Food Allergy Living Blog

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Allergy-Friendly Cleaning Checklist - Clean Start for 2017

Posted 1.18.17 | Nutrition Specialist

It never seems to surprise me how fast time passes. Yet here we are at the beginning of another promising year with 2017 underway.

A new year brings a fresh start for many of us, so why not start the year off right with a clean start at home? Perhaps some home cleaning will help you start 2017 by making progress towards a resolution for the New Year, or just help you clear out some clutter from the previous years. Or maybe your family also has seasonal allergies in addition to food allergies. This may help you reduce pollen and allergens for your family.

Here are some general tips and a check list to get your household off to a clean start in 2017! Even a bonus section on tips to get your kitchen in order for a wonderful year of allergy friendly meals the whole family will enjoy.

General Tips:

  • Clean from Top to Bottom: One tip I have always found helpful from my first real job in a restaurant is to always clean top to bottom. Some see this as a great strategy for organizing yourself and cleaning from the top floor down. I have always found this strategy especially helpful to save time by cleaning from the top of the room down to the bottom and prevent cleaning an area twice.
  • Pre-Treat: For tough to clean areas such as a spot in the carpet or areas of the bathroom not often addressed, you can spray the area with the desired cleanser and let it sit and pre-treat the area while you clean elsewhere. For example, spray the cleanser on the carpet spot and let it sit while you perhaps dust the room or pick-up elsewhere. Then once the cleanser has had time to pre-treat and loosen the grime it is easier to clean and much less time scrubbing the area.
  • Recruit Help: Cleaning can be a bit more fun and much faster if it becomes a family affair. Enlist the help of the whole household to help you conquer these tasks while also making it a quick day. Then you can celebrate your hard work with a fun event or relaxing family night together. Truly a win-win.

If you want any ideas on a fun and allergy friendly activity to plan for family night then you might want to check post about DIY Allergy Friendly Play-Doh Recipes. Want a night out instead? Check out post about the Top 10 Allergy Friendly Restaurant Chains.

Check List:

Here is a quick check list of items that you will want to include when setting your game plan to get a clean start to 2017. Items that are often overlooked on a regular cleaning basis that will help you feel that your hard work has made a difference while also reducing potential allergens like dust and pollen in those areas less addressed.

  • Clean Walls: Cleaning the walls, and if you are feeling adventurous the baseboards also, can help reduce allergens and make a big difference in the look of your home. No need to re-paint for a room face list; a quick clean of the walls can provide the same bright new look. You may want to start with a quick wall sweep using the vacuum attachments. Then wipe with a clean damp cloth or all-purpose cleaner to do the trick. Make sure to pick an all-purpose cleaner that is appropriate for the paint or other coatings on your home walls. Don’t forget to clean the light switch on the wall.
  • Wash Curtains: Along with washing the walls, washing any curtains or window treatments will also help to reduce allergens and brighten up your rooms. Many are machine washable so throw them in the washer and by the time you are done washing the walls the curtains will be clean, dry and ready to go. A quick dust and wipe with a damp cloth for any blinds will make your wall cleaning complete
  • Clean Light Fixtures: This will help make those lights shine a bit brighter to help get your family through these last few months of short daylight hours. Remove any shades, light covers, or globes and wash and then wipe the bulbs and light fixture with a damp cloth and voila!! You will have a bright shining light fixture to brighten that room.
  • Purge & De-clutter: This step can be more time consuming, but a new year is a great time to get rid of items you no longer need. A good rule of thumb is to donate or discard anything that you have not used in the past year. I have to admit that I am a bit more conservative than this, but certainly that clothing item that you have not worn in a few years may be ready for donation. Donating items from your office, living room, attic and/or garage can be a great way to make some space and de-clutter items that you no longer need or want. You will be amazing how clean & organized a room can look once some excess items are removed.

Bonus, 3 Easy Steps to Allergy Friendly Kitchen Cleaning:

Want to get your kitchen in order to start 2017? Well here is a bonus section just for you.

Of course a kitchen deep clean is always a good idea at least a few times a year to keep appliances in good working order and clean those hard to reach places in likely one of the busiest and messiest spots in your home. Cleaning the shelves of the refrigerator, oven cleaning and such is something that is often recommended on a regular basis. Let’s look as some tips to clean up the actual food items and be prepared with easy, allergy friendly meal prep ideas for the coming year.

