Food Allergies and the 4-Day Wait Rule

An allergy is an abnormal reaction by the body’s immune system to some substance. An allergic reaction to food occurs when the body perceives an ingested food as a threat and overproduces antibodies to counteract it.

A 4 to 7 Day Waiting Period after the Introduction of Each New Food

When your baby eats a food that he is allergic to, a reaction (like hives) can occur immediately. Or a reaction can be delayed and occur several days later. Because of this, it is important that you wait several days after the introduction of any new food in order to see if that new food will trigger an allergic reaction. Hence, follow the 4-Day Wait Rule.

The 4-Day Wait Rule

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Introduce only one new food at a time. After you introduce your baby to a new food, do not introduce another new food for at least 4 days. During the 4-day waiting period, watch carefully for signs of allergies.

Note: Some experts recommend a 3-day period, some recommend 5 days. And still others recommend a full week of waiting between new foods. Consult with your paediatrician and follow his recommendation.
unit is important that you understand that a 4-day wait does not mean that you feed your baby lots of that one new food, or that you feed him only that new food during the allergic reaction. During the waiting period, feed him a variety of foods to which he has been previously introduced as well as some of the new food.

Wait No Longer than One Week

Some recommend waiting a full week after each new food. A one-week trial period is fine, but please don’t wait any longer than a week before giving your baby other foods. Feeding him one food for too long a time may produce a sensitivity in him to that food. A 4- to 7-day wait is a long enough time to determine if your baby has an allergy to a food.

Introduce Single Foods Only

Be careful that each new food is a single food. For example, don’t feed your baby yogurt for the first time mixed with peaches, if peaches have not been introduced before either. If there is an allergic reaction, you don’t know whether it was the peaches or the yogurt.

Watch for Signs of Allergies

After each new food is introduced, watch your baby carefully the 4-day period for any of the signs of allergies listed in the box. Most allergic reactions manifest themselves in vague symptoms, which you may not notice if you are not watching carefully. Although a lot of these symptoms are commonly caused by a cold or other illness, there is a possibility that they are instead indications of an allergy to the last-introduced new food.

Allergy symptoms can occur in almost any part of the body, but most commonly they manifest in the digestive tract (nausea, diarrhea, etc), the respiratory system (runny nose, wheezing, etc) and the skin (rashes, hives, etc). And as you can see in the list of Signs of Allergies in the box, they range from mild to severe, and even death can result. Incidence of serious food allergy is extremely rare in healthy babies, especially when solid foods are delayed until at least 5 months of age. And parents are usually aware of food allergies that run in the family. So please don’t worry over possible serious allergic reactions.

Signs of Allergies

nausea
vomiting
gas
diarrhoea
frequent bowel
movements
abdominal pain
bed wetting
cough
wheezing
breathing difficulties
asthma
runny nose
eye swelling
lip swelling
face swelling
rashes
diaper rash
hives
itching
eczema
mouth ulcers
headache
irritability
fatigue
behaviour problems
convulsions
shock
death

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