Baby Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

True food allergies are rare. What are often called allergies are actually reactions to foods. A true food allergy causes the immune system to defend itself against the food, treating the food as if it were a germ. The most common food reactions are diarrhea, vomiting, spitting up, and colic, followed by a skin rash, itching, runny nose or congestion, and wheezing.

Reactions to food occur most often before a child is 12 months old and often disappear by age 3. However, some reactions are lifelong. If your baby has a food allergy, talk with your pediatrician about it.

Food Allergy. A true food allergy causes the body to create antibodies every time the body is exposed to the food. Once the antibody builds up (which can take weeks, months, or years) exposure to that food can cause allergic symptoms. Allergic symptoms include runny nose, itchy eyes, diarrhea, and rash or more serious symptoms (anaphylaxis) such as swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. Symptoms can appear within a few minutes or up to a few hours. The only way to prevent allergic symptoms is to avoid that food.

Symptoms of Food Allergy
• Skin rash
• Vomiting most or all food after eating
• Loose, watery stools eight or more times a day
• Bloody diarrhea

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
• Swelling in the mouth, lips, and throat
• Difficulty breathing
• Collapse/shock
• Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 at once. This type of food allergy can kill.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Food Intolerance. Food intolerance is an abnormal, though nonallergenic, response to a food or food additive. The 2 most common food intolerances are gluten and lactose. Food intolerances are usually problems digesting certain foods. Food intolerances can be uncomfortable, but not life threatening.

More About Starting Your Baby on Solids Foods

When should I offer solid foods and what should those foods be?
Is Your Baby Ready to Try Solid Foods?
Changes in Bowel Movements
Feeding Himself
Shopping For Baby’s Food
Your Baby’s Menu
Food Supplements
Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
Preventing Poisoning and Choking

Feeding Tips for Month 11

Your baby may be trying to feed himself at some meals. Keep in mind, for him mealtime is more than nourishment — it’s also a chance for your baby to experience tastes, smells, colors and textures of food. So, let your baby experiment and prepare for quite a mess.
• Fill his cup with only small amounts of liquid or use a training cup with a lid, drinking spout, and handles.
• Let your baby hold a spoon so he can help while you feed him with another spoon
• Schedule his “self-feeding” adventures just before bath time
• Spread newspapers or a cloth under the highchair
• Use a large bib that can be wiped off, a non-slip dish with high, straight sides and a spoon with a short handle