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USDA guidelines on food allergies: What they mean for your baby

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases new Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, their most recent recommendations include information about introducing allergens. 

These recent guidelines offer recommendations that include 0 to 2 year olds for the first time ever, including a key recommendation that parents should “introduce infants to allergenic foods.” Let’s break down these important new food allergy guidelines.

USDA guidelines on early introduction: 5 key takeaways for parents

1. Introduce Infants to Potentially Allergenic Foods

The new Dietary Guidelines recommend that parents introduce infants to allergenic foods like peanuts, egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish, fish, and soy. They note that, for example, introducing peanuts “reduces the risk that an infant will develop a food allergy to peanuts.” Parents should introduce these allergenic foods in baby’s first year of life along with other complementary foods.

2. There is no evidence that suggests parents should delay peanut introduction

It is important to introduce these foods early, in your baby’s first year of life.

3. Parents should introduce peanut-containing foods at 4-6 months for high risk infants

Babies at high risk for food allergies are those with severe eczema and/or egg allergy. For these babies, introducing peanuts at 4-6 months can “reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy.” Parents should consult with their healthcare provider before introducing peanuts to determine the safest way to introduce them.

4. Nuts and chunks of peanut butter can pose a choking risk

Parents should find appropriate forms of allergenic foods to introduce to their baby as nuts and peanut butter can be a choking hazard. Learn more about how to safely introduce peanuts from the NIAID Guidelines here.

5. Diversify your baby’s meals after six months

In addition to allergenic foods, it is strongly recommended to introduce a variety of foods across all food groups to help with your baby’s growth and development.

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team

Content provided by Ready, Set, Food!. Ready, Set, Food! is a complete guided system that gently introduces your baby to the top 9 most common childhood food allergens, including peanut, egg, and milk. 

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