  1. De-Clutter: Go through the pantry and get rid of items that are expired, or no longer used. Anyone with a diet restriction in any way has a stock of products they have tried and did not work for them. And just about every kitchen has plenty of items in the pantry that were not used or you did not like for one reason or another. Well time to make some space and toss or donate them if they are not yet expired.
  2. Eliminate Hidden Allergen Ingredients: Now that you have cleared out the obvious items in your cabinets and cupboard that do not work for your family, it is time to take another look. This time get rid of anything with hidden allergens that do not work for your family. Not sure where to start? Well this post should help you find hidden dairy ingredients.
  3. Allergy Friendly Meal Planning: Now that you have made some space you can begin preparation for meal planning. Not sure where to start to plan allergy friendly meals this coming year, well the Neocate team had you covered there as well. Check out 10 Tips for Allergy Friendly Meal Planning. Or perhaps ideals to help you Make Mealtime Fun is what you need to get your year started on the right foot. And for your families that need ideas to get the whole family involved, 5 Food Allergy Friend Meal Planning Tips for the Entire Family.

What are you and your family doing to get a clean start in 2017? Have any suggestions you want to share with other Neocate families? Let us know in the comments below.

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN

2017 Food Allergy Conferences and Events

Posted 1.13.17 | Neocate Admin

There are many events throughout the year and country that help to raise funds and awareness for food allergies. These events are geared towards medical professionals as well as you, our food allergy families. To help you stay in-the-know, below you will find a list of key 2017 events. This isn’t meant as a comprehensive list of all 2017 events, but rather a highlight of a few events in which you may be interested.

The Food Allergy Research and Education ( FARE) group has many events throughout the year, including the FARE Walk for Food Allergy. Each year, tens of thousands of supporters gather in communities across the country at these events. These family friendly community gatherings help to raise awareness of food allergies and critical funds to support FARE’s mission. Here are the educational events that have already been announced.

You can visit FARE website to find a walk near you!

Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Expo– The largest gluten free and allergen friendly event in the US! The expo is held at multiple locations throughout the US. See below for the date and location best for you!

  • Feb 11-12 in San Diego, CA
  • April 22-23 in Schaumburg, IL
  • May 20-21 in Atlanta, GA
  • June 24-25 in Glendale AZ
  • July 22-23 in Worcester, MA
  • Oct 14-15 in Secaucus, NJ
  • Oct 28-29 in Dallas, TX
  • Nov 18-19 in San Mateo, CA

AAAAI 2017 Conferencewill be held in Atlanta, GA from March 3-6, 2017. This is a conference for allergists/immunologists, allied health and related healthcare professionals for four full days. Hundreds of educational offerings are available on a variety of topics including: allergic disease; asthma; immunotherapy; food allergy and GI disease; skin disease; PIDD; practice management; new technologies; and health care reform.

The FARE National Food Allergy Conference is an annual event gathering the country's leading food allergy experts and members of the food allergy community for a weekend of world-class programming. This year’s event will be April 28-30 in San Antonio, TX. The conference offers educational sessions presented by leading experts covering the latest research, tips and tools. Hundreds of members of the food allergy community from across the country converge to learn, connect and support each other. Living with food allergies can be overwhelming, and there is so much to learn about how to manage day to day. This conference may be able to help you with that!

May 4 – National FPIES Awareness Day

May 8-14 – Food Allergy Awareness Week

May 15-21 – National Eosinophil Awareness Week

Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang)is a one-week day camp designed for children ages 4-12. Locations throughout the United States with varying dates throughout the summer!

In July, APFED’s 15th Annual Patient Education Conference on Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders will be held on July 7-8. This conference focuses on families coming together to learn more about EoE and other gastrointestinal disorders, including management options. This event allows for networking and social interaction with others who may be going through the same thing as you!

The FAACT (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team) Teen Conferencewill be held on Oct 20-22in Cincinnati, OH for children aged 11-23 with food allergies, as well as siblings and parents of these children with food allergies.  There will be separate sessions for parents, siblings and teens as the focus for each group is different.

Do you know of any other events that others may want to participate? Let us know and help spread the word!

- Ellen

Ellen Sviland-Avery joined the Nutricia team during the summer of 2014. She has extensive experience in pediatrics, metabolics and tube feeding. Prior to coming to Nutricia, she worked in home infusion. She has been a registered dietitian for more than 12 years. Her passion in pediatric nutrition started when she was in Birmingham working with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and has continued throughout her career.

What Are Your Food Allergy Goals for 2017?

Posted 1.10.17 | Nutrition Specialist


At Neocate, we love seeing the progress that children with food allergies make as they grow from babies to toddlers and beyond. It’s no secret that the beginning of any food allergy journey is a challenge. But we know that it’s best to focus on even the smallest of victories, because for parents, incremental progress offers hope for the road ahead.

