One in 13 children in America have food allergies, and the numbers are growing. So, if you are starting to introduce your baby to solids, it’s natural to have concerns about your child developing food allergies, intolerances, and other sensitivities, especially if you have a family history of allergies. Here are a few things to know about food allergies in babies.
101: FOOD ALLERGIES IN BABIES
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALLERGIES AND INTOLERANCES?
Allergies can be fatal whereas intolerances are merely discomfort, and may go away with time. In a child with a food intolerance, the immune system isn’t involved, and the response mostly affects the digestive system.
WHAT ARE ALLERGIES AND WHAT SYMPTOMS SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR?
In a child with food allergies, the immune system is reacting to the food by releasing antibodies. Symptoms of food allergies in babies may be gastrointestinal (diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, vomiting), skin-related (hives or rashes), as well as itching, baby colic or cramping.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT AN ALLERGY?
If you suspect your baby has a food allergy, you should stop offering that particular item and speak to your pediatrician before re-introducing it. In some cases, re-introducing food that a baby has an allergy to may intensify the allergic reaction.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT FUTURE FOOD ALLERGIES?
New research shows that introducing allergenic foods to your baby sooner rather than later may ward off any future food allergies. As long as you don’t have any family history of food allergies and your baby hasn’t shown any signs of an allergy, you can slowly introduce allergenic foods one at a time by six months. Remember to consult your pediatrician before doing this.
IN WHAT ORDER SHOULD YOU INTRODUCE NEW INGREDIENTS?
In short, anything goes. The AAP says it’s okay to introduce foods with mixed ingredients in any or no order.
However, if you have a family history of food allergies, we have a few recommendations:
- Keep an eye on potential allergies and watch out for tummy troubles, as their digestive systems take time to adjust.
- As a “test,” you may want to introduce the same meal over a few days or alternate between 2 meals for lunch and dinner over a few days.
- Research shows that introducing allergenic foods to your baby sooner rather than later may help ward off future allergies. If you don’t have a family history of food allergies, and your child hasn’t shown any signs of sensitivity, you can slowly introduce allergenic foods one at a time beginning at six months.
WHAT TYPES OF FOODS ARE ALLERGENIC?
While any food can cause allergy, some are more likely to trigger an allergic reaction in babies and children. The most common food allergens in children in the U.S. and many other countries include hen’s egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, and seafood.