While introducing solids is an exciting step in your baby’s development, there are good reasons to think sensibly before rushing into starting new foods. Baby food allergies can present in any child, so here are some things to think about.
Is my baby at risk of developing a food allergy?
An allergy is an overreaction of the body’s immune system to something it recognises as harmful. If you have a family history of food allergies, your baby has an increased chance of developing one, too. However, food allergies in babies are becoming more common in a general sense, so even without a genetic predisposition, it’s a good idea to learn a little bit about it before introducing new foods to your baby.
Are some foods more likely to cause an allergic reaction than others?
The most common food allergies to be on the lookout for are those related to nuts (like peanuts), sesame seeds, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. That being said, it’s possible that your baby may have a reaction to any number of everyday foods.
What does an allergic reaction look like?
Allergic reactions to foods are varied, but can include skin rashes, swelling of the lips or eyes, diarrhoea, vomiting or an upset stomach. Most serious is anaphylactic shock, the rapid onset of breathing difficulties, swelling of the throat and tongue, and floppiness. Immediately call an ambulance if your baby presents with these symptoms, and always seek professional medical advice about any food allergy concerns you might have.
Top tips for introducing solids
- Talk to your GP and ask for professional advice before starting solids
- Breastfeed before and during the time you are introducing solids to your baby
- Keep a food diary, and introduce one new food every three to five days, so you can more easily identify the culprit food should your baby have a bad reaction
- If your baby tests positive for an allergy, read up on allergy management, including shopping and reading food labels, and how to prepare family meals safely
- Remember that some babies will outgrow their food allergies – regular testing and your doctor’s advice is the best way to decide when you can re-introduce certain foods.