If your husband has an allergy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your child will too. However, there is often an increased predisposition to food allergies if there is a close family history of allergic conditions, including asthma, eczema and hay fever, so you should discuss your concerns with your GP or health visitor before giving your baby bread.
Wheat in particular is hard to digest and can be irritating to the gut, especially for children under two whose digestive tracts are not fully mature, so if you have concerns, you may want to avoid introducing it until 12 to 15 months. There are some wheat-free breads available, and also good alternatives to products traditionally made from wheat like couscous and pasta. These alternatives are made from rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and corn and will be found in the ‘free from section’ of larger supermarkets or in health food shops.
If and when you introduce wheat to your child, be on the lookout for symptoms of allergy. These could range from digestive problems like constipation, wind and diarrhoea to skin conditions such as eczema to serious anaphylactic reactions with swelling to the lips and face and breathing difficulties. If your child has an extreme reaction, call 999 immediately.
If you suspect your child has an allergy or intolerance to wheat or another food, an elimination diet – where you remove the potential trigger food from the diet for several weeks and then reintroduce it to see if the symptoms recur – can help you pinpoint the cause. However, you should always seek expert advice before starting an elimination diet, as removing a food group from your child’s diet could lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Answered by: Ceri Morgan and Ann Souter, nutritional therapists, www.recipeforhealth.co.uk