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Deal with Allergies in Babies and Children

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Pediatricians urge parents not to rush into giving babies any solid foods.

Many doctors say that breast milk or formula alone is enough for most babies up to 6 months of age.

Rice cereal is usually the first solid food fed to babies, and it seldom causes any food allergy symptoms.

Be extra careful if allergies run in your family

Food allergies tend to run in families, and babies and children of parents who have food allergies are more likely to have food allergies. In families with food allergies, some doctors recommend that the mother breastfeed for about a year.

Baby can be introduced to cereal and solid foods at a very slow pace once he or she is about 6 months old. Some doctors believe that holding off on solid foods as long as possible may cut down on the number of food allergies that a baby might develop.

Postpone introducing foods that could cause serious allergic reactions

Most pediatricians recommend waiting to give toddlers and young children peanut butter, fish, tree nuts, and other foods known to cause food allergies until the child is a little older.

Other foods like wheat, chocolate, tomatoes, berries, eggs and milk are also foods that often cause food allergies. Even one small taste of these foods could cause a serious reaction called anaphylaxis.

Don't rush into giving baby different foods

Your child will eventually eat all of the foods that you do, but during the first year there is no need to rush to introduce new foods. After cereals are given to your baby, vegetables are generally introduced one at a time and then fruits.

It is important to feed a baby the same new food each day for about a week. During this time, watch baby closely as he or she eats. If you see any suspicious rash, coughing or change in behavior, call your doctor immediately.

If any member of your family has a peanut allergy, it is usually recommended that you wait until your child is about 3 years of age to begin giving him or her peanut butter. Some food allergies, like those to peanut butter, can cause life-threatening allergic reactions.

Know the symptoms of a peanut allergy

If you decide to give your young child a peanut butter sandwich, know the signs of an allergic reaction to peanuts. If any of them occur, you will need to act quickly to get emergency help for your child.

Trouble breathing, wheezing, vomiting or diarrhea not long after eating peanut butter are some of the signs to watch for. Also, if your young child develops a rash, hives, or scratches his face around his mouth, this could be a sign of a serious allergic reaction.

Use common sense when introducing foods

When you introduce foods to your child slowly, and you know how to identify food allergies, you can feel confident that you can handle a situation if it arises.

Fortunately, most babies and young children do not have allergic reactions, or if they do, the reaction is mild or moderate. Another great thing about food allergies in children is that many of them are outgrown as the child gets a little older.

Some allergies, such as peanut butter allergies, are not outgrown and the food needs to be avoided for life.

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