Starting to feed babies with solid foods can be an exciting stage for parents but it is essential for every parent to be wary about food allergies. They need to know the foods that they are feeding their young with, especially foods that most babies develop an allergic reaction to. Base on research findings, one way to determine if your young has an allergy is to introduce allergy prone foods during the weaning period. This is because infants’ immune systems strengthens and improves as they grow older – meaning there is a possibility that they can outgrow any allergies if any. Therefore, it is recommended to introduce foods such as fish, eggs and cow milk when your child is 5 months of age. For instance, children whom are allergy prone and / or used to drinking breast milk should have cow’s milk introduced in small quantities in their cereal porridge each time.
What is an allergy?

An allergy happens when your child’s immune system reacts to a harmless substance also known as an allergen. This is usually found in foods consumed. But different foods have different protein content, which means every child that has an allergic reaction to that food may or may not experience the same symptoms when the same food is consumed. This is not to be confused with food intolerance, which means the reaction to the food consumed has nothing to do with the child’s immune system, and is only a chemical reaction to the food taken. More common kinds of food intolerance include gluten and lactose intolerance.

Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms usually show as soon as a few minutes after the food is consumed. For certain cases, it can take up to 2 hours to show the signs of an allergy. Allergy reactions in infants usually occur in the skin and gastrointestinal tract. If you are introducing a new food to your baby, keep a look out for symptoms such as skin rashes, pimples, a sore bottom or peeling or flaking skin. Also, do notice if your child has diarrhea, vomiting or have indications of blood in stools. These are also signs of food allergies.

Allergy Prevention through Breast Milk

Breast milk has been proven to be most beneficial in allergy prevention for babies. Within the first few hours after delivery of your child, it is scientifically proven that the mother’s milk contains an exceptionally high amount of immunity agents that can help boost the baby’s antibodies. This is usually termed as the first oral vaccination for babies. Breast milk is always packed with nutrients that the baby requires to grow strong and healthy.

However, in some rare cases, there are some babies who are intolerant to their mother’s milk. In a case of allergies, breast milk helps to protect the child, as his/her diet is only exclusive to breast milk. This means the baby is not exposed to other possible allergens such as cow or soymilk.

During the weaning period, mothers should include breast milk in the child’s diet in addition with other
supplementary food since today’s baby food is totally safe and compatible with breast milk. This is especially the case of gluten infused food items – which is a protein component that is found in most grains. Therefore, it is ideal that cereal porridge (grain porridge) is prepared using breast milk and breast milk should be remained as part of the child’s diet during the weaning period.

Here are some general guidelines that you can follow to prevent allergies:

  • Starting your child on a weaning diet is an exciting milestone but you need to understand common food allergies and intolerances that your child might have. Rule of thumb: Always introduce one new food per week and monitor if there are any allergy reactions. Only replace one breastfeeding meal with a supplemental food each month.
  • While breast milk can help prevent allergies in your baby, it is also important to note that boiled vegetables and fruits are more suitable for your child’s first supplemental meal compared to raw fruits and vegetables.
  • It is recommended to add fruits and vegetables in mono-grain porridges; porridges that only contain one kind of grain. It is also highly recommended to add breast milk into grain porridges for maximum benefits. Gluten-free millet porridges can be combined with fruits and vegetables for a milk-free meal.
My Baby has an Allergy to Cow’s Milk – What food can I feed?

If your child developed an allergy to cow’s milk, you should stop feeding him/her cow’s milk and stop giving your child any products that contains cow’s milk. Fortunately, an allergy to cow’s milk can disappear as a child grows and this usually happens when the child is about 3 years old. Check with your pediatrician when cow’s milk can be reintroduced to your child’s diet again.

In an event your child has an allergy to cow’s milk you should not:

  • Start and provide formula milk that contains cow milk
  • Hidden milk components such as milk powder, casein and cream have to be avoided. In case of doubt, please check with the food manufacturer for the
    actual ingredients used to process the food.

According to scientific food nutrition research, hypoallergenic food (HA food) is the next best allergy prevention range of foods apart from breast milk. The cow milk protein content in HA foods’ are broken down as much as possible so that its allergy-inducing properties are reduced considerably.

However, if a child has already developed an allergy towards cow’s milk, HA milk foods should not be fed as there is still a considerable amount of protein components which the child will react to. In this case, semi-elemental food should be fed instead. Semi-elemental food contains protein hydrolysates that are broken down to prevent any allergy reaction. Other nutrients such as carbohydrates, milk fat content, vitamins and minerals are added through block-based methods.

Plant based milk such as soy , oat and almond milk are not recommended to replace breast / cow’s milk as these products do not contain any important nutrients for healthy infant growth. Plant based milk should only be considered as a beverage after the child is past the weaning period and able to consume solid foods together with the family. This is usually when the child is one year old or older.

My Baby has Gluten Intolerance– What food can I feed?

For babies who are intolerant to gluten, a special diet must be adhered to. Any products that contain gluten should be avoided and only gluten-free grains such as rice, corn and millet should be fed. More information about gluten-free diets and gluten intolerance can be found in the other recommendations section.

Remember to always pay attention to the ingredients used in any food item (especially those that contain wheat and gluten) before purchasing or feeding your child.

If your child is suffering from wheat allergy, Holle has a range of wheat-free foods that are suitable for your baby’s diet.

  • Holle Organic Rice Porridge
  • Holle Organic Millet Porridge
  • Holle Organic Oats Porridge
  • Holle Organic Grain 3 Porridge
  • Holle Organic Millet with Apple & Pear Porridge
  • Holle Organic Milk Porridge
What are the effects of Gluten Intolerance?

Though Gluten Intolerance also known as Coeliac disease does not affect the immune system, but the effects of it can be severe if your child’s diet still contains wheat or gluten. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that your child’s diet is completely avoidant of wheat or gluten.

The risk of gluten intolerance can be reduced if parents adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Gluten food products should not be fed to infants aged 4 months and below
  • Gluten food items can be gradually added to the infant’s diet from the 5th to 7th month when the child just started weaning
  • Start by adding small amounts of gluten to your baby’s diet and gradually increase the dosage
  • Ideally, it is best to introduce gluten food items while you are still breast feeding

For optimal infant growth and health, the following foods should be avoided during the first 12 months

  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Seafood
  • Honey, sweets and chocolate
  • Salt
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