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Food allergies and children

A food allergy is when the immune system has an adverse reaction to specific proteins found in food.

It is important not to unnecessarily exclude a food or a food group from your baby's diet. Discuss this with your doctor, public health nurse or registered dietitian.

Lowering the risk

Breastfeeding gives your baby the best start in life. Breastfeeding should be continued while weaning to solid food is being established.

Mothers should not remove foods from their diets to prevent food allergies. Eating a healthy, varied, balanced diet is essential for a breastfeeding mother.

Family history of food allergy is not a major risk factor for a child developing food allergy.

Stages of weaning


There is no milk formula that prevents infants from developing a food allergy.

If you think your baby might be allergic to cow's milk formula, avoid changing their infant formula. Speak to your public health nurse or GP first.

There are infant formulas available for babies with an allergy to cow's milk. Use these under medical supervision.

Starting solid foods

An infant's immune system begins to develop tolerance to foods once they begin to eat them regularly. Delaying the introduction of foods such as dairy, egg, and peanut is a major risk factor for the development of food allergy.

Do not delay giving your child solid food once they are showing signs that they are developmentally ready (usually around 6 months of age, but not before 4 months). If your child has eczema, it is even more important not to delay.

An introduction should include all major food allergens starting with dairy, hard-boiled egg and peanut. These should be introduced as soon as weaning begins. Other allergens including fish, sesame, tree nuts (almond, brazil, cashew, hazelnut, walnut), and wheat should follow without delay.

Starting your baby on solid foods (weaning)


There is no benefit in delaying giving your baby peanuts. Give peanut in soft forms – pure nut butter that is sugar and salt-free – to healthy babies, and those with mild eczema, at 6 months. Nut butter can be thinly spread on bread.

Excluding foods

You should not avoid certain foods in your baby's diet in an attempt to prevent allergy.

Limiting your child's diet can place them at risk of nutrient deficiencies. Ask your GP for public health nurse for advice.

Gluten intolerance

There is no need to avoid gluten when you are starting solid foods with your baby.

Introduce small amounts of solid food containing gluten between 4 and 12 months. These include bread, pasta, crackers and breakfast cereals.

Page last reviewed: 14 October 2022
Next review due: 14 October 2025