Tips to introduce allergy foods in babies

–          Which foods are most likely to cause allergy in babies?

Any food may produce reactions, but the most frequent offenders are milk, eggs, wheat, citrus fruits, chocolate or cola, legumes, corn, fish, shellfish and some spices. The increasing incidence of food allergies due to use of soy products and food additives is of some concern.

–          How babies should be introduced to the foods that are likely to cause allergy? What is the right time to start them?

These practical suggestions are intended to help the mother give the baby a smooth adjustment to new foods.

  1. Hold the baby upright while feeding to facilitate swallowing and to enhance the baby’s feeling of security.
  2. Give very small amounts of any new food – teaspoonful’s or even less – at the beginning.
  3. Introduce only one new food each week. Allow the infant to become familiar with that before trying another. Watch for any allergic symptoms.
  4. Use foods of smooth rather than thin consistency at first. Gradually the consistency is made more solid as the infant learns how to use the tongue in propelling food to the back of the mouth.

–          What steps should be kept in mind to lessen the chances of allergies related to food in babies?

Especially for children, it is always necessary to consider the relative importance of the allergic disturbance in relation to the diet. It is better management, for example, to treat a mild case of eczema locally than to subject the child to the dangers of an inadequate diet with its far more serious consequences.

If a single food such as strawberries or grapefruit is implicated, the food is easily omitted from the diet. If the allergy involves more than one food, the initial diet contains only those foods that cause no reactions. Thus, if improvement has occurred on an elimination diet, simple, not mixed, foods are added, one at a time, to the allowed list of foods. Several days to a week must elapse between the additions of each new food. A given food should be tested on at least two, preferably three, occasions before it is permanently added to, or eliminated from, the diet. Because milk, eggs and wheat are frequent allergens, these foods are added last.

–          What symptoms should a parent look for if he is suspecting a food allergy in baby?

A special problem in infants and young children is milk sensitivity. From 1 to 3 percent of all children are sensitive to cow’s milk.  In infants with true milk allergy the response to the ingestion of milk is immediate and may lead to colic, spitting up of the feeding, irritability, diarrhoea, and respiratory disorders.

–          How long the food allergy will is likely to last?

Allergic reactions to foods may occur within a few minutes after eating the offending food, but rarely symptoms may also develop after hours, making the relationship with ingestion of food less clear. Symptoms generally disappear within hours but can last for days. The specific symptoms and severity of an allergic reaction are affected by the type and amount of the allergen consumed, by the form in which the food containing the allergen was eaten.

Heredity is important in the development of allergies. The incidence is increased in children whose parents have allergies, especially if both parents are affected. The child does not inherit a sensitivity to a specific substance or an identical manifestation of the allergy. The parent may be sensitive to wheat, for example, and the child to pollens.

About Neena Luthra

Neena Luthra M.Sc Food and Nutrition P.G Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics Dietician, Ex GMCH 32, Chandigarh A well-presented, self-motivated and best dietitian in Chandigarh with experience of assessing patients’ nutritional needs, then developing and implementing nutrition programs for them.