Allergen advice for weaning

Reviewed on 06.12.2022 by Helen Farnsworth, Nutritionist

Like it or not, allergies are a fact of life. In the UK, 40% of children have been diagnosed with an allergy. The four most common allergies in children are food allergy, eczema, asthma, and hay fever. (Allergy UK)

Some allergies (including food allergies) have a genetic link. This means that the tendency to have an allergy can be passed down from parent to child. If anyone in your immediate family has an allergic condition such as asthma, eczema, hayfever or food allergies, your baby is more likely to have an allergy, too.

Of course, allergies aren't the end of the world, and your baby may very well not develop any at all - but if there is a history of allergy in the family, it makes sense to take a bit of extra care during weaning. Weaning with allergy concerns

Allergenic foods such as milk, eggs, wheat, gluten, soya, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, seeds can be introduced once you have started weaning your baby; there is no evidence to support delaying introduction of these foods beyond 6 months.

However, if your baby already has a diagnosed food allergy or eczema, or if you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma or hay fever, you may need to be particularly careful when introducing foods, so talk to your GP or health visitor first.

A good tip (especially once you start to introduce some of the high allergy risk foods) is to introduce each allergen on its own in small amounts, adding a new food every other day so that you can watch carefully for any signs of an allergy. Make sure your child is well at the time of allergen introduction, i.e. not when they have a temperature, just had a vaccination, or have a cough or a cold.

This way, if you see any symptoms, you can be fairly sure which food is the culprit. Once you're sure a food is safe, keep offering it as part of your baby’s usual diet.

By the age of 12 months at the latest, your baby should have been introduced to all the major allergenic foods (where appropriate).