I’m a weaning expert – here’s how to spot a deadly food allergy

WEANING your baby can be hard work – especially as they work out what foods they like and dislike.

But for parents who have little ones with food allergies, this can be even more stressful.


Weaning can be a stressful time for parents as your baby discovers what they like and dislike at meal timesCredit: Getty

Expert feeding consultant, Lucy Thomas has revealed how you can guide your baby through weaning and be alert to any potential allergies or intolerances.

Lucy, who is the fussy eating expert at Organix, said it’s important to be able to spot a deadly food allergy and how this differs from an intolerance.

She explained that a food allergy is a reaction by your immune system.

In some foods, she says your immune system mistakenly treats proteins found in food as a threat.

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“Symptoms usually happen quickly after eating a small amount of the food, such as a rash, wheezing and itching.

“Common food allergies in babies and children include milk, eggs, fish, peanuts and other nuts”, she said.

It’s these things you need to look out for when weaning baby as food allergies can be deadly.

But intolerances are slightly different and don’t involve the immune system, meaning there is no allergic reaction.

Lucy explained that food intolerances cause symptoms that happen gradually, over a few hours after eating the food.

She added that it only results in symptoms if baby was to have eaten a substantial amount of the food – unlike an allergy when the slightest bit of food could trigger a reaction.

If you’re starting to wean your baby, Lucy said that a relaxed, fun approach will help it be a positive experience for everyone involved.

Lucy said: “If you are particularly concerned about how your little one may react to a certain food, use only a small amount in isolation.

“Encouraging your baby to smell, kiss or simply lick a new food is a great way to build their confidence with an unfamiliar food but also will allow you the opportunity to watch out for any reactions that may occur on their hands or face.”

When trying out new foods with your baby, Lucy said there are some ways that you can encourage independent feeding.

The key signs of food allergies you need to know

Symptoms of a food allergy develop in the first few seconds after eating a food.

The NHS says the key signs to watch out for include:

  • tingling or itching in the mouth
  • itchy rash
  • swelling of the face
  • difficulty swallowing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • feely dizzy
  • feeling or being sick
  • abdominal pain
  • hay-fever like symptoms

This includes chopping food into sticks and using soft cooked vegetables.

“Lead by example and demonstrate how your little one can brush their gums or teeth with a baton of soft cooked carrot or other roots vegetable.

“Join in with lots of enthusiastic “ahhhhh” and “Cheeeese” as you brush your own teeth to encourage them to do the same”, Lucy suggested.

She added that getting messy can also help your child get comfortable with different foods.

“Finger popping is a brilliant way to have fun, encourage independent feeding and introduces only a small amount of food to begin with.

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“Demonstrate how you can dip your own finger into a new food – this could be a puree, porridge or mashed food, then suck your finger to make a loud popping sound!

“Encourage your baby to do the same and give lots of encouraging praise for their efforts”, Lucy added.

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