Food Allergies In Babies and Young Childrenby Laura Driver
For the first six months of life breastfeeding or infant formula is recommended.
If your baby is not being breastfed and has a cow’s milk allergy your GP will talk to you about what kind of formula to give.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women don’t need to avoid foods that can trigger an allergic reaction (including peanuts) unless you are allergic to them.
If your baby already has an allergy such as diagnosed food allergy or eczema, or if there is a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma or hay-fever, you may need to be particularly careful when introducing foods. Your GP or health visitor can advise on this.
When you start introducing solid food to your baby introduce the foods that could trigger an allergy one at a time in very small amounts so that you can spot any reaction.
These foods are;
- Cows’ milk
- Foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley and rye
- Nuts and peanuts
These foods can be introduced from around 6 months as part of your baby’s diet, just like any other foods.
Once introduced and if tolerated these foods should become part of your baby’s usual diet to minimise the risk of allergy.
Evidence has shown that delaying the introduction of peanut and hen’s eggs beyond 6-12 months may increase the risk of developing an allergy to these foods.
Lots of children outgrow their allergies to milk and eggs, but peanut allergies are generally lifelong.
An allergic reaction can consist of one or more of the following;
- Diarrhoea or vomiting
- A cough
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Itchy throat and tongue
- Itchy skin or rash
- Swollen lips and throat
- Runny or blocked nose
- Sore, red and itchy eyes
In a few cases, foods can cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) that can be life-threatening. Get medical advice if you think your child is having an allergic reaction to a particular food