Food allergies in babies

Some babies are allergic to certain foods. A food allergy happens when the body’s immune system thinks a food is harmful.

Usually, you’ll see a reaction within a few minutes or hours of eating. Allergic reactions can include:

  • Hives, swelling, redness and/or a rash
  • Stuffy or runny nose; itchy and watery eyes that your baby keeps trying to rub
  • Vomiting (that is usually forceful and repeated) and/or diarrhea

Very rarely, a baby will have a serious allergic reaction. Call 9-1-1 right away if you see:

  • Swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat
  • Pale or blue colour around the face or lips
  • Difficulty swallowing, hoarse voice/cry
  • Hives that spread quickly
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting, weakness or passing out

When starting to feed solid food to my baby, do I need to wait to offer foods like eggs or peanut containing foods?

  • No, you do not need to wait to introduce the common food allergens like eggs and peanut. This is no longer used due to a lack of current evidence that delaying specific foods will prevent food allergies. Health Canada suggests delaying introduction of some foods may increase risk of food allergy.

How should I introduce solid foods to my baby who is not showing signs of allergy?

Some babies are at greater risk of allergies. If one of the parents or a sibling has asthma, eczema, hay fever or a food allergy, it makes your baby more likely to develop a food allergy. You can learn more about food allergies to get prepared for possible challenges.

There is no need to introduce new foods one at a time except for the foods that commonly cause allergy. Introduce the common allergy foods one at a time from six months of age. Start these foods after you have offered several other foods such as iron rich meat, chicken, and iron fortified infant cereals. The common foods that may cause allergy are:

  • Milk and milk products
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Peanut
  • Tree Nuts
  • Soy
  • Seafood
  • Sesame

Tips:

  • Mark your calendar as you introduce these common foods that cause allergy. Or keep a food diary and write down the dates as you introduce these new foods.
  • Offer one of these new foods daily for a few days, watching for signs of reaction. Then try another common food allergen from the above list.
  • Continue to feed your baby foods that they have already tried and tolerated.
  • If baby reacts to a food, stop this food and continue offering other foods.
  • Make a note of this on your calendar or food diary.
  • Discuss with your family doctor.