Recognizing Food Allergy Signs in Babies and Toddlers

Almost 5% of children younger than 5 years old have a food allergy. How do you know if your child is among them? 

Here at Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center, we see children with all sorts of allergies, including those to foods. Food allergies can be incredibly frustrating because they’re hard to identify and challenging to link to a particular offender. 

Sometimes, it’s hard to even recognize if your baby or toddler has a food allergy. Their symptoms aren’t always obviously related to what they eat. 

Here are some things to think about when it comes to recognizing food allergy signs in babies and toddlers. 

It’s important to not diagnose a food allergy on your own. If you see any signs or suspect your child has a food allergy, make an appointment at one of our offices for a full assessment.

Understanding food allergies in children

Food allergies develop when the immune system mistakenly identifies certain proteins in food as harmful. In babies and toddlers, common food allergens include:

Food allergies can develop at any age, even in infancy. Nearly 3% of infants in the United States develop a food allergy before they turn 1 year old. 

The signs of food allergies

Identifying food allergies in babies and toddlers can be challenging; small children don’t usually communicate their symptoms effectively. As a parent or caregiver, however, you can look for these signs:

Skin reactions

Look for hives, eczema, redness, or swelling, particularly around the mouth or face, shortly after eating a specific food.

Gastrointestinal symptoms

Pay attention to frequent vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or constipation, which may indicate a food intolerance or allergy.

Respiratory issues

Watch for coughing, wheezing, nasal congestion, or difficulty breathing, especially if they occur shortly after eating.

Behavioral changes

Be aware of any irritability, fussiness, or changes in mood or behavior after consuming certain foods.

In severe cases, an allergic reaction may lead to anaphylaxis — a life-threatening emergency that causes difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and loss of consciousness. Seek immediate care at the nearest emergency room if you suspect anaphylaxis.

When to seek an evaluation for food allergies

If you suspect your child has a food allergy, reach out to Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center. Our team does a thorough evaluation of your child’s medical history and symptoms. 

We may recommend diagnostic tests such as skin prick tests or blood tests to identify specific allergens.

You can help the process of identifying any allergens by keeping a detailed food diary to help track symptoms and identify potential triggers.

How to manage a food allergy

Once we diagnose a food allergy, you should have your child stay away from the allergen. You’ll need to learn to read food labels, communicate with daycare providers and schools, and be prepared to administer emergency medication (such as epinephrine) in case of accidental exposure.

Think of food allergy management as a partnership between our office, any caregivers, and guardians, such as parents. When you work together and communicate, you can keep your child safe and healthy. 

Call Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center at our nearest office today or send us a message here on our website to book your visit if you’re concerned about food allergies and your little one. 

We're committed to providing comprehensive care and support for families dealing with food allergies. We have offices in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, and Abingdon, Virginia.

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