Babies and Allergies

Cecilia Carlson
Licensed pediatric nurse

Food allergies

The most common allergies during a child's first years in life are milk protein and egg protein. Nut allergies (including peanuts) are more common later in childhood. If you suspect your baby is allergic to something, the most important thing is to contact your care provider to create a plan for investigating the issue. And not all allergies are the same. You may be concerned even without visible signs like redness around the mouth, rashes, or stomach aches.

Cow milk proteins

Being allergic to cow milk proteins means your baby has an adverse reaction to one or more proteins in cow's milk. It can be found both in breastfed and bottle fed children. In both of these cases, the immune system has identified the affected proteins as something to be rejected and defended against. This releases compounds like histamine, which in turn will trigger the symptoms that your baby may be experiencing.

The symptoms may occur practically immediately, but can also take hours or even days to surface. The most common symptoms are:

  • Stomach ache / colic
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Hives or eczema
  • Blood in stool
  • Poor weight gain
There may also be respiratory symptoms like wheezing, a hacking cough, or a runny nose. However these are not as commons as noticing symptoms in the skin, stomach and mouth.

Your child's care provider can identify, diagnose, and follow up on cow milk protein allergies. The treatment consists of simply eliminating cow milk proteins from your baby's diet. This often results in developing a tolerance within two to three years and being able to safely consume milk.

Milk protein allergies are not the same thing as lactose intolerance, and the two should not be confused. 

Egg allergy

Most people allergic to eggs have an adverse reaction to the proteins in the white of the egg, but reactions to egg yolks also occur. Many children outgrow their allergy in time, but some remain allergic into adulthood. Egg allergy can have similar symptoms as milk protein allergy, namely rashes, swelling, vomiting, stomach aches, and diarrhea.

The most important thing is to avoid any products that contain eggs, or even traces of eggs.

Pollen allergy

It's impossible to say whether your baby might someday develop an allergy. However, there is an increased risk if there's a history of allergies in the family. Allergies may develop at any point in life; Some may be allergic as children, while others only develop it later in adulthood.

Symptoms of pollen allergy

  • Runny and stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Red, runny, itchy eyes
  • Lethargy
  • An itchy throat or mouth

The symptoms may be very similar to a common cold, however that usually brings with it increased phlegm, a thicker snot and sometimes a fever. Pollen allergies will usually vary more from day to day, and last longer than a cold.

Very young children will only seldomly have a pollen allergy, but if you believe your child is showing the symptoms, the wisest thing to do is contact your care provider to explore your options for treatment.

Pharmaceuticals will often help pollen allergies, with the most common options being antihistamines. Some also experience relief from nose sprays and/or eye drops.