Introducing food allergens to your baby's diet.
If your baby already has an allergy, such as a diagnosed food allergy or eczema, or if you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma or hay fever, you may need to be particularly careful when introducing foods. Talk to your GP or paediatrician before you start.
Common Food Allergens
Allergy to cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. About 2.5 percent of children under age 3 are allergic to milk, and most of these children develop milk allergy in their first year of life.
Egg allergy is a common food allergy in children, but most children who are allergic to egg eventually outgrow their allergy. Most allergenic egg proteins are found in the the egg white, but inviduals with egg allergy should avoid both egg whites and egg yolks.
Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts (cashews, Hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, etc.), which grow on trees. Peanuts grow underground and are part of the legumes family. Being allergic to peanuts does not mean you have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume.
Soybean allergy is one of the more common food allergies, especially in babies and children. Soybeans are a member of the legume family. Beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are also legumes. Being allergic to soy does not mean you have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume, including peanut.
Wheat allergy is most common in children and is usually outgrown before adulthood. Most children with a wheat allergy outgrow it before they are in their teens. An allergy to wheat is not the same as celiac disease.
Tree nut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children and adults. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, brazil nuts and pistachio.
Shellfish is one of the more common food allergies. This allergy usually is lifelong. About 60 percent of people with shellfish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as adults. There are two groups of shellfish: crustacea (such as shrimp, crab and lobster) and mollusks (such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops). Crustacea cause most shellfish reactions, and these tend to be severe. Finned fish and shellfish are not related. Being allergic to one does not always mean that you must avoid both.
Finned fish is one of the most common food allergies. This allergy usually is lifelong. About 40 percent of people with fish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as adults. Salmon, tuna and halibut are the most common types of fish people are allergic to. Finned fish and shellfish are not related. Being allergic to one does not always mean that you must avoid both.
Sesame is a flowering plant that produces edible seeds. It is a common ingredient in cuisines around the world, from baked goods to sushi. Several reports suggest this allergy has increased significantly worldwide over the past two decades.
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 to 12 months may increase the risk of developing an allergy to these foods.
- Make sure your baby is healthy and well before introducing allergens to their diet.
- In the morning start with a small amount of the new allergen, a quarter or half a teaspoon and wait a few days, monitor your child throughout the day for any reaction.
- Include the allergen food in the diet once or twice a week and monitor your child for reactions.
- When you have successfully incorporated the food allergen into your child's diet and your happy with their progress, you can introduce another type of food allergen.
When a child undergoes an allergic reaction, usually they’ll have intense crying episodes. This tends to happen even before the symptoms appear, so take note of any incessant crying. Whether the reaction is mild or severe, take your child to the nearest doctor as soon as you see it.
- Skin rashes
- Difficulty in breathing
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can occur. This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.
Do not be tempted to experiment by cutting out a major food, such as milk, because this could lead to your child not getting the nutrients they need.
Talk to your health visitor or GP, who may refer you to a registered dietitian.
Lots of children outgrow their allergies to milk or eggs, but a peanut allergy is generally lifelong.
If your child has a food allergy, read food labels carefully. Avoid foods if you're not sure whether they contain the food your child is allergic to.
Photo by Corleto Peanut butter on Unsplash