Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan is board certified in Allergy/Immunology and Internal Medicine, and treats patients of all ages at her Southern California private practice. She received her M.D. with honors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She then completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Northwestern and fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). Dr. Marks-Cogan currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 year old son, and 9 month old daughter where she enjoys hiking, building LEGO castles with her kids, and cooking with her family. She is the chief allergist for Ready, Set, Food!
As a board-certified allergist, I’ve seen firsthand how families struggle with food allergies. Thankfully, findings from recent landmark studies have shown that you can reduce your baby’s risk of developing food allergies by feeding them allergenic foods early and consistently, starting between 4 and 11 months of age. But early, sustained allergen introduction can be difficult. Many 4-11 month olds are picky eaters, making it challenging for parents to follow the guidelines. In addition, most infants are not developmentally ready for solid foods as early as 4 months.
Here’s what parents need to know about food allergy prevention:
To help make early allergen introduction easier for busy parents, I’ve compiled these 5 infant food allergy prevention tips.
1) All Babies Can Benefit From Allergen Introduction
1 out of 13 children suffer from a food allergy today, and over half of these children don’t have any history of food allergies in their families. Worst of all, these food allergies can be life-threatening. Since all babies are at risk for developing a food allergy, regardless of family history, the new guidelines on early, sustained allergen introduction apply to all babies. However, parents of infants with severe eczema need to consult with their pediatrician to determine if an allergy screening is required first.
2) Start Between 4 and 11 Months
Scientists believe that babies’ immune systems develop either a positive or negative response to food proteins between 4-11 months of age. So, 4-11 months of age represents a critical immune window for allergy prevention. If your baby eats allergenic foods consistently during this window, they’ll be less likely to develop a food allergy. In fact, studies suggest that delaying allergen introduction may put your child at a greater risk for developing a food allergy.
3) Choose The Right Time For Your Baby
Parents should introduce allergenic foods when their baby is healthy and an adult can monitor for any signs of a reaction for at least 2 hours.
4) Consistently Feed Your Baby Allergenic Foods
A baby’s immune system needs sustained oral exposure to foods in order to develop a positive response to them. So, if you feed your baby allergenic foods only once or twice, that won’t be enough to reduce their risk of developing a food allergy. Instead, make sure to offer your baby allergenic foods multiple times a week, for several months. After all, in the landmark studies, infants consumed allergenic foods 2-7 times a week for 3-6+ months or more.
5) Don’t Give Up!
As a mom, I know how challenging allergen introduction can be. When my son David was 5 months old, I prepared egg, peanut, and yogurt snacks for him to eat several times per week (peanut, egg, and milk comprise 80% of all childhood food allergies). But this process was time consuming and frustrating -- the majority of these snacks ended up either on my kitchen floor or on his face! After this difficult experience, I was inspired to find a solution to make early and sustained allergen introduction easier for all families.
I worked with a team of physicians, leading allergy experts, and parents to create Ready, Set, Food!, a groundbreaking system that can help reduce your baby’s risk of developing a food allergy by up to 80%. Our daily guided system is:
- Evidence-Based: Follows the precise dosing used in landmark food allergy prevention studies. So, you can rest assured that your baby is consuming the right amounts of allergens.
- Simple: Dissolves into breastmilk, formula, or puree, making allergen introduction easy even if your baby is not developmentally ready for solid food.
- All-Natural: Contains only organic, non-GMO peanut, egg, and milk, with no added sugar or artificial additives.
- Gentle: Slowly increases the allergen amount over time, and introduces one new food at a time, for maximum safety based on study recommendations and pediatric guidelines
- Maximizes Efficacy: Can help reduce the risk of developing peanut, egg, and milk allergies by up to 80%.
- Recommended by Experts: 200+ pediatricians and allergists recommend Ready, Set, Food!
We’ve partnered with Lark Adventurewear to make allergen introduction even easier! Use the code LARK20 to receive $20 off any Ready, Set, Food! subscription.To learn more about Ready, Set, Food!, and to take advantage of this exclusive offer for Lark Adventurewear families, visit the Ready, Set, Food! website here.