Healthy living

Food allergies and your baby’s first foods

Breast milk gives the best protection from allergies. For greatest protection do not give solids before 4 months, breastfeed for at least 6 months and while you are introducing foods, and for as long as you desire after that.

Even if there are family members with food allergies, there is no need to delay the start of solid foods or certain types of foods in order to prevent allergies.

The following foods can be introduced from 6 months:

  • egg
  • peanuts and tree nut pastes
  • wheat
  • cow’s milk in cooking
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • sesame.

Delaying or avoiding the introduction of these foods may increase the risk of your baby developing an allergy.

Food allergy and food intolerance symptoms

A small number of babies are allergic to some foods. There are a number of different symptoms of food allergy or food intolerance, which can be similar to the symptoms of other childhood illnesses. Most symptoms of food allergy are mild or moderate and occur within 30 minutes of eating the food. These symptoms may include:

  • swelling of the face, eyes or lips
  • hives or welts
  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • rashes or redness of the skin.

If your baby shows signs of an allergic reaction to food or there is a strong family history of allergy (that is, if a parent or sibling of the baby has allergy), then it may be wise to introduce foods one at a time, 2 or 3 days apart, so you can detect any reactions to foods.

If you suspect your baby has had an allergic reaction to a food, you should avoid giving that food again and make an appointment to see your doctor who will refer you to a paediatric allergist for specialist advice.

See also lactose intolerance in babies.

Where to get help

Local community or child health nurse

  • See inside your baby's purple All About Me book.
  • Look in the phone directory under child health centres.
  • Visit your nearest child health centre.

Local family doctor

Dietitians Association of Australia

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Ngala Helpline

  • 8.00am – 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Phone: 9368 9368
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

Raising Children Network

Remember

  • Breast milk gives the best protection from allergies.
  • For greatest protection against allergies, do not give solids before 4 months.
  • Even if other family members have a food allergy, there is no need to delay the start of solid foods or certain types of foods in order to prevent allergies.

Acknowledgements
Child and Adolescent Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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