Food allergies are a rapidly growing public health concern. According to the CDC, 8% of kids in the United States are affected by a food allergy, and that number is projected to rise.
Ready, Set, Food! A new baby nutritional program claims that it can reduce your baby’s risk of developing allergies by up to 80%. This caught my eye.
When I was pregnant with both of my children, I was advised to eat allergens (peanuts, milk, egg, etc) during my term. Then, when my children were born, I was advised to introduce them to allergens slowly, which I did.
Neither of my kids has any known food allergies, but I know so many that do. My son’s preschool class has several. I figured that I just got lucky and didn’t have kids with allergies. But after doing some research, it appears that may not be the case.
Is there really a way to prevent your child from developing food allergies? Is there a right and wrong way to do it? Aren’t some kids just going to have allergies no matter what?
These were all questions I had, which made me incredibly eager to dive deeper into Ready, Set, Food!, especially after watching this brand on Shark Tank. Below is my complete review based on all my research into the brand and food allergies in babies.
Food Allergies in Babies: What You Need to Know
Why does it seem like we’re all of a sudden hearing so much about food allergies in babies and kids? Because the problem is growing. The incidence of food allergies in the US increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011.
Why? Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but they think it’s due to a few things; greater awareness of allergies among doctors and parents (the more you know), weakened immune systems due to a decrease in exposure to bacteria, and a lack of exposure to common allergens during infancy.
Before I dive into reviewing Ready, Set, Food!’s approach to tackling this growing problem, here are some need-to-know facts about food allergies (which I did not understand myself!):
ALL babies are at risk of food allergies – The majority of children who are diagnosed do not have direct family members with food allergies.
Peanut, egg, and milk are the most common allergens – These three combined make up more than 80% of childhood allergens.
Babies are NOT born with allergies – Food allergies actually develop over time. Science has now shown us that there is a critical immune window for prevention.
Next up, I’m going to talk about Ready, Set, Food!: who they are, what they do, and how they do it.
What is Ready, Set, Food!?
Ready, Set, Food! Is an allergy prevention program that was created by a group of physicians, scientists, parents, and entrepreneurs who are passionate about making early allergen introduction as simple and straightforward as possible.
Chief Allergist Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan and Co-Founder Dr. Andrew Leitner, both share their own stories with introducing their babies to allergens, which turned into motivation for them to start a company that makes it easier, safer, and more effective for parents to implement for their children.
For Dr. Marks-Cogen, she did all the work to introduce her infant to allergens, however, she felt exhausted by the work it required her to put in. She spent hours per week measuring foods and trying to get her picky eater to consume them. Dr. Leitner, on the other hand, waited too long to introduce allergens to his son, resulting in a scary allergic reaction to peanuts at the age of 7 months. He realized that he had missed the critical immune window which resulted in his child suffering from several food allergies.
Together with a group of other professionals and passionate parents, they created a program that allows you to introduce top allergens (cow’s milk, eggs, and peanuts) via an organic powder that’s designed to easily dissolve into breastmilk or formula. With the help of this dedicated system, you can take the steps necessary to introduce your baby to allergens and protect them from developing allergies – all before they can even eat solid food!
How it Works
Ready, Set, Food! Has two stages and they follow AAP guidelines:
Stage 1 – Gentle 15-day intro that’s intended for babies aged 4-11 months to gradually introduce one food (allergen) at a time, starting with an ultra-low dose and building up from there. Each daily dose (packet of powder) is added to a bottle of breastmilk or formula or is combined with solid food (works best with pureed baby food). The packets and system are clearly laid out for you, so there is no guesswork whatsoever. You’ll introduce one food at a time, following medical guidelines.
Here’s what the breakdown of stage 1 looks like:
- Days 1-4: Organic cow’s milk
- Days 5-8: Organic cow’s milk, organic cooked egg white
- Days 9-11: Organic cow’s milk, organic peanut, organic cooked egg white
Stage 2 – Continue for 6+ months by sustaining exposure with safe, daily maintenance that’s designed to continue to reduce your child’s chance of developing a food allergy. This stage also includes an easy to understand and implement system which includes the right amount of peanut, egg, and milk per day. You’ll continue with this stage for at least 6 months or until your baby is regularly eating these foods at least 3 times per week.
This is the maintenance phase which includes a regular infusion of organic cow’s milk, organic peanut, and organic cooked egg white.
The most important thing to note is that BOTH phases are incredibly important. Don’t just stop after stage 1 because stage 2 is also a vital step in preventing allergies as it’s the early and consistent exposure that will effectively prevent them.
There are no additives or sugar in these packets!
Why Choose Ready, Set, Food!?
As I mentioned, I kind of just assumed that some people were born with allergies and some weren’t. And the way we would find out would be to introduce them to our children at the appropriate age and wait for a reaction or lack of reaction.
After exploring allergies and the Ready, Set, Food! system, I am so much more informed and aware. I now understand the benefits of early introduction and wholeheartedly believe that this is an amazing system to use for allergen introduction for your babies.
Here are some of the reasons why you should seriously consider RSF:
- It’s founded by Doctors and parents – Both founders, Dr. Leitner and Dr. Marks-Cogan are not only brilliant doctors, but they’re also parents. They understand the need to mix science and research with the responsibilities that come with making the best decisions for the health of their children.
- It’s all based on science – Just one look at the RSF website and you’ll see that education is paramount for their team. They not only explain what their product is, but they link to and illustrate a number of research studies for full transparency and authority. Parents can feel good about their decision to choose this brand because they make it evident that their products are based on scientific research and facts.
