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.
Recognizing Allergic Reactions
Typical Allergic Reactions
Usually, you’ll see a reaction within a few minutes or hours after 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
Serious Allergic Reactions
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
FAQ – Allergies
When starting to feed solid food to my baby, do I need to wait to offer foods like eggs or foods with peanuts?
- No, you do not need to wait to introduce common food allergens like eggs and peanut. We no longer do this due to a lack of current evidence that delaying specific foods will prevent food allergies. Health Canada suggests delaying introduction of some foods may actually increase risk of developing a food allergy.
How should I introduce solid foods to my baby who is not showing signs of allergy?
- Follow these guidelines – Baby’s First Foods and What to Feed Your Baby.
- Ask for a copy of “Reducing Risk of Food Allergy in Your Baby” at your local Community Health Centre.
Some babies are at greater risk of allergies. If a parent or sibling has asthma, eczema, hay fever, or a food allergy, your baby will be more likely to develop a food allergy. Learn more about food allergies from birth to two years to get prepared.
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
- Tree Nuts
Tips for Introducing New Foods
- 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 list above.
- 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.