Babies and food allergies

5min read

If you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma or hay fever, you may need to be particularly careful when introducing solid foods, because babies are more likely to have an allergy if there is a history of these conditions in the family. A food allergy typically causes an immediate reaction after eating the food – usually seconds or minutes after eating it.

Signs and symptoms

Introduce the foods that are common food allergens (see list below), individually, and in the morning or early afternoon so that you can look out for any reaction to that food.

The signs to look out for include:

  • Any changes in breathing – breathing heavily or shortness of breath
  • Itchy skin/ hives or a rash
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Coughing or vomiting
  • Worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms

It is important to seek medical advice if your baby shows any of these signs.

If your baby displays any of these signs: a tightening of the throat, difficulty breathing, feeling faint or a pale and clammy appearance, and swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, or tongue – call 111, your GP or visit A & E.

Common food allergies

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Soya
  • Gluten products including wheat, rye, barley

Other foods that can cause a reaction

  • Citrus fruits (e.g. oranges), Seed fruits (strawberries) and Kiwi fruit
  • Mustard
  • Sulphites
  • Tomatoes

The effects of a food intolerance

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

The most common food intolerances are the same foods as for allergies, however intolerances do not involve the immune system.

Further resources

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us via our live chat service, email us at or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.

Other organisations that can help

Visit the NHS website for further advice and support on food allergies 

The NCT website has online advice about food intolerances in babies 

This advice was reviewed and updated by the Camden NHS Infant Feeding Community team.