Keeping Allergies at Bay when Introducing Solid Foods to your Baby
Your baby is growing up fast. She has crossed the age of six months, and she can probably sit up on her own. She looks with interest as you have your meals. This is the best time to introduce her to solids! However, the journey of your baby from breast milk to solid foods might cause some food allergies. It is critical for you to be aware of the foods that can upset your baby’s digestive system and know just how to save him from scary allergies!
Starting solid foods is quite an adventure for your little ones. They have fed exclusively on milk – breast milk or formula – all this while and it is now time to eat something more interesting! While starting solid foods is crucial for your child’s growth and development, this is also a very sensitive time for his stomach. Many babies come down with one food allergy or the other when they start solid foods, or have been eating solid foods for a relatively short period of time. While these allergies are common, that doesn’t make them any less painful for your baby!
Common Food Allergies To Guard Your Baby Against – and What Causes Them
Hives are pale, patchy areas on the skin that are itchy and pinkish in appearance. They are often known to disappear and make a sudden re-appearance again.
Foods that cause them: soybeans, wheat, fish, eggs and shellfish
Eczema is a reddish rash on the skin which is dry, thickened and scaly in appearance. Although eczema is usually aggravated by heat, dust and pollution, food sources are not uncommon.
Foods that cause them: dairy products, soy and eggs
This is the scariest allergy of all. Your little one’s airway closes, and she finds it hard to breathe. Like all allergies, the exact cause cannot be pinpointed, but there are certain foods proven to bring this on in some babies.
Foods that cause them: certain types of nuts and eggs
Must Do’s to Avoid Food Allergies in Babies
The key to preventing food allergies in babies is simple: totally avoid foods that cause them. But this is simpler said than done! If you are feeding a little bit of everything to your baby, as most mother do, tracking the allergen becomes all the more difficult. It is best to consult your allergist at the earliest in case of an outbreak. The expert, after taking a few blood or skin tests, would be able to tell you the foods that are triggering the allergic reactions in your baby.
Here are some must-dos you should keep in mind to avoid allergies and ensure that your baby is gaining all the right nutrients from the food she is just beginning to eat:
1. Introduce Solids Very, Very Gradually
This is the most important step. You must never rush into solid foods. Introduce solid foods to your baby in a phased manner only, and be constantly vigilant to any reactions or symptoms she might develop as a result.
2. Never Forget to Read Food Labels
Whenever you feed your baby anything brought from the store, read the food labels carefully. This is especially critical before introducing a new food, and will go a long way in preventing severe allergic reactions in your baby.
3. Give Detailed Instructions to Caretakers
Leave detailed written instructions about the foods to be avoided if you have day-care workers, babysitters or relatives taking care of your little one. Also, make sure that the caretakers know exactly what steps to follow in case of an allergic outbreak.
4. Make An Anti-allergy Action Plan
Allergies usually don’t follow any rules and recurrence is usually more severe than the first episode. Consult with your baby’s pediatrician or allergist, and chalk out a detailed action plan for a sudden outbreak of allergies. The doctor might prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector which automatically administers the right dose of epinephrine to your baby.
5. Finally, Keep Track of and Act According to Your Family History
If allergies run in the family, chances are your baby would also inherit them. In that case, delay the introduction of solids for as long as possible and breastfeed your baby. Breast milk improves the immunity of your little one, and makes her less prone to allergies.
Although food allergies seem like scary monsters, the good news is that most children outgrow them before they begin school. However, if your little one does have an allergy, ensure that you use anti-allergic products like fabrics, detergents, etc. as food allergies can trigger allergies of other kind as well. A little bit of vigilance and care is all that is needed to keep those allergies at bay. Good luck!