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Introducing specific foods at home

This resource is to support parents and guardians to introduce a specific food for your child at home.

This should only be used for foods which have been suggested by your child’s allergy doctor and should not be used for a food that your child is known to have an allergy to.

Before introducing new food

Make sure your child is well. Do not begin the introduction if your child has had a flare up of eczema, asthma, hay fever, or has needed to take antihistamines in the last 5 days as they will not be well enough to deal with the introduction.

Only try one new food on the day so you can be sure a reaction was because of the one food item. Pick a day when you will be able to watch your child for at least 4 hours to make sure they are doing well.

Have a supply of antihistamine if appropriate.

Do not try to introduce a food if your child has ever had a reaction after eating that food. Please seek medical advice if you are not sure.

Introducing new food

Avoid your child’s lips and skin coming into contact with the food. A layer of moisturiser or Vaseline can be used to form a barrier. Food touching the skin can cause irritation if skin is already sensitive and may cause areas of flat, red rashes. This should not be confused with an allergic reaction, especially if your child is well and is enjoying eating the food.

  1. Give your child a rice grain sized amount of the food. Wait 15 minutes, and if there is no reaction, continue to step 2.
  2. Give your child a pea sized amount of the food. Wait 15 minutes, and if there is no reaction, continue to step 3.
  3. Give your child a half a teaspoon amount of the food. Wait 15 minutes, and if there is no reaction, continue to step 4.
  4. Give your child a teaspoon amount of the food. Wait 15 minutes, and if there is no reaction, continue to step 5.
  5. Continue to double the amount every 15 minutes. If there is no reaction to the food, keep going until your child has eaten a portion of the food you would expect them to manage in a normal meal.

If no reaction occurs over the next 2 hours, you can introduce this food into to your child’s diet.

If your child is under 1 year old, this weaning guidance from the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) may be useful to you.

If your child has a reaction

If a reaction occurs, stop the introduction and treat as below

Mild or moderate reaction:
  • swollen lips face or eyes
  • itchy or tingly mouth
  • hives or itchy skin rash
  • tummy pain
  • being sick
  • sudden change in behaviour

Stay with your child and call for help if necessary. Give antihistamine

Signs for anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • persistent cough
  • hoarse voice
  • difficulty swallowing
  • swollen tongue
  • difficulty breathing
  • noisy breathing
  • wheezing
  • persistent cough
  • pale or floppy
  • suddenly sleepy
  • collapsed
  • unconscious

If your child has any of these signs above, then:

  • Lie your child flat with their legs raised (if they are struggling to breathe, let your child sit up)
  • Immediately call 999 for an ambulance and say your child has gone into anaphylaxis (“ana-fil-ax-is”)
  • Give your child an adrenaline autoinjector (if available)
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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ALG23

Resource Type: Article


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