When it’s time to wean your baby onto solid food, there is certainly no shortage of recipes, advice forums and information out there to help you make it as easy as possible. But what of the baby with allergies? Perhaps you already know your baby has a cow’s milk allergy, or perhaps allergies are only just starting to crop up now that you’re introducing new foods? Either way, it can be daunting. Here are three tips to help when weaning a baby with food allergies.
Food allergies are more likely to occur in babies with a family history of allergies. So if there’s eczema, asthma or hay fever present in other family members, or if there are food allergies you may already be aware of either an existing allergy or the potential for one to develop. You should still wait to wean your baby at six months of age, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Delaying weaning is not usually recommended, even in babies with allergies.
Hopefully, if your baby does have an allergy, you’ve already spoken to your doctor about it and are aware of foods to avoid. If in doubt, do seek medical advice.
Start with ‘safe’ foods
There are some foods that are least likely to cause a reaction for your baby, so always start with these first. Such foods are:
- Root vegetables such as carrot, swede, sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash
- Fruits such as apple, pear, banana, plum, peach, apricot, avocado
- Spinach, broccoli, green beans, courgette, cauliflower
- Potato, sweet potato
The reason you should start with safe foods is obvious; low allergenic foods will help your baby to learn new tastes and textures without any risk to health, and will encourage a more positive attitude towards food in general.
Watch your baby for signs
Always introduce one new food at a time, so that you can document any reactions that may occur. It’s also good idea to introduce new foods in the morning, so that is a certain food type does cause discomfort or tummy upset, hopefully this will pass before bedtime and therefore not disrupt sleep. Leave a gap of at least three days between trying new foods to thoroughly rule out reactions.
Be careful with high allergen foods
So there are some foods that are most likely to cause a reaction in babies with allergies, but it’s not recommended to avoid them completely when you wean. Please speak k to you doctor about introducing these foods.
- milk, eggs, wheat, gluten, soya
- fish, shellfish
- peanuts, tree nuts, seeds
Food allergies generally appear in families with a history of allergies, or in babies who have developed eczema in the first few months. Common foods that trigger eczema are cow’s milk, egg and peanuts. If your baby has eczema you should speak to your doctor about introducing these foods. And remember that most children grow out of milk and egg allergies; peanut allergies tend to be lifelong.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your baby is reacting a food you’ve introduced, look for the following signs:
- breathing difficulties (runny/ congested nose)
- wheezing and coughing
Some babies may have a delayed reaction, occurring up to two hours after eating. These reactions are often harder to spot and the symptoms are mainly gastrointestinal- loose stools, mucus or blood in stools, constipation, vomiting, gastro-oesophageal reflux, nappy rash, poor weight gain and eczema.
If your baby has a reaction to any food, speak to your doctor.