As an allergist, Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan was committed to following the latest research with her son– which meant spending a ton of time preparing and measuring foods for her baby. Realizing there had to be a better way, Dr. Marks-Cogan teamed up with a handful of experts to create Ready, Set, Food!, a system that allows parents to easily and safely introduce allergens to their children. Dr. Marks-Cogan shared more about the journey to creating Ready, Set, Food!, the latest research on childhood food allergies and a heartwarming moment between her two little ones.
How did you come up with the idea for Ready, Set Food!?
As a board-certified allergist, I’ve seen firsthand how families struggle with food allergies. Thankfully, findings from these landmark studies have opened our eyes to new ways of thinking about allergy prevention in children.
But as a mom, I also know how difficult it can be to consistently introduce your baby to allergenic foods. When my son David was five months old, I prepared egg, peanut, and yogurt snacks for him to eat daily. Unfortunately, this process was very time-consuming and frustrating— and most of what I offered him to eat ended up either on my kitchen floor or on his face. Motivated by my clinical and personal experience, along with a team of passionate physicians, leading experts and parents, we set out to create a product that made early and sustained introduction safe, simple, and effective.
It can be hard to keep up with the latest theories on childhood food allergies. What does the latest research tell us?
Over the last few decades, food allergy rates have increased significantly. Fortunately, parents can now help reduce their infants’ risk of developing peanut and other food allergies, according to recent landmark studies on early and sustained allergen exposure. These studies showed up to an 80% reduction in food allergies by exposing infants to potentially allergenic foods early and often. Research methods included the introduction of allergenic foods starting around four months of age and sustaining exposure on a regular basis for several months.
The results of these studies led the AAP and NIH to develop new clinical guidelines for allergen introduction. Notably, these guidelines recommend introducing your baby to common allergenic foods as early as 4-6 months of age. This is a marked shift from previous guidelines, which recommended allergen avoidance for a baby’s first few years of life.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
As a mom of two, I don’t get much time to relax and unwind these days, but when I do it involves some form of exercise (a hike or pilates are my faves), a hot shower and a phone call or text session with a close friend.
What is your best parenting hack?
Make allergen introduction safe, simple and easy by using Ready, Set, Food!
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
If he doesn’t floss and brush his teeth, “sugar bugs” will stay in his mouth all night and take his teeth away.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
I feel so delighted when I watch my four-year-old son talk to and “read” a book to my one-year-old daughter when they think no one is watching. I’m proud of the little boy he’s turning into.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
Becoming a physician has been a significant personal accomplishment for me as I’m the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college and the only physician in my extended family. I worked hard and made many sacrifices to achieve this goal, including balancing many jobs throughout college while maintaining high grades. I believed this was an occupation where I could affect people’s lives in a very personal way. So I will try to motivate my children to find a career that they’re passionate about and to work hard to achieve their goals.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
Don’t sweat the small stuff (even though I find that can be hard to do sometimes!).
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
“Tackle” is a great way to put it as I think it’s something that’s very difficult to do. I’m always learning from other working parents and trying not to be too hard on myself when that “balance” is a bit off. Managing a career and a business takes time and effort, but it’s easier when you are passionate about what you do.
What was the last book you read?
Bossypants by Tina Fey (and by “read” I mean listened to an audio book version).
Favorite Beauty Product:
Hoola bronzing powder
Favorite Form of Exercise:
What is on your DVR?
To be totally honest, Real Housewives of NYC. I can’t be the only one!
Favorite Kids Store: