Food Allergies In Babies

September 14, 2023

Food Allergies In Babies

Weaning your baby onto solid foods can be an exciting time for parents, but it can also come with some worries. You may have questions about what you can feed your baby at this stage and the risks of certain foods leading to an allergic reaction.

It’s estimated that between 5% and 8% of children and babies have a food allergy – so you must know what to look out for when weaning.

Discover more about what causes food allergies in babies, the signs of food allergies and when to see a doctor.

a close up photo of a father feeding his baby with a spoon. The baby has their mouth wide open ready to eat the food on the spoon.

What causes food allergies in babies?

The cause of food allergies in babies isn’t entirely understood, but an early sign that a baby may be prone to allergies is eczema. One study showed that around 40% of children with eczema also have food allergies.

A family history of food allergies can also increase the risk of a baby developing food allergies, so care needs to be taken when introducing new foods.

Signs of food allergies in babies

Signs of a food allergy in a baby will typically appear quite quickly, within a few minutes of exposure.

Symptoms of food allergies in babies can include but are not limited to:

  • Tingling of the mouth – they may not be able to voice this, but they may pull at their mouth
  • Swelling of the tongue, throat, lips, face and other parts of the body
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A rash and red, itchy skin
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Stomach cramps – again, they might not be able to voice this but may cry or hold their stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in the nappy (diaper) – this can be a sign of a possible milk allergy as the colon has become irritated
  • Dizziness

In some cases, anaphylaxis may occur. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction and can be very serious. Signs of anaphylaxis include trouble breathing, swollen tongue, flushed skin and wheezes. Anaphylaxis is an emergency and needs urgent medical care.

Common food allergies in babies

There are more than 160 foods that a baby can be allergic to, but there are some foods that more commonly cause allergies.

The most common foods that can trigger an allergic reaction in babies are:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Fish
  • Shellfish – do not serve them to babies raw, they need to be thoroughly cooked through
  • Soya
  • Gluten – this includes foods that have wheat, barley or rye in them

These foods can be introduced from around six months when you are trying solid foods with your baby.

Evidence has shown that the deliberate exclusion of peanut and hen’s eggs beyond 6-12 months may increase the risk of developing an allergy to these foods.

How to introduce allergy foods to babies

Introducing potential food allergens to your baby may feel nerve-wracking for parents. However, there are ways to introduce these foods that minimise the risk of a reaction.

Here are some top tips to help you introduce new foods to your baby.

Start with very small amounts

The best thing to do is to start with tiny amounts of foods that may trigger allergic reactions. For example, try adding ⅛ of a teaspoon of finely ground nuts to some porridge for them to try.

If they don’t react to the food, you can slowly increase the amounts of the food over time. When you’ve ruled out an allergy to this food, feed it to your baby regularly.

Feed early

Food allergens often cause symptoms within minutes, but some reactions may take up to a few hours to show. Introducing a possible allergen earlier in the day can allow you to observe your baby throughout the day to see if any symptoms appear.

One allergen at a time

Aim to only introduce one new food at a time so that if a reaction does occur, you’ll know which food caused it. You can try a variety of new foods throughout the week but avoid introducing common food allergens simultaneously.

Continued exposure to allergens

Once you’ve introduced the food allergen to your baby and they’ve safely ingested it with no reaction, keep feeding it to them at regular intervals. Being consistent with these foods is crucial; it’s recommended that you include common food allergens 2-3 times a week to help keep their tolerance to them up.

Do babies outgrow food allergies?

Some children may outgrow food allergies that they have as babies, but this may depend on the food they’re allergic to and how severe the allergy is.

According to studies, around 60% – 80% of babies that have allergies to milk or eggs can eat these foods by the time they turn 16. It’s also been found that eating egg or milk in a baked form without a reaction bodes well for them being able to tolerate them on their own in the future.

However, food allergies such as tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish tend to last a lifetime. This is because they tend to produce the most severe allergic reactions in babies. Only around 20% of infants will outgrow a peanut allergy in the future.

It’s worth noting that severe allergic reactions to any type of food allergen are much less likely to disappear as a child gets older.

When to see a doctor

If you feed your baby a potential food allergen and they display signs of a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.

Talk to your health visitor or GP for further advice if you notice a mild reaction.


If you’re concerned about introducing potential allergens or want to have your baby checked for allergies, book a blood test with our team of specialists at Childhealthy.

We also offer a full nutritional assessment for infants that can help you ensure you’re meeting your baby’s nutritional needs and avoiding their allergens at the same time.




Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child please contact your doctor for advice.


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