Becoming a parent means that you will start seeing things in a different way and that you’ll soon start measuring time with different milestones: baby’s first tooth, first word, first step, the first time you fed them solid food, the first time they slept through the night… There will be many firsts and each and every one will mark your life in a special way, and with each one there will be new reasons for concern. When it comes to babies and food allergy, it’s up to parents to identify definite signs of allergic reaction in babies and make changes to baby’s diet.
About baby food allergies
As with everything else concerning babies (and children in general), introducing solid foods should be slow and parent should be cautious. It would be best if you introduced one type of solid food at a time, not only to let your baby adjust to the taste and the texture but also to see if they show any signs of food allergies in the process.
Food allergies in babies are very common these days because a child’s immune system mistakes certain protein in a food as harmful, causing them to have an allergic reaction. The sad and scary thing is that a child can be allergic to pretty much anything, from water and gluten to sugar and peanuts, and it’s up to you to discover what they’re allergic to.
The most common food allergies
While it’s true that approximately 7% of babies, as well as young children, have food allergies, the good news is that they can outgrow some of them. There are foods that are notorious among parents because so many children have an allergic reaction to them. The most common allergens include milk and different milk products such as yogurt and cheese, but also eggs and peanuts.
Sometimes it’s other tree nuts too that can cause an allergic reaction such as walnuts, almonds, and cashews, but soy, wheat, and sesame are pretty high on the allergen list too. Parents should also be cautious when introducing seafood like fish, shellfish, and crustaceans.
Possible food allergy symptoms
Sometimes parents won’t even notice that their child is allergic because certain baby food allergy symptoms are mild, but there are some pretty severe ones too, and in any case, parents should be on their guard. It’s common for the child’s body to react mere minutes after they’ve been exposed to the food, and if you notice any swelling, redness, vomiting, coughing, and rash, it’s a tell-tale sign that your baby is allergic to a certain kind of food.
This is also the reason why you should introduce one type of solid food at a time – it will be easier to identify exactly what product is the cause of an allergic reaction. Some milder reactions include a stuffy or a runny nose accompanied with itchy, watery eyes and coughing.
Severe food allergy symptoms in babies
It can, however, also happen that the baby is severely allergic to a certain kind of food and the reactions can be pretty scary for both the child and the parents. The child’s mouth, tongue, and throat can swell and make it difficult for them to breathe and repetitive coughing and wheezing can make them agitated and nervous.
Hives that are rapidly spreading are also signs for concern as well as paleness or blue color of the lips and the face. Vomiting and diarrhea can sometimes occur hours the food has been taken, which makes it more difficult to spot, so parents should be alert even after seemingly ordinary meals, at least in the beginning.
Increased risk for babies
If you as parents haven’t had any allergies, the risk that our baby will have one is significantly lower. Sadly, if a parent or a sibling has been diagnosed with an allergy, a baby will be at an increased risk of developing a food allergy. It’s not just a food allergy that plays a role; the same goes for eczema, asthma as well as hay fever.
On the other hand, a child may have (or even develop) a food allergy even if there haven’t been any previous food allergy cases in the family. Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to reduce risks and help their children stay healthy.
How to reduce food allergy risks
Research shows that an early introduction of solid foods into the baby’s diet can help them avoid allergies. The longer you wait to introduce certain foods, the more likely it will be that your child will develop an allergy to it. This is why it’s a good idea to start introducing some sort of solid foods when the baby is six or seven months old. It also means that you shouldn’t shy away from introducing foods that contain allergens such as peanuts and eggs. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms are freer to eat any food they want, which wasn’t the case a decade or so ago.
Introducing peanuts and eggs
Seeing as these two foods are the most common allergens, you should consider introducing peanut and egg first and look for signs of an allergic reaction in babies before you proceed to give them other foods that might contain allergens. Hard boiled eggs and peanut butter are a good idea, but you have to prepare them in a way that it won’t be a choking hazard for your child. You could try adding peanut butter to applesauce or to infant cereals if you want, and you should blend a hard-boiled egg with a fork and add a few teaspoons of water to moisten the mixture if need be.
Foods to offer your baby
Offering your baby common food allergens is a good way to go, but you should make an effort to introduce more foods that are rich in iron at least two times a day. Well-cooked meat (poultry and fish) is a great source of iron just as cooked lentils, beans, and tofu. These foods are rich in iron but it’s good to remember that some common food allergens are great sources of iron as well, so don’t hesitate to bring in more kinds of butter, for example, those made of peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame seeds.
Starting baby on solid foods is a big step for both the baby and the parents, and while it can easily be the turning point for the better, food allergy babies can make this transition very complicated and difficult. Signs of allergic reaction in babies aren’t always easily noticeable, which is why parents should keep a close eye on their children the moment they start eating solid foods. Being cautious means that you as parents can identify and even prevent food allergies with babies.