As recent as 2000, it was commonly recommended that certain foods should be introduced “late” for infants at high risk for allergy (i.e. wait until one year of age to introduce cow’s milk protein, two years for eggs and three years for peanuts). Since then, evidence has accumulated that suggests this approach has not decreased the development of allergies but may have actually promoted it. In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that the evidence did not support delaying solid introduction for allergy protection.
As always, current evidence suggests that more research is needed. Recommendations from the Canadian Pediatric Society and Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology are summarized below:
-continue to eat milk, egg, peanut or other allergens during pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding
-breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months (total duration may be more important that exclusivity)
-if you have to use formula, choose a hydrolyzed cow’s milk based one. There is no evidence that choosing a soy based one will prevent allergies
-do not delay the introduction of any specific solid food beyond six months of age, even in infants who have a sibling or a parent with an allergy. Once you introduce a food, present it regularly.
Take a read of the current position statement if you’d like.
Otherwise, Caring for Kids has a great Food Allergies and Intolerance Handout.