Signs of Allergies in Babies and Toddlers
Food allergies can be a big concern for parents like you. You’re trying to feed your baby or toddler a healthy and balanced diet, but worried about causing an allergic reaction. Knowing the most typical food allergies and the signs of allergies in babies and toddlers can help you spot potential allergic reactions in your child. Here’s what you need to know.
Common Food Allergies in Early Development
While babies and toddlers can develop allergies to many kinds of foods, there are eight foods that cause 90% of allergic reactions in children. The most common food allergies in children are to these foods:
- Tree nuts (such as cashews and walnuts)
Food allergies are fairly common - almost 5% of children under the age of five have them. So if your child has a food allergy, you’re not alone.
Responses to allergens vary - some children might have mild reactions to a food, while others have a severe reaction. Peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish tend to cause the most severe food allergy symptoms in children.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has Food Allergies?
If your baby has an allergic reaction to a food, you’ll see the reaction happen within minutes to up to an hour after they eat the food. The most common food allergy symptoms in children are:
- Itching or swelling of the lips, mouth, or tongue
- Itching or tightness in the throat
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
But each child might experience allergy symptoms differently. If you suspect a food allergy is a cause of a reaction or discomfort in your child, talk to your pediatrician. They will diagnose any existing allergies and help you develop a plan to keep your child safe and healthy.
It’s also good to know that a food intolerance is not an allergy - a food allergy is the body’s immune system reacting to a food, while an intolerance is a reaction of the digestive system. Intolerances can have some of the same symptoms of food allergies, but they’re less severe. For example, lactose intolerance means your child’s body lacks the enzyme that helps them digest dairy products, but isn’t considered an allergy.
Why Food Allergies Occur
What exactly happens when your child develops a food allergy? Knowing what’s going on in their body can be comforting as well as informative.
Food allergies happen in babies and toddlers because after being exposed to a food once, whether eating on their own or through breast milk, the second exposure causes a reaction. Their bodies produce IgE antibodies which react with the food, and histamines are released, causing symptoms.
Even a very small amount of the food can cause a reaction if your child is highly allergic, so being cautious is important.
What to Do If Your Little One Has Allergies
Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent or cure food allergies. The only way to prevent the symptoms of a food allergy is to avoid those foods (easier said than done for busy parents!). If your baby is breastfeeding and your pediatrician confirms they may have food allergies, you will need to avoid those foods in your diet as well so your baby isn’t getting them through your milk.
If your child has had a severe reaction to a food, your pediatrician might provide an emergency kit with an EpiPen in case of another severe attack. And your doctor might also recommend giving your child additional vitamin or mineral supplements if your child can’t eat certain foods.
While food allergy symptoms can’t be prevented, they can often be delayed in babies. If it’s possible to breastfeed your child for the first six months, that can help. Also, check with your pediatrician before giving your child solid foods, cow milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, and fish.
Take comfort in the fact that most children outgrow their allergies, particularly to milk and eggs. Your doctor may recommend giving your child the food again after three to six months to see if they’ve outgrown the reaction. By the age of three or four, many children have outgrown their allergies - which is a relief to worried parents.
We know food allergies can be challenging
Feeding a child who has one or more food allergies can be very challenging, but Tiny Organics is here to help. Our ready-to-eat meals are free of the eight most common allergens but packed with fruits, veggies and whole grains, making mealtimes easier and less stressful. Build your own meal plan today!