Food allergies

Useful information on baby food allergies and intolerance, with advice on symptoms and testing for allergies such as wheat, milk and egg.
What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an allergic reaction to a specific food. Your baby may also experience a food intolerance, this is not an allergic reaction, but an unpleasant reaction to eating a particular food.

Signs and symptoms of food allergies or intolerance
  • Mouth or face swelling
  • Itchy mouth and throat
  • Rash or cramping
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Runny nose (with clear secretions), watery eyes, seasonal sneezing and wheezing
  • Chronic cough
  • Circles under eyes
  • Frequent colds and/or ear infections
  • Frequent skin rashes, such as eczema or hives
  • Night coughs and a stuffy nose in the morning
  • Diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating
  • Lots of intestinal gas
  • Fatigue, behaviour problems, headaches
The above symptoms may be caused by other causes than food allergies and should be referred to a doctor.

A reaction to a food allergy will look different in each child. In an extreme case a child may develop a life threatening condition called anaphylactic shock. This will require immediate medical attention.

The most common causes of food allergies
  • Cow's milk
  • Soya
  • Egg whites
  • Wheat
  • Shellfish
  • Nuts (particularly peanuts)

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Yeast
  • Berries
  • Chocolate
There are two things you can do as a parent to reduce your child's susceptibility to food allergies and reduce the severity of food allergies:
  • Wait until your baby is 6 months old to introduce solids.

  • Wait 4 days between introducing a new food to your baby.
When you begin to wean your baby you need to be absolutely sure that the foods you are introducing her to are not causing a reaction. It can take three or four days for a reaction to show up. If you feed your baby one food at a time and wait four days before introducing a new food, you will instantly know the food your baby is having a reaction to and can stop immediately.

If you feed your baby several new foods at a time and she develops a reaction to one of them, you will not know which food she may be allergic to. You will have to experiment to get the reaction again which is not ideal if the reactions were severe.

Be particularly careful when introducing seafood, peanuts and honey. Peanuts and seafood are likely to cause the most severe reactions, whilst honey is dangerous for children under the age of one because of the danger of botulism poisoning. Before the age of twelve months, a child's intestinal track is not mature enough to inhibit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which is often found in honey.

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Hello dear ones - My 8 month old half a month ago showed great interest in having solids. One afternoon she finished her entire bowl (about 200ml of green vegetables and rice cereal mixed in the blender). After that, she gradully lost her appetite for solids. For the past week, she barely wanted any solids, but I still prepared them and managed to feed her a little every lunch and dinner time.

Today, during lunch time I fed her some egg yellows mixed with some pea plant leaves in the afternoon. I had used the blender.

We also let her eat one piece of cooked rice, as well as a yellow flower petal from a plant used to make vegetable oil (really small, less than half a centimeter diameter). Perhaps these are both of small significance and should be ruled out as causes for what happened 3 to 4 hours later. We think it was the eggs that caused her to vomit so much about 2-4 hours later about 4 times. I fed her a bit more breastmilk between occurrences, hoping to alleviate possible dehydration, also because my husband said that the vomit was not bad in itself as it would remove any food the baby's stomach couldn't handle.

I am really concerned, because she never had this kind of vomit. Does this kind of situation mean that she's allegic to eggs? She likes pea plant leaves and she showed no allegies towards it before. She vomitted one time three days ago, we think because I added some dried little shrimps to the mixture (green vegetables) we prepared in the blender! As such, we're not sure if today's vomit is connected with that event three days ago, or if these vomits have something to do with the large amount of solids she had half a month ago. Neither daddy nor mommy are allegic to eggs or shrimp.

