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Ask The Allergy Chef: How Do I Introduce What I'm Allergic to To My Baby Starting Solids?

Ask The Allergy Chef: How Do I Safely Introduce Foods I’m Allergic to To My Baby?

    Hi, I have quite a few food allergies, and several of them are contact allergies. I’m also a nursing mother. We’re getting ready to introduce solids, and I’d like to know, how do I safely introduce what I’m allergic to to my baby?

    This is something that needs to be done carefully, as I’m sure you know. I’ll break down the steps you can take to make this as safe for you as possible.

    1. Pump enough milk to cover your child’s needs for 4 – 8 hours, depending on your level of comfort. The general rule of thumb is that after 4 hours, it should be safe for your baby’s saliva to make contact with your skin.

    2. Arrange to have your husband, a friend, or family member help with the introduction. Ideally, it will be done at the friend’s home, especially if your allergens aren’t allowed into the home. If it’s your husband helping, you can do this outside, or go to a friend’s house.

    3. Have the supplies ready: pumped milk, food to introduce, disposable plates etc, change of clothes, cleaning supplies.

    4. Do the introduction. If you’re not comfortable being in the room with the allergens, wait in your car and leave detailed clean up instructions. If you can be inside, be there and help direct the event and direct clean up.

    5. Clean up. Your child should be wiped down. A bath should be given if possible, as this may make you feel more at ease. Change your child’s clothes, dispose of extra food, the plates, etc.

    6. Do not let your child kiss you. If you’re doing food introductions, your child is at the age where they may enjoy kissing you etc. Their mouth should not make contact with your skin for at least 4 hours.

    7. Should your child be hungry, use the pumped milk to feed them, as to not have their saliva on your skin.

    I know there are a lot of steps here, and it can feel overwhelming. However, know that it will get easier. The initial introductions won’t be easy, and you’ll probably be stressed out. Try to stay calm because your child will pick up on this.

    Moving Forward

    I’m going to assume that you’re introducing these foods to make sure your child is not allergic. Let’s say they pass for these foods. You have two options moving forward.

    Have your husband mix powdered allergens into a serving of pumped milk (outside) and feed it to your child. The clean up and no saliva contact would be the same. Lil Mixins is an example of a powdered allergen product. I personally can’t vouch for any of the companies making these (never used them), so make sure you research before selecting a company.

    If you go with this option, create a schedule. Maybe you do this once a week on a day where you can take off to hang out with friends whilst your husband handles the feeding and clean up.

    The second option is to continue to schedule feedings at someone else’s home. This would also need to be done on a schedule.

    How you proceed long term really comes down to your level of tolerance. For example, would you be OK purchasing snacks that contain the allergens and having your child eat them outside, then clean up very well? Would you be OK with them eating allergens at the table and then your husband does the clean up?

    How I Managed Our Home

    In our home, certain allergens were NEVER in the home. It was just too high risk. Some allergens that were allowed in came with a strict clean up policy. The kids also knew that if they didn’t clean up well, I’d never buy the food again. I stuck to my guns on that one, and they lost several cereals they enjoyed. The risk was too high to have crumbs of those particular cereals around the house.

    The kids were always allowed to eat banned ingredients outside in their father’s car (never mine), then wash up downstairs in the bathroom I didn’t use. They could also eat banned ingredients at school, restaurants, with friends, etc. There was always the cleanup policy to fall back on once they got home.

    I share that to say: have a longterm plan in place. You’ll also want to be mindful of your child’s mental health. We don’t want them to feel responsible for your medical condition. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a hard line to walk and you will mess up, and that’s OK. Just keep moving forward as best as you can.

    Wishing you all the best on these introductions,
    ~The Allergy Chef

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