Many parents are concerned about egg allergy and babies but the latest advice from health experts around the world is clear: it’s important to give your baby eggs early in weaning to help reduce the chances of them developing an egg allergy later on. You’ll find out everything you need to know here.
Causes of egg allergy
Egg allergy is caused by an allergic reaction to egg protein. This protein is found mostly in the egg white but also in the yolk.
Introducing eggs to the baby’s diet
The current recommended weaning advice from the government is to begin the introduction of solid foods at around 6 months of age, whilst continuing to breast feed if possible. Babies can be given potentially allergenic foods such as eggs from around 6 months of age when complementary feeding is introduced. Delayed introduction beyond 6-12 months could result in a higher risk of allergy later in childhood.
New foods should be introduced one at a time. The more the egg is cooked or processed, the less likely it is to cause a reaction, so when first introducing eggs to your baby, try a well-cooked boiled or scrambled egg or an omelette which they can eat with their hands.
Once you know your baby can tolerate eggs, you can move on to a dippy egg and soldiers or other soft-cooked egg recipe. The latest government advice is that that babies can safely be given eggs cooked any way, including runny, as long as the eggs have the British Lion mark on, so you can always rustle up a quick and nutritious meal for your baby and mix them with other new foods to add some variety.
Once potentially allergenic foods such as eggs are introduced and tolerated, they should remain part of the baby’s diet. If babies are not given eggs regularly after their first exposure, this may increase the risk of future allergy.
Eggs in the mother's diet
Eggs are a highly nutritious food for women in pregnancy and when breastfeeding, as they are nutrient-dense, containing high-quality protein and several important vitamins and minerals.
There is no reason for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding their babies to avoid eggs, unless they themselves are allergic to them. In fact, there is some evidence that mothers who eat eggs when pregnant or when breastfeeding may help protect their babies against future egg allergy.
Allergic reactions to eggs
If your baby has an allergic reaction to eggs, it will probably happen immediately or within a few minutes although sometimes reactions may take a few hours to develop. Most reactions to egg are mild - often babies refuse the egg-containing food, develop redness and sometimes swelling around the mouth and may vomit after eating. Very rarely there may be a more severe reaction, but this is rarer in egg allergy than in milk or nut allergy.
Prevalence of egg allergy
Egg allergy affects around 1 in 50 children in the UK but fortunately, most reactions are mild and the majority of children will outgrow the allergy. By the age of six or seven, many egg-allergic children can eat eggs, and developing an egg allergy after this age is rare. It is estimated that only 0.5% of young adults in the UK are sensitive to eggs. Allergies tend to run in families so your baby may be more likely to develop allergies if you or your partner has them.
Why you can trust this page
All information checked by an independent Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian. The egginfo.co.uk website is provided by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC). BEIC is recognised by Government and Parliament as the representative voice of the UK egg industry.
For health professionals
Read more: Egg allergy in babies, for health professionals.