We asked the Neocate community what progress looks like for them. What we found is a common denominator among all parents: health and happiness for their little one.

Here’s what parents like you said about their goals for 2017:


“My goal is to pass at least one state of the milk ladder!” - Gemma


“My goal is finding safe foods for my daughter to eat.” - Amy


“My goal is to have my 18 month old son tolerate dairy. We’re getting there!” - Hayley


“Progress is being able to have safe foods and stable weight!” - Jennifer


“Progress is no more screaming in pain, just lots of smiles, laughs, and weight gain.” - Lindsay


What are your goals for 2017? Comment below or share on our Facebook page!

3 Easy Tips to Keep your Baby’s Food Safe

Posted 1.5.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Being a parent is arguably the most important job we will ever come across! We make sure everything in our home is safe for our little bundles of joy to sleep, play, eat and explore. At times it can be stressful and challenging, especially when your child has a food allergy. Safety is often the first thought on any parent’s mind, and food allergies can amplify any safety concern you might have as a parent.

Here are 3 easy tips to sharpen your food allergy safety skills.

Moms Breastfeeding Their Infants:

Great job to all you breastfeeding moms out there! You are providing your baby with the best source of nutrition, and the first choice of healthcare professionals worldwide. When your little one also has a food allergy, then you have likely also taken the extra step to eliminate the foods that your baby is reacting to from your own diet to continue to breastfeed your baby.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful and intimate time between mom and baby. As is common with all good things, it is also time consuming and a lot of work. So way to go all you moms who have eliminated suspected allergens from your own diet to support your little one!

Tip #1, for Lactating Moms: Make sure to read food labels closely. There are often “hidden” ingredients that contain the allergens you are trying to avoid. Let’s look at cow milk for example, the most common food allergen for little ones. If you are following an elimination diet to remove milk due to a cow milk allergy, then ingredients such as casein or whey will also need to be avoided. Be sure to look at ingredients for all items you consume including any vitamin or mineral supplements, or medications which may also contain ingredients from the allergens you are trying to avoid.

Here is a wonderful blog post to learn more about hidden allergens in medications, and one with more information on finding hidden food allergens when reading labels.

Parents Using Neocate Formula:

Perhaps breastfeeding was not an option for your family, or you were unable to continue to breastfeed your infant for one reason or another. Cheers to all you hard working parents who use Neocate to provide your baby with the nutrition your little one with food allergies needs to grow, develop and thrive when breastfeeding is not an option.

Food safety is always important when preparing food for your family, and the same care must be taken when preparing formula for your child. This can be especially true if your little one has any digestive conditions, is not gaining weight as expected, or struggling with an illness.

Tip #2, for Families Using Neocate: Follow all safety and sanitation recommendations when preparing Neocate. Make sure to sanitize all bottles and nipples as directed by your healthcare team. Keep surfaces clean and use good hand washing techniques - a must when preparing any formula to ensure your little one with food allergies consumes formula that has been safely prepared.

Many parents call us to inquire about our recommendation to use sterile water. While it is ultimately up to your healthcare team to determine what is best for your infant, the use of sterile water is our recommendation. Those of us here on the Neocate team put your families’ safety and health first!

If you want to learn more about how to prepare sterile water, or why we include that recommendation for preparation of our infant formula, you can read this blog post all about those very topic in our blog post To Sterilize or Not to Sterilize. For more general information on the proper storage and preparation of Neocate, you will not want to miss a recent post from one of our in-house Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Rob, on that very subject. Want more information? For more tips read our Simple How-to Guide.

Extended Family, Friends and Neighbors:

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I know I was lucky enough to have a very close family with friends and neighbors available to me as my personal village of support when growing up. I am still grateful for their love and support, and I imagine many of you are in the same boat as you raise your children and keep them safe with food allergies.

Way to go! I will also add a sincere thank you to all of you out there who are a vital member of the village when caring for the special little ones in your life, and especially any children with food allergies. Your support and time to make sure you know what is needed to keep children with food allergies safe is vital to their success, and no doubt deeply appreciated by their parents.

Tip #3, for the Extended Village Members: Take the time to get to know the details of your loved one's food allergies, including what is needed to provide them with the care and love they need while keeping their food safe.

Education is always important for extended family, friends and neighbors who will support your loved one with their food allergy. Your own personal village needs to be in-the-know so they are ready and prepared to help you whenever needed. Make sure to have those food allergy and general food safety conversations early. Provide any details in writing or tools necessary to best support your loved ones, which can be immensely helpful for your family's village of support.

