Food Allergens
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Introducing Top Food Allergens to Children

Food Allergens
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Introducing Top Food Allergens to Children

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Introducing foods that can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in our babies does not have to be scary! In this article, we will go through the top 8 food allergens in children and how to introduce them safely. 

Before introducing potential food allergens to our babies, we need to identify if our child is at risk of having food allergies. Two major risk factors are if your baby has severe eczema or existing food allergies. If your child has either of those, you need to work closely with their pediatrician when introducing new foods. 

When introducing these allergens, follow the following tips

  • Start with a small quantity of the food
  • Introduce the food early in the day so you can monitor for any reaction
  • Introduce only one food at a time to your child
  • Give your child regular exposure to that food once you know your child can tolerate
  • Start introducing these foods around 6 months of age 

Symptoms of an allergic reaction are

  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Irritability


Important Note: if you feel your baby has an allergic reaction, contact your pediatrician immediately.


The top 8 food allergens and ways to safely introduce them

1. Eggs

  • Offer egg white and egg yolks together
  • Offer very small pieces of scrambled eggs or mashed hard-boiled eggs. 

2. Fish

  • There are many different types of fish, so start by introducing the type of fish to our babies that we enjoy eating ourselves. 
  • Serve small pieces of cooked fish. 
  • Make sure there are no bones in the fish. 

3. Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab) 

  • Shellfish can be tricky to introduce to our babies due to the consistency, so consider offering this allergen last.
  • Good ways to introduce shellfish include soups/stews, steamed shrimp cut into small pieces or crabcakes. 

4. Cow’s milk

  • If our baby is being fed a baby formula that is cow-milk based, they are already being offered this food allergen. 
  • Serve yogurt or cottage cheese. 
  • Note: it is important for our babies not to drink cow’s milk until 12 months of age 

5. Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts)

  • Introducing one of the tree nuts does not count as an instruction to all
  • Grind nuts to a powder and add them to other foods
  • Dilute nut butters to a thin consistency with water, breast milk, or formula

6. Soy

  • A safe way to introduce soy to our babies includes giving them soy yogurt or extra soft tofu.

7. Wheat

  • Try soft-cooked pasta or infant cereal made from wheat.

8. Peanuts 

  • Note: Whole peanuts are a choking hazard. Do not serve them to our babies 
  • When offering peanuts to our babies, grind them into a powder or offer diluted peanut butter (thinned out with breast milk, water, or baby formula)


Introducing foods that can sometimes cause an allergic reaction safely, as described above, can take out much of the worry.

About the Author

My motto – Personalized nutrition. I believe that each person is so unique, and so are their nutrition needs. My goal is to help each individual find a nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle plan that is beneficial for their health and helps them feel energized! My “why” – Growing up I was always surrounded by runners, and in high school and college I was a competitive runner myself. Since that time, I have always been very interested in the role that food plays in our body. I was initially majoring in physical therapy, and my very last semester I took a nutrition class. That is when I had my “AHA!” moment, and knew I wanted to be a dietitian. My hope as a dietitian is to help others understand the amazing benefits that food has to offer us. My credentials – I have a bachelor’s in exercise science from the University of Toledo and a bachelor’s in dietetics from the University of Dayton. I got my master in health communication studies from Fontbonne University in St. Louis. I am a registered and licensed dietitian and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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