Food allergies in babies: advice and prevention

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Food allergies are common from a young age. Your baby is therefore quite ready to develop a reaction to certain foods … However, a few simple steps can help prevent allergies.

The human body is protected against bacteria, viruses and other microbes by the immune system. However, the immune system of a newborn baby is not infallible, far from it! It is under construction. And although some substances are not strictly speaking harmful, they may not be tolerated by the little ones. While food allergies can present in very different forms (eczema, hives, respiratory or intestinal symptoms), the remedy will always be the same: removing the food from the child’s diet.

Foods at risk

To reduce possible food allergies, it is important to adhere to a special diet during your child’s first year. In fact, it is estimated that most allergies are acquired before the age of 4 and often even before 2 years. The following products are therefore not recommended:

  • Gluten: baby products normally do not contain gluten. However, the moment you introduce solid foods, you may experience an allergic reaction. If this is the case, all products containing gluten should be removed. Check the labels!
  • Chicken eggs: not recommended for children under 8 months.
  • The peanuts: giving peanuts to a baby is usually avoided since they could choke on their size. However, we mistakenly forget to check for the presence of peanuts in certain preparations, when it is a very common allergen.
  • Cow’s milk: cow’s milk allergy is the most common and the risks are much higher in babies who are unable to digest the proteins in milk.
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How to prevent food allergies?

There is no link between the diet of pregnant women and the risk of food allergies in children. Unless medical advice is given, pregnant women should therefore not follow any particular diet, except that usually recommended during pregnancy. No question of depriving yourself of milk, peanuts or eggs: a varied diet is the best way to stay in shape and ensure a healthy pregnancy.

On the other hand, many studies have proven the protective effect of breastfeeding on the future development of food allergies: give the breast during the first 6 months of the child’s life strengthens its immune defenses and reduces the risk of allergies. In addition, breast milk allows a baby to better digest gluten at the start of dietary diversification. However, if an allergy is detected in the child, the breastfeeding mother may have to remove certain foods from her daily diet, such as cow’s milk protein for example.

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How do I know if my baby is allergic?

Depending on your baby’s diet, the first solid foods will be offered from 4 months, preferably in combination with the breast or bottle. While from 6 months, breast milk or powder is not enough and it is necessary to introduce solid food.

Gradually teach your baby to try new tastes. Come up with a new ingredient at a time at 2-3 day intervals and watch how your baby responds. This way, if a food allergy occurs, it will be much easier for you to identify the food responsible. During the first few weeks, be sure to note the composition of the meals given to your infant.

Every baby has a different diet: some take in new foods very quickly, others not. It’s okay to go outside the recommended guidelines sometimes, but try not to stray too far from the official lists. If you are careful with gluten, protein, and peanuts, you can’t hurt your little one. If in doubt, consult a doctor or nutritionist.

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