Food allergies seem like a common occurrence, but they actually only affect 6 percent of children in the United States, according to BabyCenter. Many times, your child has a food intolerance that she will grow out of that is not a full-blown food allergy. Still, it’s important to monitor your baby closely to look for the signs of food allergies. Delaying certain foods until your baby is a certain age may also help prevent allergies, both now and later in life.
Breastfeed your baby. Breast milk offers protection from allergies, and it’s unlikely that your baby will have a reaction to it. It also enhances your baby’s defenses against food allergies.
Give your baby formula made from extensively hydrolyzed casein or from partially hydrolyzed whey formula if you don’t breastfeed. These types of formulas trigger food allergies in babies less often than soy or cow’s milk formulas, according to the American Academy of Allergy and Asthma Immunology.
Give your baby only breast milk or formula until he’s at least 4 to 6 months old. Hold off giving him any solid foods, including baby food and baby cereal until this point to allow his digestive and immune systems to develop.
Introduce new foods one at a time from the time he is 4 to 6 months old until your baby’s first birthday. Try cereal for a few days. Wait to see if your baby has a reaction. Try a fruit for another few days and see how you baby tolerates it. Adding one food at a time allows you to watch for potential allergic reactions.
Wait until your baby is older than 12 months to give her soy products, eggs, nuts, cow’s milk or seafood because these are the foods most likely to cause an allergic reaction. Research results are mixed about whether these foods definitely increase allergy risk, so use your best judgment. Definitely avoid them if you have a family history of allergies to these foods.