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How do I Know if my Baby is Allergic to a Food?

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, Board Certified Pediatrician
January 3, 2019 . 1 min read

When it comes to starting your baby on different foods, you’ve probably heard the advice, “Start one new food every few days, so if your baby has an allergic reaction, you will know which food caused it.” But what exactly does an allergic reaction look like, and does it vary by age?

In very young babies, including those still on breast milk or formula, an allergy usually manifests as a skin rash or a dramatic change in stools. These babies often have severe eczema that won’t respond to the usual treatment with moisturizers and cortisone. They may also have uncomfortable bowel movements with blood or mucus in the stool.

In babies who are starting cereal and other solids, allergies often appear as rashes that appear after eating the offending food. Your baby may or may not appear fussy. If your baby develops a diaper rash after trying a new food, avoid that food until your next scheduled well-child check-up, and then to bring it to your doctor’s attention. There are blood tests that can detect some allergies, but often the food in question can be safely reintroduced at a later time.

Lastly, any reaction that results in difficulty breathing, such as wheezing, requires emergency attention. Please do not delay in calling 911!

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