Child with bowl of healthy food infront of yellow background

Food allergy education: 6 things you need to know for your child

A common question asked among many parents is: How do I know if my child has a food allergy? Something we hear often. We know prevention is the best form of cure, and we would rather prevent our little ones from having a reaction we cannot control in the first place. So, when they’re ready for solids, it’s important to introduce different food varieties little by little in order to rule out any allergies.

1. So, what are food allergies exactly?

When our immune system sees food as an invader, it triggers an allergic reaction. Our bodies are designed to routinely fight infections, and in the case of a food allergy our body reacts in a similar way. Instead of fighting off a cold or a flu, our body is attempting to protect us from a particular food, and a food allergy develops.

2. Who is at risk?

Anyone is potentially at risk of developing a food allergy. However, if either parent has allergies there is a higher likelihood of the child developing a food allergy. Even if previous reactions have been mild, it’s important to remain vigilant as anyone with a food allergy is potentially at risk of the next reaction being more severe or even life-threatening.

Individuals with a food allergy are usually recommended to avoid the problem food/s altogether.

3. What are the most common food allergies?

Any food may cause an allergic reaction in children as well as adults. These are the most common allergens known to cause 90% of all reactions in kids:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts (such as walnuts and cashews)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish (such as shrimp)
  • Sesame

4. What is an allergic reaction?

An allergic reaction is your immune system responding to a food that it does not agree with. This stimulates the body to release chemicals such as histamines. Reactions can be mild or severe; and as we know, a person can have a severe reaction to a food even if they have only experienced mild reactions previously. Allergic reactions can produce different symptoms, including:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Throat tightness
  • Belly pain
  • Vomiting (the most common in infants)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Itchy, watery, or swollen eyes
  • Hives (the most common in infants)
  • Red spots
  • Swelling
  • Light-headedness or loss of consciousness (passing out)

In some cases, allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis.

5. What is a food intolerance?

It is often the case that food allergies are confused with food intolerances. The symptoms of food intolerances are far less severe than food allergies. Symptoms can include burping, indigestion, gas, loose stools, headaches, or nervousness.

Food intolerances do not involve the immune system and can occur if you simply do not chew your food properly or because you can’t digest a substance, such as lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance can be unpleasant; however they aren’t usually dangerous or life threatening in the same way that allergies can be.

6. Receiving a diagnosis

Our fantastic Adelaide Paediatrics’ Allergy Team provides diagnosis and treatment for issues such as:

  • Environmental Allergies
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Skin prick testing
  • Immunotherapy
  • Dietitian support & advice
  • Food & drug challenges

We have an amazing team working across Allergy and Immunology including Dr Henning Johannsen, Dr Leigh Mackey, Dr Melissa Norman and Dr Christine Ziegler, and allergy dietitians Laura Ryan and Rachel George providing services at several locations.

For a little more information, you can directly reach out to us HERE

Adelaide Paediatrics – Helping Children and Families Thrive

Adelaide Paediatrics’ doctors, allied health professionals and staff care about your family and what you are going through. We take the time to listen and understand so that you feel supported and empowered as we work together to care for your child. We know that sometimes medical issues in children cannot wait, so if an appointment is required urgently, we will accommodate as best we can and can usually offer an urgent appointment with a paediatrician within 7 days.

Baby with bib on using a spoon to eat solids

Starting solids with Chelsea Mauch

There are so many exciting “firsts” with your new baby. The introduction of solids is one that can be a lot of fun, but also a little daunting for new parents. Like many things, practice makes perfect, and the more you know about how to approach introducing solids for the first time with your baby, the more confident you will be, and the happier and more relaxed your little one is likely to be.

There’s a sea of information on the internet about starting solids, which can be quite overwhelming! This is why we’d like to simplify the basics in relation to starting solids, with some easy-to-understand tips to get you started.

It’s important your baby can sit upright with some support, and hold their head up

Around 6 months of age, babies are usually ready to start solids. When they’re showing signs of interest in the foods you’re eating, this is an indication that they’re ready to start solid foods. It is also important that they can sit upright with some support, hold their head up steadily and that they have gained some control over their tongue. At this age, your baby’s digestive system and ability to chew and swallow is improving rapidly in readiness for the transition to solids.

Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding should continue while introducing solids

5 steps on how to easily start introducing solids

  • Introducing one new food at a time is a great way to allow your child to slowly explore new tastes for the very first time, and also identify possible allergies.
  • It’s important to remember; all they’ve ever known is breastmilk or formula, so don’t be too worried if they’re a little hesitant to start off with. In fact, it may take 10 to 15 tries of a food before they decide they like it. They’ll become more adventurous as the process starts to become familiar. That’s when the real messy fun starts!
  • The best time to offer your baby solids for the first time is after either breastmilk or formula, starting with small amounts.
  • Smooth foods can be good to start with but texture should be increased over the first few months as their skills develop. Great first foods are cooked and pureed vegetables or fruits, progressing to chunky mashed foods, followed by soft finger foods. Add plain water or their usual milk to pureed or mashed foods if you need to make it a little runnier.
  • There is no need to add salt or sugar to your baby’s food. Remember; they have only had milk so far, and have more tastebuds than an adult, so new flavours on their own are much more exciting to them than they might be to you!

If your baby is approximately 4-6 months old and you’d like to know a little more about how to introduce solid foods, book into one of our “Starting Solids and Nutrition in the First-Year” group education sessions.

Each two-hour group education session includes:

  • Starting solids (what, when, how) from the very first purees, through to lumps and finger foods
  • Nutrition for babies and how to encourage healthy eating
  • Developing your baby’s palate
  • Preparing food for babies
  • Extensive written resources including recipes and food preparation methods

This group session is currently held monthly online and booked through our Mile End – SuperGym.

For more information or to book into a group session:

P: 08 7123 6147
E: reception@adelaidepaediatrics.com.au

Adelaide Paediatrics – Helping Children and Families Thrive

Adelaide Paediatrics’ doctors, allied health professionals and staff care about your family and what you are going through. We take the time to listen and understand so that you feel supported and empowered as we work together to care for your child. We know that sometimes medical issues in children cannot wait, so if an appointment is required urgently, we will accommodate as best we can and can usually offer an urgent appointment with a paediatrician within 7 days.

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