It is common for children to develop a sensitivity to food due to their immature body systems. There are two issues children can face when introduced to new foods.
Baby Food Intolerance
When food causes a digestive upset it is classes as a food intolerance. These are fairly common amongst children and they can outgrow them as their digestive system matures. However, it may last a lifetime. Common food intolerance includes: lactose (milk), wheat, fructose (fruit sugar) and gluten (grains).
Symptoms of food intolerance
- Digestive problems
- General irritability
These symptoms usually occur within 30 minutes of eating the offending food. Avoidance of these food is the best way to deal with the nasty side effects of eating them. Food intolerance is become more widely recognised and shops now cater to common intolerance with like for like alternatives.
A food intolerance usually diagnosed by keeping a food and symptoms diary, which will show a common pattern overtime. If your child has a number of intolerances it’s best to discuss their diet with a nutritionist to help you identify alternatives and diet plans.
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Baby Food Allergy
This occurs when certain foods affect your child immune system. Around 6-8% of children in the UK have some fort of food allergy. It is more common if either of the parent has or had the allergy at some point. As your immune system develops there is the possibility you may grow out of the allergy. Common allergies include, peanuts, dairy and eggs.
- General irritability
- Problems breathing
- Rashes, especially around the face or neck
- Runny nose
These symptoms usually occur immediately, however can sometimes take a few hours to occur. If your child report feeling funny after eating certain foods its best to inform the GP who can refer them for allergy testing. They also may occur on the second occasion you child eats the food, as the first tasting is when they develop the sensitivity.
The severity of an allergy can range from a mild localised reactions, to severe anaphylactic shock. Depending on the severity it can range from avoidance of these foods to carrying an adrenaline epi-pen if the allergy is demeaned life threatening.
Allergies to certain foods are common and best avoided by babies younger than a year old. They are known to cause problem with underdeveloped immune systems. This includes
- Cows milk
- Citrus fruits
- Nuts (especially peanuts)
When you do start to introduce these foods to a baby its best to leave at least 5 days between introducing a new one. This way if any reaction occurs within this time you will know the food which was the most likely cause.
Tips for dealing with allergies or intolerance
1. Read Labels – Even though your child is not sensitive to the main ingredients there may be additive or a cooking method which can cause a reaction. The label will tell you all of the ingredient in the food.
2. Homemade is best – Not only is it healthier, but you’ll know exactly what’s in your baby’s food with no need to worry about a reaction.
3. Cook it – With certain food the allergies or intolerance is caused by lack of enzymes to break the food down. Occasionally children can tolerate cooked version of the food better than the food in raw form, particularly with fruit and vegetable sensitivities.
4. Get Support – If your child has recently been diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance it can be a lot to take on. You will probably want lots of advice from those who have been there and done it. Try to connect with other parents facing the same struggles. Great place to start are charity support groups or online forums.
5. Let others Know – It’s important to inform any caregivers of your child’s allergy or intolerance. If there is any potential for food to be eaten then they need to be alerted. Common place to inform include school, friends parents and clubs. This will minimise the risk of any attacks when you are not around.
Check out these great websites for support with your child’s food allergies and intolerance