Not sure how to have that conversation, or what they might need to know? Well no problem! Those of us here at Neocate have got you covered. Here is a post about the signs and symptoms of a cow milk allergy, or perhaps this one all about explaining food allergies to relatives will help you and your family at the moment. Here is one more about talking to your toddler about food allergies that I recently wrote as well, in case this is what is weighing on your mind these days.

Share these posts with anyone in your personal village of friends, extended family members and neighbors so they are in the know and ready to help keep your child with food allergies food-safe when needed.

Do you have any suggestions for us or others on how to keep you little one food safe? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN. LDN

Top 10 Neocate Allergy-Friendly Blog Posts of 2016

Posted 1.3.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Every year at Neocate, we take pride and effort to create and publish valuable blog posts, guides and videos for our customers to help along their food allergy journey. We cover topics from conditions overview, social advice like dealing with stress or school bullies, home life and much more.

Here as we kick off 2017, we’ve compiled a list of our 10 most popular blog posts according to you, our readers.

Top 10 Neocate Allergy-Friendly Blog Posts of 2016

  1. Your Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered!
  2. Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered – Round 2
  3. Got Milk? 17 Products with Hidden Dairy Ingredients
  4. Introducing Your Neocate Baby to Solids - Summer Treat
  5. Neocate Products – Similarities and Differences
  6. Tackling Your Daily Stressors…One Step at a Time
  7. Is Your Stress Impacting Your Family? Importance of Caregivers Managing Personal Stress
  8. FPIES –What Who When Which Why and How?
  9. Transitioning from Neocate Infant to Neocate Junior
  10. New Neocate Footsteps App – Support in YOUR Pocket

Those were our 10 most popular allergy-friendly blog posts of 2016! What was your favorite? And have no fear, there are still many great things coming in the year ahead. If you have a question or an idea that you would like for us to cover in the future, please don’t hesitate to post below.

Prebiotics vs Probiotics – Part 2

Posted 12.29.16 | Nutrition Specialist

As we shared in the first post in this two-part series, many people are confused about the differences between prebiotics and probiotics. A lot of us think they mean the same thing. That can make it hard to know what benefits they offer, which one is in the foods or supplements you're taking, or what questions to ask your healthcare team! The first post in this series reviewed prebiotics - with an "E" - what they are, when they may be beneficial, and why they're included in some nutritional products. Today - you guessed it - we'll review the same information for probiotics - with an "O"!

So, what are probiotics?

Probiotics, sometimes referred to informally as “good bugs,” are living microbes that are in some way good for us, or good for a specific condition. We naturally have lots and lots of microbes living in and on our bodies. In fact, if you count all of them, the number of human cells in our body is far outnumbered by the number of microbes! 

When you look at the microbes in our guts, you can classify them as ones that are neutral, ones that are beneficial, or ones that may be harmful. Probiotics are ones that are beneficial in some way. 

Consuming a probiotic puts some of a good microbe directly into your digestive tract. This can have general benefits, like crowding out potentially harmful microbes. Or it can have specific benefits. For example, some probiotics may be helpful for people with diarrhea related to antibiotics, and others can help people with specific digestive disorders.

Probiotics are available as supplements, such as in sachets, tablets or capsule form. Probiotics can also be present in certain foods, such as yogurts or other beverages. Probiotics are also added to some nutritional formulas. Of note, probiotics can be sensitive to heat, so don't cook foods that contain probiotics or add them to anything warmer than body temperature.

While everyday foods – in particular yogurt and fermented foods  – contain microbes, probiotics are specific microbes that are added to foods or formula. More on that below!

How do you define probiotics?

Here is a list of characteristics that have been used to define what makes a microbe a probiotic:

  1. a live microorganism (meaning that it's a bacteria, yeast, fungus, or alga that is still alive or dormant)
  2. that, when administered in adequate amounts (meaning you have to take enough of it)
  3. confers a health benefit on the host (that's us!)

So, in essence a probiotic is a living microbe that we take as a supplement or add to food or nutritional formula for the benefits it offers. The benefits come from the fact that every microbe is unique. I like to compare them to plants and animals: some live on land, in the air, or in water; some plants make energy from the sun, some animals eat plants, and some animals eat animals. Taken together, plants and animals form a giant community with lots of different roles. The microbes in our gut have a similar community with different roles.

That introduces another concept that's crucial to probiotics. First, it's important to know that most probiotics are bacteria, though probiotic yeasts are also common. But bacteria come in a HUGE variety of shapes, sizes, and they're able to do many different things. Because of that, a probiotic is a specific strain of a bacterium. 

