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Food Allergies And Food To Avoid

Food allergies and foods to avoid

Introducing solids is an important time for your child – you'll learn which foods they don't like. Try to keep an eye out for any foods they might be allergic or intolerant to. By introducing foods that might cause an allergic reaction gradually, you can pinpoint any that might cause problems.

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

If your child is allergic to a food, the signs will be there within minutes or even seconds. The most common symptoms are:

• Coughing.

• Dry, itchy throat and tongue.

• Itchy skin or rash.

• Nausea and feeling bloated.

• Diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

• Wheezing and shortness of breath.

• Swelling of the lips and throat.

• Runny or blocked nose.

• Sore, red and itchy eyes.

Foods that cause allergies

Some foods are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than others, and are worth watching out for:

• Cows' milk and other milk products.

• Nuts.

• Cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, oats and barley).

• Eggs.

• Soya beans.

• Fish.

• Crustaceans (such as crab and lobster).

• Mustard.

• Sesame seeds.

• Peanuts.

• Sulphur dioxides and sulphites (preservatives used in some foods and drinks).

• Celery.

Foods to avoid

There are some foods you should hold off giving to your child before a certain age, to avoid increasing the risk of allergies while their immune system is developing:

• Gluten (before 6 months).

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and oats. Many health care professionals recommend that you avoid giving your child any of these for the first 6 months. If you are not sure whether a product contains gluten, look out for 'gluten-free' on the label.

• Fish (before 6 months).

Fish can cause an allergic reaction in some children so it's a good idea not to give your child any fish before they are 6 months old. Once they reach 6 months fish can form part of a balanced diet.

• Peanuts and foods containing peanuts should not be given to children from families with a history of allergy until they are at least 3 years old. Otherwise, they can be given from 6 months. Do not give whole nuts of any kind to children under 5 years of age because they pose a choking risk.

What to do if your child has a food allergy

If you think your child has a food allergy, make an appointment with your doctor so they can diagnose the problem and give you advice on how to manage it. Thankfully with food labelling laws you should find it easier to decide on what you can and can't feed your child. But there's no doubt that dealing with food allergies and intolerances might seem daunting at first, but lots of mums get used to it.