It is exciting when it is time to start feeding your baby solid foods. But it is also a time of worry. Will my child be allergic to what I introduce him to? How do I know if my baby is allergic to food items? You have an excellent chance of feeding your child food that will not bother him one bit. But just in case, here are the things to watch for.
Signs To Watch For
Food allergy symptoms will usually appear quickly after the food is eaten, within a few minutes to a couple of hours. Here are some summary notes:
- Early problems can be a flushed skin, rash or hives.
- You could also notice swelling of face, tongue, or lips.
- As more food is absorbed your baby could begin to have coughing or wheezing.
- He could vomit up what was eaten, which could actually start reversing any symptoms.
- Diarrhea could start a little later.
- Vomiting or diarrhea can also be a more chronic sign of a food allergy or food intolerance.
Even if your baby has never been fed formula and has always been breastfed she could start showing signs of food allergy. Symptoms can vary but include diarrhea, vomiting, colic, constipation, and poor growth. You probably wonder how this could possibly happen. Proteins in the foods that you eat can be found in your milk within three to six hours after eating. You will need to eliminate these foods from your diet in order to clear the proteins from your breast milk. They will usually clear in about one to two weeks. Slowly your baby’s symptoms should improve.
If your baby is excessively fussy when drinking cow’s milk, they could have a cow’s milk allergy. They could show signs of an upset stomach or diarrhea. Remember that most commercial baby formulas are made using cow’s milk. Many babies who are allergic to cow’s milk will also react to goat’s and sheep’s milk, and you will also have to watch for allergies to other foods. About two to three percent of babies will have a milk allergy. Luckily, they tend to outgrow the allergy.
Infants with eczema, a chronic itchy skin rash, can also have food allergies and food intolerances. In babies it is most prominent on the cheeks, forehead, and scalp and most likely to be more red and weepy. It may affect almost any area of the body, but usually spares the diaper area. At 6 to 12 months of age it most often involves “crawling surfaces” such as knees and elbows and becomes drier. The skin can become thickened and appear white.
Egg allergies can occur in babies. Symptoms will usually include hives, eczema, flushing or swelling of lips and mouth. They could also have a runny nose or wheezing and vomiting or diarrhea. This is another allergy that a child has a good chance of outgrowing.
What Should You Do If Symptoms Occur?
If your baby develops difficulty breathing, significant swelling around the lips and mouth, or loss of consciousness you should hurry to get medical help. Call emergency help, do not attempt to drive your baby to care. Rarely a child can have an anaphylactic reaction to a food, which can be a very big problem if not taken care of.
If the symptoms are milder then contact your pediatrician. They may wish to make an appointment for allergy testing in order to better determine what your baby is allergic to. Once you determine this you will know how best to deal with the problem.
There can be a family food allergy connection. If there are significant food allergies in family members you should talk with your pediatrician about timing of when to introduce specific food such as dairy, eggs, fish, and nuts. Your baby can’t really inherit a specific allergy, but they can inherit the tendency to develop allergies. It is estimated that if you have pet, environmental or food allergies, your child has a 50 percent chance of developing an allergy, though it may not be the same one as yours. That probability jumps to about 75 percent if both parents have allergies.
Food intolerance symptoms are milder reactions to food. They tend to cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea because of an inability to easily digest the food. Lactose intolerance is one of the most common intolerances and can show up in babies because of milk products in foods, including formula.
About 90 percent of food allergies in babies are caused by eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, soy, tree nuts (like walnuts or cashews), fish, and shellfish (like shrimp or crab). Working with your pediatrician or an allergy specialist you will be able to determine what your baby is allergic to and avoid the foods. If you are breast feeding you will need to avoid the foods, as well as your baby. If you are beyond breast feeding you will need to help your child learn to avoid the foods they are allergic to so they can avoid reactions.