So what are some examples, and how do you know what strain you have? Well all strains start with a genus name, which is broad. Examples include Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. Next is the species name which comes after the genus name. Examples are L. rhamnosusL. reuteriB. breve, and B. lactis. (Since we already named the genus, we can abbreviate it to the capital letter!)

But those names only tell you the species. With bacteria, the strain is even more specific than the species, and different strains within the same species can be very different. Unless you know the strain, you don't really know what probiotic you're taking. Names that include strains are L. rhamnosus GG, L. reuteri DSM 17938, B. breve M-16V, and B. lactis Bb-12. (Notice how the genus and species are in italics, but the strain is not. Funny science!) These are just a handful of examples.

Of note, while all yogurt is made using bacteria, not all yogurt contains probiotics. Even buying yogurt that says "live active cultures" doesn't necessarily mean it contains probiotics. The bacteria used to make yogurt can be considered "beneficial bacteria," but they haven't been shown to have any specific benefits, so are not probiotics. Some yogurts, though, do have an added probiotic strain that has demonstrated benefits.

Why should I consider taking probiotics? How will it benefit me?

While all probiotics have some benefit, they are not all the same. Various probiotics have been shown to have a variety of health benefits. Probiotics may help to bring the community of microbes in the gut back into balance. They can also influence digestion or other aspects of health. Here are some conditions in which research has found strong or moderate evidence that specific probiotics may be helpful:

  • Managing infectious diarrhea
  • Lessening risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Lessening risk of daycare-associated diarrhea
  • Lessening risk of nosocomial diarrhea (related to infections picked up in a hospital)
  • Managing Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, Ulcerative colitis)
  • Managing atopic dermatitis associated with food allergy
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Again, there are specific strains that have been studied for these conditions, and a healthcare provider can provide more information about which specific strains and how strong the evidence is.

People who take probiotics might have been prescribed them by a physician, or might be looking for specific benefits. The best thing to do if you have questions about the possible benefits of probiotics is to talk to your healthcare team. They can help you to understand the possible benefits of adding probiotics to your diet, and may be able to help you choose the best source or type.

Why are probiotics in some nutritional formulas?

For breast-fed infants, breast milk naturally contains beneficial bacteria. These bacteria come from the mom and can help to provide a community of microbes for the infant. Sometimes this community can get out of balance - more of some and less of others than is typical - and the addition of probiotics to an infant formula can help to correct that imbalance. The probiotics added to various infant formulas include:

  • B. breve M-16V
  • B. lactis Bb-12
  • B. longum BB536
  • L. reuteri DSM 17938
  • L. rhamnosus GG
  • L. rhamnosus HN0001

In the Neocate family of products, Neocate Syneo Infant (for infants) is supplemented with the probiotic B. breve M-16V. It also contains the prebiotics scFOS and lcFOS. The combination of probiotics and prebiotics is known as a synbiotic.

We hope that these two posts helped clear up any confusion! What questions do you have about probiotics?


Rob McCandlish is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who joined the Nutricia team in 2010. Rob has years of experience at Nutricia following food allergy research, working with Neocate products, talking with Neocate families and learning about the science behind Neocate and food allergies. Rob has two nephews who both used Neocate for their cow milk allergies!

How to Make Every Bite Count When Your Child Has Multiple Food Allergies

Posted 12.28.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Small tummies fill up quickly, so you want to make sure every bite is full of nutrition! This can be a challenge because your child’s food choices may be limited either by what they CAN safely eat or what they are willing to eat. Sometimes it may seem like their most desired foods are chips and crackers or sweet treats and cereal. These foods are often highly processed and usually low in vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and fat-- all nutrients that growing children need. For kids with multiple food allergies on an elimination diet, good nutrition can still be achieved. Be sure to offer fresh fruits and vegetables and combine foods that are lacking nutrition with foods that are naturally nutrition-packed or fortified.

How do you do that?