- It’s so straightforward to use – They take the guesswork, hassle, and confusion out of introducing your kids to allergens safely. It’s one packet per day and that’s it.
- The dosing is precise and rooted in science – Along the same vein as the last point, the dosing is based on studies and guidelines. Each packet is designed to build on the next. The layered step system allows for one allergen at a time, per recommendations.
- It’s simple to administer – The powder can be mixed right into breastmilk, formula, or even with some pureed food. It doesn’t make the mixture thick, so no worries about clogging the bottle nipples.
A: Technically, yes, especially if this will be your baby’s first exposure to a food other than breast milk or formula. However, Ready, Set, Food! Was created by doctors and is heavily based on the most up to date research and data available, making it one of the safest and most methodical approaches to allergens in infants That said, you should always consult with your pediatrician before trying anything new and in the case of a reaction, contact the RSF team via email or live chat. You can also check out this blog post on how to identify an allergic reaction and what to do in the event of one.
A: There’s is definitely a link between eczema and food allergies, in fact, babies with eczema have a 1 in 3 chance of developing food allergies. According to the most recent guidelines, early allergen introduction is crucial for babies with this condition. That said, if your baby’s eczema is severe, speak with your pediatrician or allergist before beginning RSF or any other allergen introduction.
A: Scientifically speaking, yes, Ready Set Food is safe as it gradually introduces babies to one allergen at a time, starting with an ultra-low dose of each and slowly increasing the amounts as indicated by research and clinical studies. The result is that the initial allergen exposure is much gentler than what most parents would feed their babies. In the clinical trials (LEAP, EAT, PETIT), there were zero cases of severe allergic reactions. The babies in the studies were between the ages of 4-11 months and there were, in total, over 2,000 infants who participated.
A: Yes, but the company recommends that you discuss your baby’s intolerance with his or her pediatrician to get the best advice for your child’s unique needs. Both food allergies and food intolerances can make someone feel uncomfortable, and it can be hard to know the difference between the two. This article provides some good insight into the difference between the two. If your baby has a milk or egg allergy or intolerance, RSF also has a dairy-free option to check out.
A: The newest USDA guidelines support early allergen introduction beginning at age 4 months, however, you can start RSF anywhere from 4-11 months of age. In doing my research into this brand, I discovered that many women who very reluctant to begin any kind of supplement before the age of 6 months, speaking particularly to exclusive breastfeeding moms. The most important thing to understand is that this is a personal choice that should be made in conjunction with your doctor’s consent and with your own personal thoughts, beliefs, and comfort levels.
A: When you decide to use Ready, Set, Food! To introduce your baby to common allergens, you’ll automatically be enrolled in a monthly recurring subscription via their website. You can choose from 1, 3, or 6-month increments. The longer the term of your subscription, the more money you save. With the monthly subscription, you can cancel at any time. Otherwise, you’ll be charged every 30-days for the duration of your subscription and will receive your box delivered to your door every month. Once your initial subscription term is up, it will automatically renew to the flexible month-to-month plan at the same discounted price!
A: No, there is no cure for food allergies, and RSF is not meant to be used as a treatment for them. This product is simply designed to make early introduction to the top 3 allergens in children easy and safe for parents.
A: There are more than 170 food that have been classified as triggers for food allergies, however, the FDA classifies only 8 as many allergens in the US, these include; milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, wheat, and soy. Out of those top 8, milk, peanut, and egg makeup 80% of allergens found in kids. Other allergies typically develop as we enter adulthood.
A: The monthly cost breakdown is as follows:
✔ $49 per month for the monthly subscription
✔ $39 per month for a 3-month subscription
✔ $29 per month for a 6-month subscription.
Ready, Set, Food! Reviews: What are customers saying online about this early allergen introduction product?
According to Amazon.com, there are 213 reviews of Ready Set Food, with 80% being excellent. After reading through all of the comments, I discovered that the majority of parents feel that this product has helped them to demystify the allergen process in babies. They love the slow, gradual process and the fact that they can easily mix the powder into a bottle and feed it to their baby.
As with any product, there are a handful of negative reviews. The critical reviews mostly revolved around the customers complaining that their child did not like the taste of the product, and therefore did not consume it or threw it up. To this, I would comment that every baby is different and that it may take some time and experimenting to find a consumption method that works for you and your baby. Additionally, their customer care team is amazing and always available for help via email, [email protected], or their live chat option on their website.
Final Thoughts and Would I Use This Product?
My babies aren’t babies anymore. Well, they are two and four at the time I’m writing this. I didn’t even know that such a product existed back then. That said, after doing all this research and reading through countless reviews, I can say with certainty that I would absolutely use this system for my children.
I am thoroughly impressed with the level of scientific research and data that this brand presents in support of its product. This is truly a product that was designed out of sheer desire to make parent’s lives easier and help kids avoid dealing with uncomfortable, and sometimes life-threatening food allergies.
It’s thrilling to me to see direct to consumer companies hitting the market that have an honest mission and desire to change the world for the better, and this is certainly one of them. If you have an infant or are expecting, do your research and decide whether or not this is the right product for you and your family. In my opinion, it’s the easiest, safest way to make sure that your child is getting the exposure they need, at the time they need it, and in the right amounts.
If you’re considering trying this product, they have a great quiz that you can take to find out your baby’s risk of developing food allergies. Completion of the quiz will also get you a $20 off discount code!