Food Allergies in Infants & Toddlers—Nothing to Sneeze at
Toddler & Baby Food Allergies—Nothing to Sneeze At | Similac®
Identifying potential food allergy symptoms
As you begin moving your child to solid foods, you might notice an unusual reaction during or after feeding. Although it shouldn’t be ignored, an allergic reaction to food is not uncommon. It’s estimated that 1 in every 13 children in the United States has food allergies.1,2 So, be alert when introducing new foods to your child, and look for the allergy symptoms noted below.
Many foods can trigger an allergic reaction, and symptoms of food allergy vary among children. Some food allergies will go away as a baby grows older and some could be lifelong. If you suspect that your child may be experiencing symptoms of a food allergy, speak to your baby’s healthcare professional.
Should you avoid the most common food allergies in babies?
Although many concerned parents avoid giving their babies foods with potential allergens until late infancy or toddlerhood, this may not be the best idea. There is evidence that avoiding such foods, or delaying their introduction, doesn’t reduce the incidence of food allergies and has possibly increased them—particularly in high-risk infants.3
The difference between irritation reaction and oral allergy syndrome
Most moms love when their babies fall in love with fruits. But sometimes fresh fruits can put more on your little one’s face than a smile.
Take the strawberry, for example. Fresh strawberries will sometimes cause a child to develop a rash around her mouth. It’s not always pretty, but most of the time this rash is an “irritation” reaction and not due to oral allergy syndrome. It can happen with other fresh fruits and berries, too.
Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is a form of a contact allergic reaction that may occur when raw fruits or vegetables are eaten. Because the proteins found in some fruits and vegetables are similar to those found in pollen, children with hay fever caused by pollen may experience symptoms such as itchiness or swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, face, or throat when eating raw fruits and vegetables. OAS is considered to be a mild form of food allergy, but the foods that commonly cause OAS can be linked to more serious allergic reactions.
If you suspect oral allergy syndrome, contact your baby’s doctor.
Baby food allergy symptoms
Allergic reactions to foods may appear within a few minutes to several hours or even days after eating, and symptoms can take many forms. Typical food allergy symptoms in infants include:
Skin rash, flushed skin, or hives
Blood and/or mucus in the stool
Runny nose or sneezing
Swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
Excessive spit-up, vomiting, or diarrhea
If you see an unusual reaction in your baby when you add a new food, call your healthcare professional. If your baby is having difficulty breathing or loses consciousness, call 911 immediately.
How can you stay on the safe side when introducing a new food?
When you introduce a new food to your baby, easy does it. Feed new foods one at a time every 3 to 5 days and in isolation from other foods. This way, a reaction to a specific food can be easier to identify, and you can discuss it with your baby’s doctor.
Keeping a food journal of successfully introduced foods and ones that caused minor reactions can help you accurately communicate with your child’s pediatrician.
If there is a family history of food allergies, your baby’s doctor may advise you to avoid multigrain cereals and mixed dishes at first; they contain multiple ingredients that can make identifying allergens harder if they arise.
If you think your baby is allergic to a food you have fed him, contact your baby’s healthcare provider.
Peanut allergies in babies: avoidance or introduction?
Although many infants who are allergic to cow’s milk, wheat, soy, and eggs will eventually develop a tolerance, very few infants grow out of peanut allergies. One approach that may reduce the risk of your child developing a peanut allergy is to introduce peanut products around 4 to 6 months of age.
Seek guidance from your child’s healthcare provider to determine an appropriate plan for the introduction of peanut products.
Babies should not be given whole peanuts due to the risk of choking. Be sure to use infant-safe forms of peanut such as thinned peanut butter or peanut powder mixed in age-appropriate foods.
Peanut allergy tends to begin early in life and persist through adulthood. Allergic reactions to peanuts can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening. To avoid these reactions, people with peanut allergy must be vigilant about the foods they eat and the environments they enter.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Addendum Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy in the United States.