FYI, our baby is half Chinese, half Caucasian.
by AmyBlois 20th Jun 2013, 3:41pm
Hi folks - my baby boy had very similar reactions when i decided to put him onto formula milk at around 5 months. He took severe reaction which I was told by paramedica as unlikely to be an allergic one, however as always the mother's instinct was right and it turns out he has a milk/dairy allergy. He was given prescribed milk from dietician - incidentally she seemed to think her work was then done - however my normally very smiley happy baby got really awful eczema across his entire body, prodominantey on his face, poor lamb. With little support from anyone I weaned him onto solids soon after and using common sense, intuition and a lot of trial and error i have come to realise that bb's eczema and abdominal discomfort is due to what he is eating and i believe he is also allergic to wheat and gluten - it has certainly made a huge difference to his skin/sleep and temperament since cutting these foods out. My advice is see a (competant) dietician!!
I did attempt to continue breastfeeding and cut dairy from my diet but i felt i wasn't allowing my baby the right amount of goodness and with the formula milk i am mpre confident that he's rreceing the vitamins and nutrients he needs. Different things of course for different families but this is working so far for us!!
by BurkeyBurke 13th Jul 2011, 10:03am
Hi Tigga,

The first question is this - and it may a stupid one, but I need to rule it out - are you feeding her the right amount - i.e not too much? If your answer is "of course I'm not feeding her too much, silly!" then read on...

My second child has severe allergies to dairy products, eggs and nuts. I realised this when he was just 3 months of age. He was formula and breastfed. The hospital gave him formula from birth as he wouldn't take the breast at first - but I started expressing and eventually got him onto breast milk in a bottle, then eventually onto the breast. At 3 months he was being solely breastfed, but I noticed if I ate dairy or eggs he would get terrible wind, and/or throw up, and come out in a rash. The hospitals won't check for food allergies until babies are at least 6 months, so we didnt find out 'formally' until then that he was allergic to those things.

Is it too late to get her onto breast milk again? That way, you can do what I did, and cut dairy and eggs from my diet so that he didn't have the reactions.

You can also get a specialist formula prescribed for you that is dairy-free. But I'm guessing they will be reluctant to prescribe it if your baby has not been diagnosed as having food allergies. It could be worth asking though, just to try it. If it works, then you could be onto something! If your baby is slow to put on weight then that could be the excuse you need to pursue an alternative formula.

Good luck!

G x
by MooseyMoose 1st Nov 2010, 9:08am
My baby is 3 months,and I too breastfed and formula fed. She vomits every time after feeding,even if she has burped well..she also has had thrush for 3 weeks now. Nyastatin isn't clearing it up. She moves her tongue in her mouth,like she's itching it,she also pulls both legs up and lets them drop as if she has cramps. My doctor is an elderly man,and isn't seeming too concern. I have tried 5-6 different formulas,even soya. She doesn't vomit the first day of a new formula,but it starts all over again on the second day,and it isn't just "spit up",it's full blown vomit or she does it a large amount every few minutes. Can anyone relate to this and maybe give me some advice as to why this poor lil baby could be going through this??please e-mail
by tigga2008 29th Oct 2009, 6:04pm
Hi my baby daughter of just over 5 month has had a cough for the last 8 weeks. The gp and a paeditrician has checked her over and said they do not know what is causing this. My daughter is mixed fed , formula and breast milk. Could the mixture of the two upset her or cause allergies. She is also a little susceptible to getting a little rash on her face from time to time. I must admit i am getting a little down about it as it is so awful to see such a little baby have a coughing fit where she can turn bright red. It would be great for a little advice. Ljw123
by LJW123 10th Jun 2009, 9:54am
i'm a mother of 15 monthd old baby girl.from past few weeks i'm suspecting that she is having food allergy problem.because from past few months she had diarrhoea offten & rash on her skin.from doctor's advice i stopped giving her wheat related food, citrus fruit & egg. but still now she is having severe rash on her skin.though i've also skin allergy & asthma problem from my childhood..though in our coutry food allergy test is not available..i'm very worried about my child don't know what should i do........
by rudy 17th Feb 2009, 9:40am
I am just staring to wean my 5 month old twin boys - am introducing a new food every 3 days and have so far sucessfully fed them baby rice, pear, apple and carrot. today I tried sweet potato - 1 loved it the other took 1 mouthful and didnt really want any more. I persevered but should have listened! he projectile vomited 2x during the feed and since then has vomited 4 times in the last hour. he seems fine now and has had his lunch time nap.....has anyone else had a reactiion to this food - I was told babies normally love it!
by Eled 19th Jan 2009, 9:48am
what vitamins can i give to my baby who is 10 mths old as she has alleries to dairy and fish peanuts
by bhav25 2nd Jun 2008, 8:44am