  • Spreads and dips are a great way to add nutrition to chips, crackers and sandwiches. Any kind of bean makes a great high protein, high fiber spread or dip. Try refried pinto beans with salsa or avocado, garbanzo beans with lemon juice and garlic. Vegan mayonnaise can also be a good base for a dip or spread. Boost the nutrition of vegan mayonnaise by adding mashed avocado and/or mashed beans with one tablespoon Neocate Jr for every tablespoon of mayonnaise. Adding unflavored Neocate Jr with probiotics works well for savory dips and spreads and not only adds vitamins, minerals, protein and fat but prebiotics also helps to feed the good bacteria in the your child’s intestine. Strawberry or chocolate Neocate Jr can be mixed with coconut cream or non-dairy yogurt for a sweet dip.
  • Vegan cheeses made from rice or tapioca are great for adding variety but do not have the nutrients your child need. Serve with a slice of meat or fortify your condiments, mix unflavored Neocate Jr with probiotics with vegan cream cheese or mayonnaise.
  • Trail mix is a great snack, include gluten-free pretzels, cereal, freeze dried fruits and if allowable sunflower seeds for protein. Look for wheat-free cereals that are fortified.
  • Homemade baked goods are easy to “home-fortify.” Use sunflower butter for 1/2 of the fat in cookie recipes; add chopped raisins or other dried fruit to cookies or muffins. Create custom cookie or muffin flavors by adding a few scoops of flavored Neocate Jr to your favorite recipes. Find guidance on cooking with Neocate Jr here
  • Smoothies and shakes can be good meal replacements but only if the shake or smoothie contains not only fruits and veggies but also fat and protein. Toss in some avocado or 2-3 scoops of Neocate Jr to keep your child ready to play and learn.

-Patricia Novak MPH RD CLE LD

Today's guest blog post is by Patricia Novack. Patricia has 30 years experience working with children and adolescents with autism, developmental disabilities, food allergies and chronic illness.  Her work includes clinical practice in both hospital and community based programs, professional training and curriculum development.  The common thread throughout has been addressing feeding issues in children from infancy through adolescence.

Navigating Holidays with Food Allergies

Posted 12.22.16 | Nutrition Specialist

It’s the hustle bustle time of year - the HOLIDAY SEASON! Sprinkle this with food allergies and it’s like a manic Monday every day. Are you feeling this? I know I am and I look for any go-to guidance I can get. Would you like some Holiday Help? I thought so. Below I’ve got 15 resources to assist you in navigating all things holiday. Check it out!


  1. Tips to make traveling with food allergies just a bit easier
  2. Tips for traveling by train, plane, or automobile with Neocate
  3. Stay up-to-date with all things Neocate using the Neocate Footstep App!
  4. Learn more about TSA special procedures for traveling here
  5. Calling the TSA Cares hotline to answer questions about what you can bring on an airplane at 1-855-787-2227
  6. Kids with Food Allergies offers eight great travel tips to help avoid allergic reactions and enjoy the holidays


  1. Check out 3 great tips for hosting parties and get togethers where some guests have food allergies
  2. Browse 3 delicious recipes for a festive holiday
  3.  FAACT offers this list of fabulous tips to make sure you maintain allergy safety with food during the holiday season
  4. The pretty bee shares how to stock your pantry for holiday baking
  5. Kids With Food Allergies has several great guides for recipe substitution
  6. Snack Safely has a GREAT holiday snack list good through 1/3/2017. Visit this page to download a copy. And remember, they continually update the information, so be sure to visit regularly to download the latest version!


  1. Family outdoor activities for the Holidays to help everyone stay sane!
  2.  Check out this video - Ms. Miller, the founder and president of Allergic Girl Resources, Inc., discusses talking to relatives and friends when planning holiday events, reframing holiday meaning and connecting with the joy of the season.
  3. Will grandparents be helping care for the grandkids this holiday season? FAACT just developed a comprehensive guide to help grandparents caring for kids with allergies right here.
  4. How great is this? A customizeable letter from Santa to help an allergic child feel like part of the Christmas cookie fun. Santa wants your little one's help in ensuring the elves with food allergies can enjoy a cookie too!
  5. Always be prepared. Keep in mind these 6 things that save lives in case of a severe food allergy emergency from Allergic Living.

The Neocate team at Nutricia wishes you the best of the Holiday Season and a happy and healthy New Year!

Prebiotics vs Probiotics – Part 1

Posted 12.20.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Many people are confused about the differences between prebiotics and probiotics. Do you think they mean the same thing? I know I thought that for a while! Which one is better for me? How do I know if I have a prebiotic or a probiotic? We'll have a series of two blog posts that will help to define prebiotics and probiotics and explain why it may be beneficial to have both! This first post in the series covers prebiotics, with an "E"!

So, what are prebiotics?

Prebiotics, sometimes referred to as “prebiotic fibers,” are non-digestible fibers that act as a food source for the bacteria that naturally live in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. You can think prebiotics as fertilizer for “good” gut bacteria. Examples of prebiotics that you may see on food labels include inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and polyols, including lactulose (1).

Prebiotics can also be found naturally in many foods including human breast milk, whole grains, bananas, garlic, onions, artichokes and honey. This list is not all-inclusive but will give you an idea of what foods contain prebiotics. Of note, it is ok to cook foods that contain prebiotics without losing many of the benefits of prebiotics.

