Introducing allergens

  • The most common foods that people are allergic to are egg, peanut, cow’s milk (dairy), tree nuts, soy, sesame, wheat, fish, and other seafood
  • When introducing solid foods to your baby, include common allergy causing foods before 12 months of age suitable to their age, (for example well-cooked egg and smooth peanut butter). This may reduce the chance of your child developing a food allergy
  • Once introduced, continue to give these foods to your baby regularly (twice per week), as part of a varied diet, to maintain tolerance. Trying a food and then not giving it regularly may result in your child developing a food allergy
  • Use nut pastes and nut spreads for children under 3 as they can choke on whole nuts
  • Some babies may still develop a food allergy despite following this advice
  • If your baby has an allergic reaction, stop giving that food and get medical advice or call 000 (Triple Zero).

Signs of a food allergy

Around 1 in 10 babies under the age of one develop a food allergy but many are outgrown with time. Your child’s chances of having an allergy are increased if an allergy or eczema runs in the family.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), are related to the immune system and include difficult/noisy breathing or your baby becomes pale and floppy, or if there is tongue swelling. These symptoms usually appear soon after your child has a particular allergen.

Other signs of an allergic reaction can include:

  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Asthma, wheeze, difficulty talking
  • Swelling of face, lips and/or eyes
  • Tummy pain, vomiting

Intolerances to food usually involve the digestive system. Diagnosis is usually by avoiding the food and reintroducing it to see if there’s any effect. Symptoms can include:

  • Tummy pain
  • Gas or bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Recurring mouth ulcers
  • Headaches

Every child is different so it is best to speak with your health professional if you are concerned.