Spotlight on food allergy

All you need to know about baby food allergies


Q. I’m about to start weaning my baby. Is there anything I can do to prevent my baby having an allergic reaction?
A. Studies have shown that introducing solid foods before your baby is 4 months old can increase the risk of allergies. Babies’ digestive systems can take up to six months to be able to process solid food, so wait until your little one is ready. Try solids if your baby is able to sit upright and hold her head, pick up food, put it in her mouth and swallow. Lindsey McManus of Allergy UK advises, ‘Avoid giving your baby foods that are highly allergenic, such as citrus fruit, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers, before 6 months. You should also avoid gluten-based foods, fish, soft cheeses or eggs initially as they’re most likely to cause food allergies.’


Instead, ‘Make purees of a single fruit or vegetable and introduce them one at a time, then repeat over two or three days, looking for any signs of adverse reactions to food,’ says Kirsten Davies from nutritional advisor, The Food Remedy. ‘Most foods should have been introduced by the age of 1,’ says Lindsey. ‘But if there is a family history of allergies, parents are sometimes advised to avoid exposing their child to peanuts until the age of 3.’ If you’re worried, ask your GP for advice.

Q. How can I tell if she’s allergic to something she’s eating?
A. ‘Some babies may get a reaction, such as a rash or hives, some may have projectile vomiting or swelling of the lips, tongue and face,’ says Lindsey. Kirsten says other signs are ‘an itchy mouth, diarrhoea or difficulty breathing.’

Q. What is my baby most likely to be allergic to?
A. ‘80% of allergic reactions are down to eight foods,’ says Kirsten. ‘Peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, peacans), fish, shellfish, eggs (often the egg white part), cow’s milk, soya and wheat.’ Allergy to cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in the UK.


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