Ask an expert: Food Allergies 411

News reports about the huge rise in food allergies have us concerned and confused, especially with some research suggesting exposing babies to peanut butter as early as 4 months may lessen allergies. Can you help?

A: I don’t recommend ANY food prior to 6 months old. Most research suggests that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months reduces risk for food allergies.

Additionally, babies should be developmentally ready before starting food—able to sit up unassisted, for instance—and typically this is not before 6 months.

With that said, breastfeeding will help sensitize infants to foods (through breast milk). Thus, moms should NOT avoid any potentially allergic foods unless their child exhibits a true reaction to a particular food.

When babies start food, parents should NOT WAIT on potentially allergic (or foods that are higher in allergy risk such as eggs, wheat, peanut butter, strawberries, citrus, fish). I suggest introducing foods every two to three days, and if there is no reaction, go forward.

Lara Field

MS, RD, CSP, LDN

Registered dietitian

Owner/founder of FEED

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