergies because a brother or sister or parent has common allergy problems (e.g. asthma, eczema, hay fever), or there is a strong family history of food reactions. Breast feeding up to 8 months of age gives the baby some protection against food allergy.
Whenever the decision is made to introduce solids, these are general principles to follow:
  • Try not to introduce any solids until 4 months. Then, hold off giving foods that commonly cause allergies,
    (i.e. cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, corn, chocolate, peanuts, fish, citrus, etc).
  • Introduce foods one at a time as a sort of “test”, watching out for an allergic reaction. Give each food for at least a week, before introducing others.
  • Introduce a food in this way: Give a teaspoon on the first day, two teaspoons on the second day, and go on adding another teaspoon each day until a complete serving is given. (If you suspect that your child may be sensitised to the food, go more slowly.) If your baby rejects any food, do not persist in offering it, or disguise its taste.
  • While introducing a food, watch carefully for allergic symptoms which can include colic, unsettled behaviour, altered bowel habit, vomiting or regurgitation of feeds, worsening of eczema, excessive mucus etc.
    (Allow for the effects of other things such as virus infections or reactions to airborne allergens such as dust mite.)
  • If no symptoms show up during the introduction of the food, then it can be included in the diet.
  • If symptoms appear, stop the food, wait a week, begin a new food. If in doubt, try the food again.
A suggested way of introducing foods
There are no hard and fast rules. These are just suggestions and you can vary the timing and food types to fit your own circumstances.
Cereal - At 6 months. Single grain variety, not mixed cereal. Begin with oatmeal, barley or rice. Leave wheat until 9 months.
Fruits - At 5-6 months. Fruits are less allergic when cooked (e.g. stewed, or processed in cans). First try pears and apples, then mashed bananas (ripe). Leave stone fruit until 12 months. Leave citrus and berries until 18 months.
Milks - Breast-feed until the baby is at least 8 months old, if possible. Introduce water or dilute fruit juices in a cup at about 6- 9 months. If extra milk is needed after 5 or 6 months of breast-feeding, cow’s milk infant formula, soy formula or a specialised formula can be tried. (There is no special advantage in soy unless cow’s milk allergy is already suspected.) If giving extra fluid because of failing breast milk supply and hot weather, give either plain boiled water (under 6 months) or diluted formula. Remember that babies may be able to tolerate a certain amount of formula but too much on one day or over a few days may bring out a reaction.
Vegetables - At 4-6 months. First try carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, and white potatoes (in that order). Leave beans, spinach and peas until 8 months. Leave tomatoes and corn until 18 months.
Eggs - Leave until 12 months. Start by giving a quarter teaspoon of yolk only of a hard-boiled egg, three times a week at most. Then increase by half a teaspoon at a time, until baby can eat the whole yolk without symptoms. Once he is used to the yolk, give very small amounts of egg white, only gradually increasing it.
Meat - At 6-9 months. Try lamb, veal, then beef and chicken.
Fish - Leave until 12 months. Start with canned tuna or salmon, or fresh non-oily, white-fleshed fish.
Chocolate and Nuts - Leave until 12 months, especially peanuts (which is a legume, not a tree nut).
“Allergic to breast milk”
If your baby appears to react to breast milk, it could come from reaction to foods the mother is eating and which are passed on in her breast milk. To test out this idea, she should strictly avoid common allergy foods for 10 days and then test each food one at a time by eating plenty of that food for 5 days. The baby’s reaction to the transmitted food will usually appear within 48 hours of the mother eating that food. If in doubt, try it again after one week’s further avoidance. Be especially suspicious of foods that mother has been or is allergic to.
Freeing-up the diet
Most children grow out of their food allergies so that by the age of four, most food allergies have gone. It is important to re-test every 3 to 6 months to be sure there is still need to exclude the food from your child’s diet. Occasionally, the allergy remains but symptoms caused by the food change (e.g. citrus causing eczema as a baby and mouth ulcers as a young child).
Information contained in this article was obtained from Exchange Journal
published by the National Eczema Society
This Information Sheet is one of a series provided as a service by the Eczema Association
of Australasia Inc to give up-to date, practical help on certain types
of eczema or a particular aspect of its treatment.
These sheets are part of our membership package.
It is not the policy of the Eczema Association of Australasia Inc to recommend
or endorse any product or treatment. It is part of the role of the Association to
provide information on a wide range of products and treatments to keep those
involved with eczema as fully informed as possible as to all options available.
Printed with the permission of the Eczema Association of Australasia Inc
For more information about this article please contact:
P: 1300 300 182 or 07 3206 3633
F: 07 3206 3666
E: [email protected]
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