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

If there is a family history of allergies, your baby may be at risk. Breastfeeding your baby for the first 6 months will help lower the risk. There are no formulas that prevent babies from developing allergies.


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

Do not delay giving your child eggs, dairy, fish or nuts. You should give your baby these foods one at a time. Start your child on these foods after they have started solid food and they are over 17 weeks old.


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 or allergy

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: 15 March 2018
Next review due: 15 March 2021