This post is kindly brought to you by Doctor To You.
I was very cautious when it came to start solids with Charlie. Probably because I can be slightly melodramatic and the thought of feeding my kid something that could potentially kill him freaked me right out. Also, his cousin suffers bad allergies to egg and dairy so I always wondered if Charlie might have issues too. My mother’s group was throwing scrambled egg at their babies willy-nilly for months before I ventured there with Charlie, and when I did he was fine. Ditto peanut butter. The kid basically has a fliptop head when it comes to food.
But, the fear was real for me and for many parents, it’s well-founded. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), 1 in 20 babies suffer from food allergies, and 10 percent of bubbas under one year old are affected (and 4-8 percent of children up to the age of 5). Worse, hospital admissions for severe allergic reactions have doubled in the past ten years in Australia. No one really knows why, which there’s mounting evidence along the lines of ‘let your kids eat dirt / eggs / peanut butter waaaay before they are a year old’. (Please talk to your doctor first before taking medical / dietary advice from me, though.)
Here are the top five food triggers for allergic reactions in babies…
1. Peanuts. Very annoying because a) they’re in so many things and b) I have no idea how you live without satay sauce. Or peanut butter sandwiches. If your bubba is allergic to peanuts, you need to be wary of a whole heap of things including Asian takeaways, baked goods, nougat, peanut oil, sauces, sweets and more.
2. Tree nuts. Different from peanuts (known as groundnuts), tree nuts include almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Again, off-limits foods include baked goods, pasta sauces, Asian foods, but check labels and treat breakfast cereals, salad dressings and chocolate/lollies with suspicion.
3. Shellfish. These include crustaceans like prawns, crab or lobster, and molluscs such as clams, scallops, oysters or mussels. The good news? A shellfish allergy isn’t the same as a seafood allergy, so your kid may still be able to eat fish.
4. Milk. Can occur when bubbas are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk, which unfortunately is the basis of many formulas. If you’re using formula your GP may suggest you switch to a hypoallergenic one and if you’re breastfeeding, you may need to restrict the amount of dairy you’re eating – but your doctor is best to guide you here.
5. Egg. Something I didn’t know is that most egg allergy reactions occur in very young children with eczema. Also that the egg white is more likely to cause a reaction than the yolk, and that kids with egg allergy may have an increased risk of dust mite allergy and asthma. The list of things to avoid is huge and includes quiches, custards, meringues, condiments such as mayo, sauces, cakes, pre-crumbed meats, ice creams and more. Ask your GP for a full list.
Has your baby had an allergic reaction to something? Or are you an Epipen-toting mama or papa? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments, and how it’s changed your life.