Baby Food Allergies

Exploring new foods with your baby can be fun, but also a little nerve-wracking. Her pure body is just learning how to digest different foods and some may not agree with her. Baby food allergies can range in severity and may be present from birth. Experts believe up to 6% of babies have true food allergies, while others may have intolerances. And in some cases, babies can grow out of their food allergies and intolerances over time.

When Do Baby Food Allergies Appear

Starting solids is not the first time you may face the risk of baby food allergies. If your breastfed baby has a strong food allergy from birth, she may react to a food that you have eaten and passed along through your breast milk. Once you and your pediatrician determine what is causing your baby’s allergic reaction, it will be necessary for you to stop eating that food for awhile during breastfeeding. You may be able to slowly re-incorporate the food back into your diet over time with the guidance of your pediatrician.

Babies who take both breast milk and formula and have milk allergies may need to go on sensitive formula or be exclusively breastfed since cow’s milk is the main ingredient in standard formula.  Keep in mind, a milk allergy is different than being lactose intolerant, which is an inability to digest lactose. Lactose intolerance is very rare in babies.

Baby Food AllergiesMost Common Baby Food Allergies

Besides milk, the most common baby food allergies are: nuts, fish and shellfish, eggs, wheat and soy.

Symptoms of Baby Food Allergies

Symptoms of baby food allergies usually appear shortly after your baby has been breastfed or eats the food in question. The immune system reacts by releasing antibodies to combat what it deems to be a foreign attack, i.e. the food. Symptoms can vary widely but may include skin rash, itchiness or hives; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or blood stools; respiratory issues such as not breathing, wheezing or sneezing; and dizziness or fainting. Babies who are fussy after eating or who are not gaining weight properly may also have food allergies. While gassiness, bloating and an otherwise upset stomach are somewhat common among babies, this is not a sign of a food allergy.

Diagnosing Baby Food Allergies

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing your baby’s food allergies while you are breastfeeding since you probably eat a diverse diet. Eliminating food groups from your diet one at a time may help you determine the culprit.

As your baby start solids, it is important to wait a few days between introducing new foods to see how your baby will react. If your baby starts to show signs of a food allergy once she has a range of foods under her belt, most doctors recommend eliminating foods to see what makes a difference. An allergist can also perform a skin test to see which foods cause your baby’s skin to react.

Increased Risk for Baby Food Allergy

Allergies are still a mystery but researchers do know that having parents or a sibling with food allergies puts a baby at increased risk of developing them herself. That’s why it is important to disclose familial food allergies to your pediatrician.

Baby food allergies can be quite serious so pay close attention to signs of a food allergy during breastfeeding and as your baby enters the wonderful world of solid food.

Sources: Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Parents Magazine and WebMD