If your baby is 7 months old or older, can you still safely introduce them to common allergens and promote healthier outcomes? Here’s what the science has to say – plus, how to start early allergen introduction with older babies and toddlers.
Key medical guidelines recommend introducing common allergens to babies early and often, to give them the best chance at food freedom. These guidelines recommend starting allergen introduction between 4-6 months to give your baby’s body the best chance at recognizing these foods as safe.
Common allergens include:
These foods are responsible for around 90% of food allergies in children.
But what if your baby is 7 months old or older? Can you still safely introduce them to common allergens and promote healthier outcomes? Here’s what the science has to say – plus, how to start early allergen introduction with older babies and toddlers.
Can I start allergen introduction between 7-11 months?
Yes. It’s highly recommended to start allergen introduction between 4 and 6 months of age. But you can start feeding your 7-11 month old baby allergens if you haven’t yet – and it’s still beneficial to do so.
If your baby is older than 6 months of age, it's not too late to introduce allergens (assuming they don't already have an allergy to a food you want to introduce).
As landmark studies and guidelines have shown, starting to feed allergens as soon as you can is a much better approach than delaying allergen feeding for 1-3 years.
The best time to introduce baby to allergens is before their first birthday – the sooner, the better.
As these studies have shown, feeding allergens in the first year gives children’s bodies a better chance to build up a tolerance to these foods, but delaying the introduction of these foods increases a child's risk for developing a food allergy in the future.
Inspired by these studies, the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend feeding baby “potentially allergenic foods” (including peanuts, egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat and soy) “in the first year” of life.
Other key guidelines (such as those from the National Institutes of Health and American Academy of Pediatrics) provide similar recommendations – start feeding allergens before age 1.
- 2022 findings from re-examining the LEAP and EAT studies affirmed that introducing peanut starting before 12 months of age leads to healthier outcomes than introducing it at 12 months of age.
- Results from the EarlyNuts Study showed that infants who started eating peanut before 12 months of age had healthier outcomes than infants who were not introduced to peanut in their first year
Plus, the safest time to introduce allergens is before a baby's first birthday, because babies younger than 1 year old are the least likely to develop a severe allergic reaction.
Introducing allergens to your 7-11 month old, as soon as you can, is a much better approach than delaying allergen feeding.
How to start allergen introduction with my 7-11 month old?
Be sure to feed allergens to your little one in baby-safe forms. This means avoiding whole nuts and chunky nut butters, making sure eggs are well-cooked, and feeding dairy foods instead of giving cow’s milk as a drink.
Also, remember that sustained introduction is just as important to promoting food freedom as starting early. So, be sure to feed your little one allergen foods regularly – multiple times per week for at least several months.
There are lots of common allergens to feed – and consistently keep feeding – your little one, but Ready. Set. Food! makes early allergen feeding much easier. Our pre-measured daily packets contain the allergens baby needs, and easily mix into baby’s food.
If you haven’t started feeding your 7-11 month old baby any common allergens yet, we recommend starting with milk, egg, and peanut, because these foods account for the most food allergies in young children. Start with Ready. Set. Food! Stage 1 Mix-Ins to gradually introduce peanut, egg, and milk, one at a time in baby’s favorite foods.
Once you’ve finished feeding baby Stage 1, you can move to our Stage 3 Mix-Ins or start feeding our Organic Baby Oatmeal. Both of these options contain 9 top allergens – they introduce tree nuts, sesame, wheat, and soy, along with continuing to feed peanut, egg, and milk.
And if your little one is 8+ months old, can pick up and self-feed finger foods, and can crawl without their tummy touching the ground, you can also keep feeding allergens with Ready. Set. Food! Organic Puffs, a first-of-their-kind yummy snack with 9 top allergens inside!
Can I start allergen introduction with my toddler (12 months or older)?
If your toddler has had their first birthday, hasn’t eaten common allergen foods yet, and doesn’t have a food allergy, you can still start early allergen introduction.
But toddlers ages 12+ months are more likely to have an allergic reaction than babies are, and if a reaction does occur, it’s more likely to turn severe. And key guidelines recommend allergen introduction within baby’s first year.
With this in mind, you should talk to your pediatrician first before introducing any common allergen foods if your toddler (12+ months) hasn’t eaten these foods yet. This applies whether you’d like to start feeding Ready. Set. Food!, or whether you plan to give your toddler common allergens in other toddler-safe ways.
How to start allergen introduction with my 12+ month old?
Feed allergen foods in toddler-safe ways. This means staying away from whole nuts and chunky nut butters, and making sure eggs are well-cooked. Since your toddler has had their first birthday, it’s fine to give them cow’s milk as a drink, but you can also give them dairy foods.
If you’d like to make allergen feeding easier with Ready. Set. Food!, again, you should talk to your pediatrician before you start.
Consult with your pediatrician if you’d like to start giving your toddler Ready. Set. Food! and haven’t started feeding them common allergen foods.
If your pediatrician has given the ok to start feeding Ready. Set. Food! to your toddler, we recommend starting with Stage 1 Mix-Ins first for one-at-a-time introduction of the top 3 allergens (peanut, egg, cow’s milk) since your child hasn’t been introduced to those allergens yet. Then, move to Ready. Set. Food! Stage 3 Mix-Ins or Organic Baby Oatmeal, to add 6 more top allergens to your toddler’s diet, once you’re finished with Stage 1.
Once your toddler is regularly eating the 9 top allergens, you can mix and match Ready. Set. Food! Stage 3 Mix-Ins, Organic Baby Oatmeal, and Organic Puffs to maintain regular exposure to these important foods. You can also use Ready. Set. Food! Organic Oat and Fruit Bars to keep feeding your toddler 8 top allergens (peanut, egg, milk, almond, cashew, walnut, sesame, and soy).
Remember, sustained allergen introduction is crucial. Be sure to feed your little one allergen foods regularly – multiple times per week for at least several months.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.
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