Dealing with allergies of any kind is a big nuisance, but if your child is the one suffering it’s especially daunting. Food allergies can be a serious risk to your child. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your child’s risk of developing them in the first place; or if they have them to keep them as safe as possible.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, food allergies are most common in infants and toddlers and affect about 8 percent of children under 3 in the U.S. Common food allergies in children are cow’s milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, wheat, fish, shellfish and tree nuts. Luckily, many children outgrow these food allergies.
How you feed your child in his or her first years is very important. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says the following ways may reduce your child’s risk of developing food allergies.
- Exclusively breastfeed your child for his first four months to reduce your child’s risk of developing atopic dermatitis – a cow’s milk allergy. Soy based formula has not been proven to reduce food allergies.
- Do not introduce solid foods before 4-6 months of age. Waiting after 6 months also does not protect against developing food allergies and can have other adverse effects.
- Avoiding specific foods (fish, nuts, eggs) during pregnancy, breastfeeding or while your child is 4-6 months old does not appear to protect against developing food allergies.
Always pay attention to how your baby reacts to a food first introduced to them. If they begin to wheeze, develop a rash, vomit or get excessive diarrhea, call your doctor immediately.
If you’ve determined your child has a food allergy, it’s your responsibility to make sure they stay safe by avoiding eating what they can’t have. Always check labels to see what’s in your food. Educate other family members, teachers and care providers about what your child’s allergies are and how serious it is if they eat something they’re allergic to. Lastly, make sure your child knows his allergy so he can help take control and make responsible food choices.