Cow’s milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, egg, soy and wheat are most likely to cause an allergic reaction in children. Most children will grow out of milk and egg allergies. If you suspect your child has a food allergy or intolerance, see your GP or paediatrician straight away.
It can also help to do the following:
- Keep a food diary and record food eaten and any reactions. Include what food was eaten, how much, what symptoms, how long they lasted and if any medication was given.
- If a reaction occurs in a restaurant or at a friend’s home, find out exactly what was in the food given to your child. If a symptom arises – such as a rash – take a photo to show your doctor.
- If a symptom occurs after eating a particular packaged food, save the packaging with the nutrition label or take a photo to show your GP or paediatrician.
- Remove suspected foods from their diet for a period of 2-6 weeks or until symptom fades (discuss first with your GP or paediatrician).
- Slowly reintroduce the foods, in a controlled manner, one at a time, recording any symptoms if they should appear.
- Have a detailed record of any allergy history on both sides of the family.
The new guidelines around introducing peanuts suggest that you can start from as early as six months. The idea is that this will give your little one time to build up a tolerance. The best way to introduce it is in the form of smooth peanut butter with no added sugar, vegetable oils or sodium. Never offer a whole nut to a baby. Rub a little bit on the inside of the cheek and if no reaction, give ½ teaspoon. Try again for a few subsequent days. If there is any sign of a reaction see your GP before continuing further.