While everyday foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds – contain fiber, we tend to think of prebiotics as specific fiber-like ingredients that are added to foods or formula. Many different everyday foods now have prebiotics added, and some nutritional formulas have prebiotics added. Prebiotics can also be taken as a supplement to the diet, for example a powder that you stir into foods or beverages.

How do you define prebiotics?

While all prebiotics act like fibers, not all fibers are prebiotics. Here is a list of characteristics that have been used to define which molecules are prebiotics: (2)

  1. a non-digestible food ingredient (meaning that our digestive enzymes can’t break it down)
  2. that beneficially affects the host (that’s us!)
  3. by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or more of a limited number of bacteria in the colon that can improve the host health

So, in essence a prebiotic is something that we add to food or nutritional formula for the benefits it offers. The benefits come from the fact that only certain “good” gut bacteria tend to digest the prebiotic, meaning that they grow and thrive while other less-helpful bacteria may be crowded out.

Why should I consider taking prebiotics? How will it benefit me?

While prebiotics are basically different types of fiber, not all fiber is the same. Various prebiotics have been shown to have a variety of health benefits (3,4). Prebiotics may help to support normal bowel function. Some studies have also shown that certain prebiotics may help with nutrient absorption, such as the absorption of calcium. And some prebiotics can help to support normal levels of “good” gut bacteria if those levels are low for some reason.

Since most prebiotics can be found in small amounts as part of the fiber in the foods we eat, you are probably already getting prebiotics in your diet and don’t even know it! So if you’re eating your fruits and veggies, you’re already getting the benefits of prebiotics!

People who take prebiotics might have low amounts of fiber in their diet, or might be looking for specific benefits. The best thing to do if you have questions about the possible benefits of prebiotics is to talk to your healthcare team. They can help you to understand the possible benefits of adding prebiotics to your diet, and may be able to help you choose the best source or type.

Why are prebiotics in some nutritional formulas?

For breast-fed infants, breast milk naturally contains molecules – human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) – that behave like prebiotics. They are essentially a form of fiber that supports certain types of bacteria. Multiple health benefits have been attributed to HMOs for breastfed infants. For this reason, many infant formulas have added prebiotics to try to bring some similar benefits to those seen with HMOs. The prebiotics added to various infant formulas are:

  • Short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS, a.k.a. fructooligosaccharides)
  • Long-chain fructooligosaccharides (lcFOS, a.k.a. inulin)
  • Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Polydextrose (PDX)

The diets of typical toddlers, children and teenagers contains foods that are sources of fiber. When the diet is supplemented with a formula or made up of mostly or only formula, the level of fiber in the diet is often lower. Choosing a formula with added prebiotics can make up for some of the lower fiber in the diet. The prebiotics added to various nutritional formulas for children include:

  • scFOS
  • lcFOS
  • resistant starch
  • pectin

In the Neocate family of products, Neocate Syneo Infant (for infants) and Neocate Junior with Prebiotics (for children) are the two formulas that are supplemented with prebiotics. Both formulas contain scFOS and lcFOS, but in different amounts and in different ratios.

Now that you've learned about prebiotics, check out the second post in this two-part series about probiotics, with an "O"!
What questions do you have about prebiotics?


Ellen Sviland-Avery joined the Nutricia team during the summer of 2014. She has extensive experience in pediatrics, metabolics and tube feeding. Prior to coming to Nutricia, she worked in home infusion. She has been a registered dietitian for more than 12 years. Her passion in pediatric nutrition started when she was in Birmingham working with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and has continued throughout her career.

1. Slavin J. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-1435.
2. Gibson GR. J Nutr. 1999;129(7 Suppl):1438S-41S.
3. Saavedra JM, et al. Br J Nutr. 2002;87S2:S241.
4. Waligora-Dupriet AJ, et al. Int J Food Microbiol. 2007;113:108.

Baby Formula Prep Machines and Neocate Mixing

Posted 12.15.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Technology – what would we do without it! Today we have appliances designed solely to brew our coffee, to shuck an ear of corn, and to open soup cans. I’ve even seen countertop appliances designed to cook frozen pizzas that do nothing else! And really, who can blame us. We’re busy. We have full-time jobs, busy families, full social calendars, and no free time. Add a new infant to the mix, and you need 24 hours to get things done with no time left over to sleep.

