The Most Common Infant Food Allergies Explained

infant Allergic Foods

So, you’re starting to introduce your infant to a variety of solid foods. Yet, you’ve heard from friends and family about their children’s various allergies to a range of foods. Now you want to know: What foods are most likely to cause allergies in babies? How do you avoid them? What happens if your infant experiences a food allergy?

It’s a good idea to introduce a baby to new foods one at a time in case of food allergies. If you introduce two or more foods at once and your infant has an allergic reaction, you won’t know which food caused it. Experts recommend waiting three to five days before adding another new item to your baby’s diet.

 The Top 8 Infant Food Allergies

Although there are more than 160 allergenic foods, the following eight foods cause problems 90% of the time.

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as walnuts or almonds)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Food allergy symptoms usually appear within a few minutes to a couple of hours. Symptoms include:

  • Hives or welts
  • Flushed skin or rash
  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Severe Versus Mild Allergy Symptoms

Severe allergic reactions can become fatal very quickly. If your baby is having trouble breathing, is wheezing, develops swelling on the face and/or lips, or develops severe vomiting or diarrhea after eating, immediately call 911.

If you see mild symptoms, such as a rash, contact your pediatrician. Once your baby’s specific allergies are identified, you’ll know which foods to eliminate from your baby’s diet. Your pediatrician can also give you a plan for dealing with accidental exposures.

Outgrowing Allergies

Many children outgrow allergies to soy and wheat by about age five or six. Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are the most likely to be life long. One recent study also suggested that fewer than half of children outgrow milk or egg allergies by age 8 to 10.

Distinguishing Between a Food Intolerance and a Food Allergy

Adverse reactions to foods are reported by about 20% of the U.S. population, although most of those reactions are really food intolerance rather than an allergy. Unlike an allergy, food intolerance doesn’t involve the immune system. Instead, it means that your child has trouble digesting a particular food. Symptoms include gas, bloating, or diarrhea.

Managing Allergies

The only way to treat a food allergy is to make sure your child does not eat the offending item. Unfortunately, this is trickier than it sounds. You’ll need to relentlessly read food labels, know which ingredients to avoid, and ask about ingredients in restaurant dishes. You’ll need to alert other parents of your child’s allergy to make sure snacks served don’t contain the allergenic foods. Likewise, you’ll need to let school teachers know about the allergy in case your child happens to share a snack with a friend, not knowing that it will cause an allergic reaction. And, of course, you’ll always need to be diligent about recognizing the early signs of an allergic reaction.

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Does your child suffer front infant food allergies?