Preventing a Food Allergy

There Are Simple Steps You Can Take to Prevent a Food Allergy in Your Baby>

Recent research shows you can prevent up to 4 out of 5 peanut allergies before they start by using a simple process called early allergen introduction

“You have the power to stop a peanut allergy before it starts by simply feeding peanut-containing foods to your baby early. How natural is that?”

Stephanie Leeds, MD, MHS
Assistant Professor, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Yale University

Early Introduction in 4 Easy Steps

Follow these simple steps to help prevent a peanut allergy in your baby

The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a governmental organization that is part of the National Institutes of Health, developed the Addendum Guidelines for Prevention of Peanut Allergy in 2017 that recommend the introduction of peanut-containing foods as early as 4 to 6 months of age.

The NIAID guidelines are based on a study of more than 600 babies. These babies had severe eczema, an egg allergy, or both, which made them more likely to have a peanut allergy in the future. The study was called the Learn Early About Peanut Allergy, or LEAP, study.

Half of the babies in this study were given infant-safe peanut-containing foods starting between 4 and 11 months of age and fed this regularly until 5 years of age.

Researchers found that feeding babies peanut-containing foods reduced the chance of developing a peanut allergy by more than 80%.

If your baby has been diagnosed with an egg allergy or severe eczema that needs steroid cream for treatment, NIAID recommends talking with your baby’s health care provider before giving peanut-containing foods.

Severe eczema and egg allergy can make your baby more likely to have a peanut allergy reaction, and a health care provider can help you introduce peanut-containing foods safely.

Published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend starting common allergen foods when you start feeding your baby other complementary foods, often around 6 months of age. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans also support the NIAID guidelines for early introduction of peanut foods.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus on your baby’s whole diet and not just peanut-containing foods.

As your baby starts eating solid foods around 6 months of age, the guidelines suggest regularly adding new foods to boost nutrition and expose your baby to new flavors and textures.

Once your baby starts eating solid foods and has been introduced to peanut-containing foods try introducing other common food allergen foods that your family enjoys eating. Introduce these foods one at a time and watch for any reaction.

In the U.S., common food allergen foods include peanut, egg, cow’s milk products, tree nuts, soy, sesame, fish, shellfish, and wheat.  Infant-safe forms of these foods are part of a healthy and diverse diet.

Examples of infant-safe foods containing common food allergens include:

  • Smashed tofu or soy yogurt
  • Whole, unsweetened cow’s milk yogurt
  • Thinned cashew or almond nut butter
  • Well-cooked egg
  • Tahini (sesame paste) mixed into a puree
  • Wheat infant cereal or softly cooked wheat pasta