To recognise the signs of an allergy, read the article on this topic – Signs of a Food Allergy.
Article updated in January 2023.
What should you do when dealing with an allergic reaction?
- Continue breastfeeding (eliminating dairy products and as needed, bovine and soy proteins from the mother’s diet). The rest of the diet remains varied;
- A breastfeeding mother starting an elimination diet for dairy products needs a dietary supplement of 1000 mg calcium/day and 400 UI vitamin D to compensate for their dietary restrictions;
- You shouldn’t delay introducing solid food for babies that have already shown intolerance or allergy signs. At 4–6 months, babies can eat cereals, fruits and vegetables if required. At six months, you need to start solids for all babies for their iron intake (meat, enriched cereals) required for their growth;
- Don’t give them foods that seem to provoke an allergic reaction but give them others. You shouldn’t stop feeding them solid foods if the baby is over six months of age;
- Don’t delay introducing other nutrients considered as potential allergens, such as fish, nuts or eggs. Scientifically speaking, it’s not beneficial to delay the introduction of foods for the prevention of allergies (British Columbia, Health Line BC, 2013). According to the latest December 2022 data from the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, peanuts and eggs are the top two allergens to give a baby after 6 months of life;
- If the baby drinks formula and shows signs of allergies, see a doctor before changing. You can be prescribed hypoallergenic (or strongly hydrolysed) formula preventing skin reactions such as eczema or asthma. This special formula digests easier than more traditional cow milk or soya milk and can help delay or diminish symptoms. Sometimes you can use soy milk, but always after six months;
- For severe allergies, the doctor or allergist can prescribe formulas made with amino acids;
- Returning the allergen food in the diet after a severe reaction by the child (milk, bovine, soy or other proteins) depends on each child, the allergen in question, their entire history and the response they had. Only your doctor or allergist can tell you when to reintroduce it. Sometimes, it will be after one year of age and sometimes even 2–3 years, when the child will be able to indicate their discomfort. Some children will eat in a secure environment with the specialist and their team, ready to react in case of strong reactions;
- The use of probiotics (Lactobacillus reuteri) is being studied to help babies calm their crying, especially when breastfeeding. Today, we still don’t understand how probiotics function, but the results seem to show an improvement in their crying and help their immature intestine build the intestinal barrier (intestinal microbiota);
- Attention: Soya, rice or almond drinks aren’t good alternatives for sensitive newborns. Additionally, you should avoid goat or ewe milk, because the protein resembles that of cow milk. So not before 12 months.
It’s not easy to diagnose an allergy in a very young child. Your observations of your baby can play an essential role in helping health professionals build their history and collect data needed to understand the problem to advise you.
Please keep an eye out for signs of allergies, especially if you have them in the family. Importantly, before changing your baby’s diet, consult people who can guide you. Don’t forget that these changes may lead to more undesirable reactions in your baby.
For more information on the subject, visit the Allergies Québec website at the following link: https://allergies-alimentaires.org/en/.
I hope that this entry has answered some of your questions about food allergies and intolerance.
For more information, please watch the live video Milk Intolerance and Allergy where I respond to parents’ questions and concerns.
Finally, you can print the Guide to Introducing Solid Foods to an Infant (in french), where you can check off foods as you introduce them to your baby. You can also consult the Pediatric Nutritionists website which offers an introduction table of allergens with lots of very interesting tips.
The Baby Expert