First Time Parents Guide: Food Allergies
A variety of delicious, nutritious, natural foods is one of the great joys of a life well lived. Introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet is an exciting process for both of you. That said, you may be concerned about your child developing food allergies, or your baby’s food allergies revealing themselves as you introduce new foods.
The truth is that, for some of us, food allergies are simply an unpleasant fact of life. If you are slow and observant in the process of introducing new foods into your child’s diet, you can minimize the danger and suffering associated with food allergies.
What are the most common food allergies?
The foods most commonly associated with food allergies include milk (from a cow), peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. If you yourself are allergic to a particular food, there’s a higher-than-usual chance your baby will be, as well.
Does my baby have food allergies?
The best way to know if your baby has food allergies is to introduce new solid foods into your baby’s diet slowly, one at a time.
On one hand, exposing your baby to new foods can help strengthen his or her developing immune system, so you don’t want to be too cautious. On the other hand, if you introduce a lot of new foods at once and your little one has a negative reaction, it will be harder to determine which food was the cause.
So, as in all things related to parenting, be deliberate, mindful, and observant.
Common mild food allergy symptoms include hives or welts, skin flushing, rashes, swelling (of the face, tongue, or lips), diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, coughing or wheezing, etc. If your baby exhibits any of these after eating a new food, it could be a sign of a food allergy.
Help! I think my child has a food allergy!
If you think your child may be allergic to a new food you’ve recently introduced, talk to your child’s physician and get a referral to an allergist. A skin or blood test can determine whether your child has a food allergy and what to do about it. Some food allergies go away on their own, with time, while others may require dietary restrictions.
If your child has an extremely negative reaction to a new food, it’s okay to call your doctor or, in emergency situations, 911.
As long as you introduce your child to new situations gradually, and pay close attention to the results, your natural instincts as a parent will serve you and your little one well.
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