How will I know if my child has a food allergy?

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Babies are more likely to develop allergies if there’s a history of eczema, asthma, hayfever or food allergies (known together as ‘atopy’) in the family.

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if you think your child is having a reaction to food or drink. They could be having a severe allergic reaction and will need urgent medical attention.

Infants with no family history of atopy can also develop allergies, so the recommendations for introducing solids are the same for all families, including families where a parent or siblings have an allergy. If your baby already has an allergic disease such as severe eczema or food allergy, talk to your doctor before introducing solids.

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If you’re not breastfeeding,  you don’t need give your baby hydrolysed (partially and extensively) infant formula or soy or goat’s milk formula to try to prevent allergy. Standard cow’s milk based formula is fine.

When you start introducing solids (weaning) at around 6 months, but not before 4 months, include common allergy-causing foods by 12 months in an age appropriate form, such as well-cooked egg and smooth peanut butter/paste. Studies show that this may reduce the chance of developing food allergy. You could introduce the foods that commonly cause allergies one at a time so that you can spot any reaction. These foods are:

  • milk
  • eggs
  • wheat
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • fish and shellfish

Introduce foods according to what the family usually eats. If your baby tolerates the food, continue to offer it as part of a varied diet. If possible, continue to breastfeed while you are introducing solids, as this may reduce the risk of allergies developing.

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If your baby has severe eczema and/or is allergic to eggs, giving peanut regularly before they turn 1 can reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy. There is also evidence that introducing cooked egg before 8 months can prevent egg allergy. Discuss this with your doctor.

Many children outgrow their allergies to milk or eggs, but a peanut allergy is generally lifelong. 

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