Signs of food allergies in toddlers 

As your child grows, their menu options will be expanding greatly. Introducing new foods can be exciting, but there are risk factors to consider before your child takes that first bite.

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013 revealed that food allergies in children have increased 50% over the past decade, now affecting nearly 1 in 13 children. While this shouldn’t stop or discourage you from introducing Baby to new things, it’s important to know what types of food are most likely to cause an allergic reaction, as well as what warning signs to look for.

Parents whose children have already tried most or all major allergens may think they’re out of the woods, and they’re probably right, but it’s always a good idea not to forget about the signs of an allergic reaction. It’s unclear why, but allergic reactions can develop later, and allergies that children may seem to have grown out of can come back later in life.

Most common allergens

According to The Mayo Clinic, eight common foods cause more than 90% of food allergies, and the Food & Drug Administration requires these ingredients be listed on all food labels in the United States (most other countries have similar rules in place). These eight potential allergens are:

  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Milk
  • Tree nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds)
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish (lobster, shrimp, crab)

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions to food usually happen soon after eating a food, but in other cases, it can take a couple of hours or more before an allergic reaction hits. Depending on the strength of the reaction, different symptoms can present themselves. Signs to watch out for include:

  • Swelling of the face or tongue
  • Itching or tingling of the mouth
  • Rash or hives
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting

Identifying food allergies 

Because introducing more than one potential allergen in a short period of time can make it harder to figure out what is causing the symptoms if an allergic reaction happens, parents are often recommended to wait between 3 and 5 days from the time a new food is given before adding another item to the menu. Talk to your child’s doctor for their advice on introducing new foods.

Handling a Reaction

Severe allergic reactions are serious and must be dealt with immediately.  Call 911 another emergency line if your child begins vomiting profusely, experiences major swelling, or has difficulty breathing or a loss of consciousness. More mild symptoms, like itching or a rash, can be addressed with your child’s doctor to be further evaluated. If you have questions about when to introduce a particular food, consult with your child’s doctor.

  • “Food Allergies in Schools.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 17 2015. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Food allergy.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, February 12 2015. Web.

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