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Weaning & Introducing Allergens






Weaning can be such an overwhelming time - especially as it tends to come right when your little one is finally settling into a somewhat predictable rhythm, and advice has changed so much over the years - that often well-meaning people around us are dishing out opinions that are no longer relevant. And the last thing anyone wants is for our babies to become unwell or unsafe. ​ Everything we do here at Mamamade is with the goal of helping parents feel supported and for children to thrive - so in this blog I’ll share my top tips for introducing allergens confidently - so that weaning can be a reassuring and enjoyable time for everyone involved.



WHAT ARE ALLERGENS ANYWAY?

There are 14 main allergens that are the most likely foods to trigger an allergic reaction - to give parents total peace of mind, all Mamamade meals are completely free from the below. ​ You’ll most likely have seen these bolded on ingredients lists on packaged food items:


  • Cow’s milk

  • Egg

  • Cereals containing gluten, including wheat, rye, barley & oats.

  • Tree nuts

  • Peanut

  • Sesame

  • Soya

  • Shellfish

  • Fish

  • Mustard

  • Celery

  • Sulphur dioxide

  • Lupin

  • Molluscs


Other foods, such as nightshades or kiwi, may cause an allergic reaction but it’s still quite rare and you won’t see them bolded on any foods. ​ It’s normal to be worried about allergies - but you can be reassured that they’re still quite rare (only about 5% of young children between 0-2 have an allergy) - and severe allergy (i.e. anaphylaxis) is even rarer in under 1’s. So even if your child does have an allergy, it will likely be more mild than not. ​ It might be helpful to know that the most common allergies in babies are to cow’s milk, egg, peanut, soya, wheat and fish.




HOW AND WHEN TO INTRODUCE ALLERGENS

These guidelines are advised for majority of babies, but it’s important to note that some of these might not be relevant for babies considered to be at a higher risk of allergies (i.e., parent history of allergies; already-diagnosed allergy such as CMPA) - in most cases, the earlier the better when there is a risk factor, but please consult with your trusted healthcare professional beforehand. For most babies, solids should be introduced around 6 months, and allergens can be introduced once your baby has gotten the hang of eating with ‘first tastes’ foods like fruit and veg.

There are two types of allergic reactions to food: ‘Immediate’ (IgE) and ‘Delayed’ (non-IgE).


  • ​Each allergen should be introduced individually, one at a time - and a little goes a long way. Think a quarter of an egg, half a teaspoon - tiny tastes! Once they’ve had and tolerated a bit, you can incorporate more into their diet and continue offering throughout the weaning journey.

  • Space out new foods at least every 3 days

  • Ensure your little one is well and not teething - this is generally true of introducing any new foods! And if your little one is prone to eczema, make sure their skin is in good condition so that any reactions can be clearly visible.

  • Because part of introducing allergens is monitoring for reactions, it’s usually a good idea to introduce them early in the day - so breakfast or mid-morning, to ensure you’ve got plenty of time to observe your little one.




HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY BABY'S HAVING A REACTION?

There are two types of allergic reactions to food: ‘Immediate’ (IgE) and ‘Delayed’ (non-IgE).


Immediate reactions will usually occur within 30 minutes and include:

  • diarrhoea or vomiting

  • asthma, wheezing or other difficulty breathing

  • eczema flare, hives, itching or other rash

  • skin appearing pale or swelling

Non-Immediate reactions will appear within 2-72 hours and include:

  • tummy pain, bloating, wind

  • diarrhoea

  • eczema flare

  • reflux

  • vomiting

  • wheezing




WHICH ALLERGEN DO I INTRODUCE FIRST?

By the time your baby is starting solids, they’ve likely already been exposed to milk either via formula or breast milk - so you’ll likely know by the time they start solids whether or not they have that allergy! ​ As for the others, the recommendation is now to offer egg first, then peanut - as exposure to these foods can actually prevent allergies from developing. ​ For egg, offer the white and yolk together - either by offering a bit of scrambled egg, or pureeing a bit of hardboiled egg together with some veg. ​ As for peanuts, children under 5 should never have whole nuts, nor should they be offered peanut butter directly from the spoon as this, too, is a choking hazard. I like to add unsalted, smooth peanut butter to yogurt or porridge. You can also use ground peanuts or peanut flour. ​ Other foods can then be introduced if they are part of your family’s diet, ensuring the texture is appropriate for your little one’s stage of development. I hope this blog has helped give you the confidence you need to get started with allergens. We have loads more resources over on our blog and podcast - and come hang out with us on Instagram, where we’re always around to answer questions and share with our community?

At Mamamade, all of our baby and toddler meals are made in a dedicated facility that is completely free from the big-8 allergens; milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soya. If you would like to try our healthy, organic and plant-based meals, just use code 25COVEBABY at the Mamamade checkout to get 25% off your first three subscription boxes!


Love Sophie x





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