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What are the signs of food allergy in a 4-month-old?

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What are the signs of food allergy in a 4-month-old?


Presumably your 4-month-old has had nothing but breast milk or formula up to this point, since pureed foods are not recommended until 4 to 6 months. The first food we recommend for infants is rice cereal, because there is only a minuscule chance that they might be allergic to it. In fact, rice is the grain that is most commonly eaten by people all over the world for that very reason. Nevertheless, any food can trigger an allergy. I have seen rice provoke an allergic reaction in a few babies over the years.

Give your child a new food for two or three days before you introduce another. This makes it easier to tell if she is reacting to a particular food. (For more information on introducing solids, click here.) The most common reactions are not allergies but intolerances -- that is, bloating, diarrhea and gas caused by difficulty digesting a particular food.

Allergies involve the immune system and are potentially more serious. Although they are likely to occur shortly after eating the food, reactions may take up to 72 hours to occur. Wheat, egg white, and cow's milk are the most likely to provoke a reaction under age 1, so avoid them until after her first birthday. Vomiting, hives, wheezing or difficulty breathing, bloody diarrhea, and cramping suggest allergy. (See All About Food Allergies for more information.)

Your baby is most likely to show food allergies in the first year, and the risk is much lower after age 3. The risk is increased if your family has a history of allergies. If that is the case, delay the introduction of eggs until age 2 and put off peanut butter, fish, and seafood until age 3. If you are breastfeeding and have a family history of allergies, eliminate nuts, peanuts, eggs, and possibly milk from your own diet. If you do eliminate dairy products, however, be sure to consult your own doctor about getting enough calcium in your diet.  

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