Baby in mother's arms with hand in mouth.

How to identify food allergies in babies

As you begin transitioning your baby to solid foods, you might notice unusual reactions during or after feeding. By feeding your baby new foods one at a time, it can be easier for you to identify if food allergies exist. Some allergies can go away as your baby grows older, but even mild allergies can develop into serious ones. Keep track of any changes that occur during this time and discuss them with your health care professional if you suspect your baby has a food allergy.

Baby food allergy symptoms

Allergic reactions usually appear within a few minutes to several hours after eating, and can take many forms. Typical and extreme signs of a true food allergy are:

  • Skin rash or flushed skin
  • Blood and/or mucus in the stool
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
  • Excessive spit-up, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Treating a food allergy in babies

Your health care professional might recommend switching to a baby formula that is easier for babies with milk allergies to digest. Talk with your health care provider before switching baby formulas.

How can you switch baby formula?

  • Switch your infant’s baby formula only when you and your health care professional have identified a problem and believe a different baby formula could help.
  • Avoid switching from a cow’s-milk-based formula unless advised by your health care professional.
  • There is no medical evidence, but some moms find ready-to-feed baby formula sits better with babies. Ready-to-feed baby formula might be helpful if you are traveling to areas where water quality or variability is a concern.
  • When switching baby formula, it is not necessary to mix the two formula types for a short while. A clean switch is appropriate.
  • It can take a week or longer before an infant’s symptoms change after switching baby formula.

When should you call your health care professional?

Call your health care professional if your baby:

  • Is crying excessively and you have ruled out hunger, wet diaper, exhaustion, being overly warm or cool, or external pain
  • Has a rectal temperature higher than 100.4°F (for infants younger than 2 months)
  • Refuses food for longer than is typical
  • Vomits excessively or has excessive diarrhea

Listen to your instincts and talk to your health care professional about any concerns.

Did you know?

Nutrition is key to all of the ways your baby develops in her 1st year of life. Find out about how her brain and bones are developing.

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