What are allergens?
The substances that can cause allergies are known as allergens. Technically speaking, an allergen is a non-parasitic antigen that can cause an atopic person to experience a Type-I hypersensitivity reaction.
Your immune system reacts to any foreign substance that enters your body in order to keep you safe. Your immune system may overreact when you are exposed to allergens, which can result in a range of symptoms from mild to severe. Why does the body respond differently to different substances? The immune system of every individual is endowed with particular sensitivities that could result in an allergic reaction.
Why do you need to introduce allergens?
The allergic reactions occur when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance known as an allergen which is why it is important to introduce food allergens to infants at a young age.
When should I introduce allergens?
When you start your baby on solids, you can give him or her allergy causing foods. The typical age range for this is between 6 and 12 months, but not before your baby is 4 months old. Before your baby turns 12 months old, introduce common allergy causing foods to lower the likelihood that they will have an allergic reaction to the particular food.
If at all possible, breastfeed your child even as you introduce solid foods because doing so may lower the likelihood that they will develop allergies.
You can give your baby a typical cow’s milk-based formula if you aren’t breastfeeding. Don’t try to prevent allergies by giving your baby a special hydrolyzed infant formula, soy formula, or goat milk formula.
Which allergens should I introduce?
Start with the food you want your baby to try first. Keep in mind that the food must be suitable for the child’s age (smooth, soft foods to start with, then moving to foods with different textures as your baby grows).
•Peanuts – Do not feed whole peanuts as they are a choking hazard.
•Eggs – The egg yolk and white can be combined. Separate introduction of these has no benefit. Offer tiny, tender pieces of scrambled egg to your baby. If a baby doesn’t like it the first time, try again; it may take them a few tries to get used to the texture of the egg.
•Milk – Your baby has already been exposed to cow’s milk if they are being fed a formula that contains it. Continuing cow’s milk formula in small doses daily during early infancy reduces the risk of developing cow’s milk allergy, as opposed to stopping it.
•Soy – Even though soy lecithin may be listed as an ingredient in products like baby cereal and formula, this does not constitute a soy exposure. Serve extra-soft tofu either by itself or in a mixture with other fruit or vegetable purees. Edamame is steamed, pureed, and eaten with a spoon. If you’d like, mix some soy yoghurt with a fruit puree and serve it.
•Wheat – You can introduce wheat by giving your baby cereals labelled “wheat flour”; however, unless your baby is already intolerant to dairy.
Your baby can eat cooked, soft pasta, but be aware that some sauces, especially tomato sauce, can occasionally cause skin irritation or redness. This is not an allergy, so there is no need to be concerned.
What warning signs should I look for?
An allergic reaction’s symptoms typically appear within a few minutes, but they can take up to two hours to manifest.
Some mild to moderate symptoms could be:
•Swelling of the lips, face, or eyelids tingling in or around the mouth hives or red welts (bumps) on the skin
•The redness around your baby’s mouth is typically not an allergic reaction. Contact with some foods can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. It would be best to talk to your doctor about this if you have any concerns.
Here are some suggestions from experts to remember to make an introduction that is secure.
•Before exposing your child to allergens, make sure they are completely ready for solid foods.
•When your baby is healthy, introduce new allergens to them.
•Don’t introduce foods that cause severe allergies in the evening.
•After feeding, keep an eye on your baby for about two hours.
•Ideally, one or two adults should be present.
If you need further guidance, feel free to connect with Kanupriya Khanna who has been working in this field since 2003. She is regarded as one of the best dietitians in Delhi because of her unwavering commitment to making a difference in people’s lives by instilling good eating habits and lifestyles.