Babies and food allergies

Baby food allergies

Babies are more likely to have an allergy if there is a history of asthma, eczema or hayfever in the family. A food allergy typically causes an immediate reaction after eating the food – usually seconds or minutes after eating it. Typical symptoms are:

  • Itchy skin (hives or rash)
  • Itchy and/or swelling tongue and lips
  • Sneezing
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting

More severe allergy symptoms are the same as above and/or:

  • Tightening of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling faint
  • Pale and clammy appearance

The most common food allergies are:

  • Citrus fruits (e.g. oranges), Seed fruits (strawberries) and Kiwi fruit
  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Soya
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat

A food intolerance has a more delayed reaction, which may not manifest until hours or days after eating. The most common effects of food intolerances are:

  • Stomach pain or colic
  • Bloating
  • Wind
  • Diarrhoea and occasionally vomiting

The most common food intolerances are the same as for allergies. Introduce these foods after your child has reached six months, and try them one at a time monitoring your child very closely to check for a reaction of any sort, in which case you should consult your GP or if it’s a very severe reaction (such as difficulty breathing or any swelling occurs) take your baby to the local Accident and Emergency department.

Further support

For more advice on baby food allergies visit the NHS website.

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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