Allergen Exposure in Practice, AKA: How Long Do I Have to Do This?
One of the hardest misconceptions to root out is that you can be one-and-done when it comes to introducing potential allergens like peanuts. Parents will give their child a tiny taste of peanut butter, and after no reaction, assume they are done from there.
An infant showing no reaction to a fraction of a serving is a great sign, to be sure, and certainly makes you breathe a sigh of relief. But two important caveats. First, to be deemed non-allergic or tolerant of a protein you have to ingest enough in one sitting without a reaction. For peanut butter, that’s more than two teaspoons worth. Second, with baby’s rapidly changing immune system, there’s reason to believe a single exposure will not have the protective effects of sustained exposure. That means once is simply not enough. A baby must regularly eat peanuts and other potential allergens.
One theory for why sustained exposure is necessary is that, like the immune system, a baby’s gut bacteria changes as they go from breastfeeding to different solids. This is also the window during which the body might learn what to consider safe foods. Things their parents don’t feed them would possibly be categorized by the body as unsafe. So if a child gets a food regularly, starting early, it learns to leave it alone.
No one has studied the relative risk of food allergies in babies who only had peanut regularly for a week vs a month vs a year, so we don’t actually know how long is enough to be protective. But we do have real, solid data that regular feedings until a baby is at last 1 year old are protective, so it’s important to follow those suggestions.
We know it can be a pain getting potential allergens in baby’s diet, and keeping of this as well as all the other milestones you are monitoring (nevermind everything else in your life!). We designed Lil Mixins to reduce the amount of time you have to spend preparing potential allergens, and we pack enough in one bottle to last you all the way until your baby can start to eat the same foods as you. So whether you are making batches of food at home, and can mix a bit of Lli Mixins as part of your Sunday routine, or if you are grabbing a bottle or jar off the shelf, its one quick step toward making sure you are following the latest science and recommendations around early allergen exposure.