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Baby and Toddler Food Allergies

Vanessa T.
VANESSA T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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Food allergies... They can be tricky, even if you're not a first-time mom! Tinyhood Registered Dietitian, Vanessa Thornton, is here to get you up to speed.

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VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
snacks and food storage
MICHELLE, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

Hi, my nieces are both allergic to eggs, nuts and dairy. I'd like to have some safe, go-to, pantry snacks on hand for them. What do you recommend. Also, what are the best food storage containers to use if you're worried about allergen cross-contamination...

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Michelle,

What a thoughtful aunt! Your nieces are lucky to have you :)

For pantry snacks, I would highly recommend checking out the Snack Safely guide below:
https://snacksafely.com/safe-snack-guide/

This guide is updated monthly with new product information and makes it easy to find packaged snacks without their allergens- including products that were not made in facilities that process eggs, nuts or dairy of they need to avoid these too. <br/>
In general, I think nut butter alternatives like Sun butter (made from sunflower seeds in a nut free facility) are great to have on hand. Pair this with allergy-free crackers, celery or apples for quick and easy snacks that everyone can enjoy!

Remember that in the US, all packaged food must be labeled with an allergy statement for the top 8 allergens (wheat, soy, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, peanuts, treenuts). Thankfully, your nieces allergies all fall into this category, so you can look for phrases like “CONTAINS NUTS” on the back of food packages to help you easily identify safe vs unsafe options.

As far as storage goes, just be sure everything is clearly labeled. Resealable plastic bags are a great way to keep these special snacks separate to avoid spills or cross contamination but the biggest factor is training everyone eating out of the cabinet to be careful. Wash hands before going in for snacks. Make sure utensils and plates (like a knife for sun butter) are well washed and not being used on the same cutting board that was used for regular peanut butter. If you find yourself worrying despite precautions, find a drawer or small cabinet in your kitchen that you can designate for allergy-friendly snacks only.

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Introducing peanut butter
L, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi! My daughter is almost 7 months old. When should we introduce peanut butter, eggs, strawberries, etc. thanks!!

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi L,

This is a confusing topic for a lot of people as the science of food allergies has been changing rapidly! 10 years ago, experts recommended waiting to introduce potential allergens in order to avoid reactions. Now, however, studies show that babies who are exposed to foods earlier tend to have lower risk of food allergies.

If your daughter is high risk for allergies because of past reaction or strong family history of food allergy, connect with your pediatrician or allergist before introducing solids. If she is at no increased risk, you can introduce most foods early on. In general, if she is developmentally ready for solids and has already tolerated a few foods like rice cereal, fruit, etc., you can go ahead and try peanut butter, cooked eggs and citrus/strawberries. As with any new food, introduce only one food at a time in very small quantities so you can watch for reaction.

The only foods that are really off limits before one year of age are straight cow’s milk (yogurt and cheese are okay) and honey (because it increases the risk of botulism). You also want to be sure you aren’t posing a choking risk so be sure foods are well cooked and cut into appropriate sizes.

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
MSPI
MEGAN, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

My son- now 2.5- had a milk and soy protein intolerance in infancy and I had to go on an elimination diet in order to keep nursing. I tried to be proactive with my daughter and started an elimination diet a month before she was born, but I’m paranoid- at 3 weeks she is having mucus poops and is starting to be a really restless sleeper already! Is there something else I should cut out?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Megan,

I wouldn’t start eliminating any other foods just yet. Some experts feel that any symptoms this early in life are likely not related to food intolerances. It’s possible that your daughter’s mucuosy stools are related to another issue like excessive drooling or illness. Her sleeping pattern might simply be a function of being a newborn or perhaps a little illness.

Milk and soy are by far the most common foods to trigger sensitivities, so I wouldn’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what other foods might be irritating her at 3 weeks. Instead, if you feel her symptoms are truly out of what is normal for her, contact your doctor to discuss symptoms and learn more about what might be causing her changes to stool and sleep.

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Allergic to eggs
CAITLIN, PARENT OF 7 YEAR OLD, 7 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD

I gave my son scrambled eggs at 9 months and he broke out in hives, nothing terrible but definately had a reaction. What are your suggestions for reintroducing them now that he's turned one? (also, probably a stupid question, but he's obviously not allergic to eggs baked into things as he's has tried all sorts of food containing eggs, what's the difference?)

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Caitlin,

If you're working with an allergist, I would contact them to ask about reintroduction as most doctors have specific protocols depending on the food and the severity of the allergy.

Your question about baked eggs is not stupid at all! Allergies are a reaction to the proteins found in foods. When we cook a food like eggs, it denatures (fancy word for breaking down) the protein, so an allergic reaction may be weaker or non-existent.

Typically, doctors will have you start with baked foods like muffins, breads, etc. first. Since he is already tolerating this, the next step is usually to try a more concentrated but still well cooked version of eggs- like french toast, very well cooked scrambled eggs or very hard boiled eggs. When you try this step, you will usually be asked to start with just a tiny bit at first (as small as 1/4 teaspoon) and wait 15-30 minutes to watch for hives or other signs of discomfort. Do not introduce any other new foods at the same meal or even the same day so it is easy to pinpoint what causes any symptoms.

If he tolerates this, you can offer another small portion later in the day, and gradually build up to larger portions over a few days to see how he does. Again, your allergist will have a specific protocol for exactly how much and how often to expose him to eggs.

Many kids who have allergic reactions so young will outgrow their allergies by age 2-3, but not all of them do. It is a good idea to keep benadryl or an epi-pen (if he has one) on hand when trying this and call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away if he has a severe reaction.

Good luck! Let me know if you have any other questions.
Vanessa