Feeding Baby: How to Avoid Food Allergies
Severe Food Allergy Symptoms: When to Call 911
Severe allergic reactions can be fatal very quickly. If your baby is having trouble breathing/wheezing, has swelling on her face/lips, or develops severe vomiting or diarrhea after eating, immediately call 911. You can inform your pediatrician at a later time.
Dealing With Mild Food Allergies in Baby
If you see mild symptoms, such as hives or a rash, contact your pediatrician for further evaluation. Once your baby’s specific allergies are identified, the doctor will give you an action plan for managing the allergies (usually, eliminating the food from your baby’s diet) and dealing with accidental exposures.
Remember, just because a baby’s initial allergic reaction to a new food may be mild, it may get worse upon following exposures. Talk to your pediatrician about any food allergy symptoms in your baby.
Some allergies go away with time. Egg and milk allergies often go away as children get older, but peanut, tree nut, and shellfish allergies tend to persist.
The Family Food-Allergy Connection
Until very recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents wait until age 1 to introduce dairy products, age 2 to introduce eggs, and age 3 to add peanuts, tree nuts, and fish. In early 2008, however, the AAP amended these recommendations, which were based on expert opinion rather than specific evidence.
The new AAP guidelines state that unless there is a significant history of food allergies in a child’s family, there’s no evidence that waiting until after a year to introduce these foods reduces his/her risk of developing allergies. In fact, there is some evidence that early introduction of some of these foods, such as peanuts, may make your child less likely to become allergic. Ask your pediatrician for guidance.
Protecting Baby Against Food Allergies: Easy Does It
Many pediatricians still recommend waiting until your baby is a bit older -- 9 or 10 months -- before offering the 8 allergenic foods. Even if there’s no added risk of causing an allergy, they note that an allergic reaction may be easier to manage in an older baby. Some pediatricians, concerned about the particular severity of allergic reactions to peanuts and shellfish, still suggest staying away from them until your child is at least 3 years old.
Whole cow's milk should not be given to babies younger than 1 year of age, because the proteins in whole milk can irritate the stomach. However, yogurt and soft cheeses are fine, because the proteins in these dairy products are broken down and less likely to cause tummy trouble. You should also wait until at least age 1 (some experts say age 2) to introduce honey, which can cause a potentially serious disease called infant botulism.