Many parents look forward to the fun of introducing solid foods, watching their child’s little face register a like or dislike.

But what no parent anticipates is a food allergy, let alone a severe reaction to a brand new food. How will you know an allergic response? What are the symptoms?

Food Allergies Can Start Early

Food allergies may present as early as the first year, even in the first few months of life. The three big triggers for babies are cows milk, egg, and soy. Never introduce these foods at the same time. Introduce one, watch for physical symptoms over the next week, and then move on to another. You want to be able to identify the trigger of the allergy should there be a reaction.

As your baby ages, more foods may be suspect: peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews), shellfish (shrimp and lobster), and wheat. While your children will be eating a diverse diet at this point, try introducing these foods separately and pay attention to any physical reaction.

What Does An Allergic Response Look Like?

A response can take hours or minutes to occur. Children can experience a response by eating, smelling or touching the offending food. Reactions may include rashes, hives (like welts on the body), stomach pain with vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and swelling in the mouth and throat.

What Do I Do?

When a child experiences severe symptoms in at least two body systems (for instance, breathing difficulty and hives or vomiting and mouth swelling), take it very seriously. This could be anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. The most serious symptoms, either on their own or combined, are compromised breathing and blood circulation. Administer Benadryl orally, call your pediatrician and an ambulance if you suspect a severe allergic response.

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