It’s a given, then, that we look for ways and devices to help simplify parenting. If you’ve ever had to prepare a bottle of formula in the middle of the night while trying to comfort a crying infant, you know how challenging this can be. Companies know this and have come up with ways to simplify tasks that come with parenting infants. There are now appliances that can steam and puree baby foods, wash and dry baby bottles, and also prepare bottles of infant formula.

Which begs the question: Can you trust an appliance from an independent company to prepare any infant formula? And how about specialized formulas, like Neocate? Today, we’ll walk through some points to consider and share our perspective on this question.

Infant formula prep appliances

What are they, and what do they do? Appliances that are designed to prepare infant formula were introduced in the United States several years ago. The premise? They make bottle prep much simpler. They save you time by reducing the number of steps you have to take when you’re in desperate need of a bottle.

How do they work? There are several types of appliances available. Here is a basic rundown of the functions they perform:

1.     Some baby formula prep machines are designed to work with very specific capsules of infant formula, and not with any other infant formulas. That appliance clearly cannot be used for any other off-the-shelf powdered infant formula. It’s similar to some of the automatic coffee and espresso appliances available these days, which have pods.

2.     Other appliances are designed to be very simple to operate too. Whenever you need a bottle of formula you press a button and, in no time at all, you have a bottle of warm, prepared formula ready to go – no muss, no fuss. These appliances are designed to be universal – used with almost all powdered infant formulas:

  • An enclosed container holds infant formula powder.
  • A reservoir holds water
  • The appliance heats water to a certain temperature
  • The appliance is intended to dispense the right amount of powder and warm water to prepare formula at the standard concentration

3.     Still other appliances will dispense heated water into a bottle to which you manually add powdered infant formula, saving you the step of warming and measuring out the water. These appliances are designed to be universal – used with any powdered infant formula.

  • An enclosed container holds water.
  • You place the bottle under a dispenser
  • The appliance dispenses a small amount of very hot water.
  • You add the powdered infant formula.
  • The appliance then dispenses the remaining water

All of these “universal” appliances - not the very specific type that we described first with the formula pods - are meant to remove some or all of the hassles of measuring the powder, heating water, measuring the water, and/or mixing the formula. What’s not to love?

A perusal of online reviews shows that these appliances haven’t always worked as well as buyers might hope. Some models also seem to have been discontinued in the US in the past. Another drawback is that some of the appliances require regular and, in some cases, pretty comprehensive cleaning.

These appliances offer a number of different volume options, for example as little as 2 to as much as 11 ounces. The ones that dispense powder also have instructions for settings designed to dispense the right amount of formula powder. This is important, because too little or too much powder can lead to formula that’s too dilute or too concentrated. This can pose serious health risks for infants.

What we recommend

Nutricia cannot recommend the use of automated infant formula prep appliances to prepare Neocate. As a company that makes specialized formulas for infants with unique medical conditions, we take the health and safety of our customers and your little ones very seriously.

Factor 1: Mixing accuracy

Nutricia cannot ensure that the amount of Neocate powder dispensed by any of these appliances is accurate. The manufacturers of these appliances may state otherwise. The scoops that we provide with our Neocate formulas are validated for use with these formulas. (Even more accurate than the scoops provided are scales that measure in grams.) Just as important is the volume of water, which should also be measured accurately and can affect formula concentration.

Factor 2: Temperature

Some of the infant formula prep appliances dispense a small amount of water that is very hot (about 158°F, or 70°C). This is based on recommendations followed in some parts of the world to use very hot water when preparing powdered infant formula. However, this is not standard practice in the United States.

For now we cannot recommend using water above 122°F (50°C) when mixing powdered Neocate products. (For Neocate Syneo Infant this is 104°F, or 40°C.) Following questions about higher water temperatures, we conducted small-scale tests on a few specific heat-sensitive nutrients mixing Neocate with water at the high temperature of 158°F (70°C).

We found the high temperature had an impact on those nutrients. While the effect during these tests did not lower the nutrient levels below the amounts stated on the label, at this time we cannot recommend exposing Neocate powders to water above 122°F, or 50°C (104°F, or 40°C, for Neocate Syneo Infant). Aside from the potential impact on heat-sensitive nutrients, there is also the possibility that using such hot water can slightly affect the taste, smell, and ability to remain in solution (i.e. to not separate).

In closing…

While these are our recommendations, we understand that automated infant formula prep appliances seem incredibly convenient. Our best guidance if you are interested in using one of these appliances is to check with your healthcare team. Share the information we’ve outlined above with them. While we don’t recommend these appliances, your healthcare team can assess the potential drawbacks to help determine if any of them might be appropriate for you.

We hope this helps, but feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments, below!


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About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.