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All About Your Baby’s Food Allergies, Sensitivities, and Eczema — Oh Baby

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Has your little one ever had a reaction to something they’ve eaten? Or maybe you’re starting solids and want to know how to properly introduce allergenic foods? Properly identifying your child’s reaction to certain foods can be challenging.The terms “food allergy” and “food sensitivity” are often used interchangeably. This is because they both have some overlapping symptoms, which can make them easy to misinterpret. However, they each require vastly different management — meaning the steps you take for an allergy are very different than the steps you take for a sensitivity, both in the immediate and the long-term.Identifying a food allergy: immediate – 2 hours The reaction associated with a food allergy will happen quickly — often within minutes, but it can be any time within 2 hours after consuming the trigger food. If your child develops symptoms after this 2 hour window, then it’s likely not a true food allergy. Pros vs cons of an allergy Pro: The quick reaction time can make allergies easier to identify. Con: Severe anaphylactic allergic reactions can be life-threatening. Also, some allergies persist lifelong, which can have a serious and lasting impact on your child’s life. Identifying a food sensitivity: 2+ hours – 3 days The reaction associated with a food sensitivity is more delayed, with symptoms presenting anywhere between a few hours to 3 days. Pros vs cons of a sensitivity Pro: Food sensitivities are a clear sign that the gut isn’t functioning properly, which can be a blessing in disguise, because sensitivities typically resolve when the digestive and immune system are properly supported. Con: The delay of symptoms makes food sensitivities more difficult to determine. Introducing allergenic foodsIntroducing allergenic foods is a significant part of starting solids, and it’s important that you know how to proceed.Previous guidelines suggested delaying the introduction of high-risk foods until after a baby’s first birthday. However, current research shows that early exposure is KEY. In fact, introducing allergenic foods between 6-12 months actually decreases your baby’s potential risk.While any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, there are 8 high-risk allergenic foods that makeup 90% of all reactions in children. It’s not make-or-break, but I personally prefer introducing them in this order: egg yolk > tree nuts > peanuts > fish > shellfish > soy > egg whites > dairy > wheat. (You may notice that that’s 9, not 8, because I suggest introducing the egg yolk and egg white separately, as egg whites are more likely to cause a reaction.) How to introduce the top allergenic foods to babies:Introduce each allergenic food one at a time (so not peanut butter on top of wheat bread), at the beginning of your baby’s longest awake period to monitor for reactions (so not just before a nap).Don’t offer too much too soon. Begin with a small taste to start, wait 10 minutes for an immediate reaction, then offer more (no more than 2 tsp).Wait 4 full days to monitor for a delayed reaction.Repeat these steps with the same food, for a total of 3 introductions. Move onto the next allergenic food.Low-risk foodsOther low-risk foods can be introduced at a quicker pace or in combination with other foods. I also recommend that your baby’s VERY first introduction to solid food be done with a low-risk food, not one of the top 8 allergenic foods. While early exposure to allergens is important, you want your baby’s very first bite to be as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.What to watch for?Again, remember that the course of action you should take is dependent on when the reaction occurs:What to do if your baby has an allergic reaction?Children are considered to be at a particularly high-risk for developing food allergies if they have: a family history of food allergies, moderate to severe eczema, and/or asthma.Don’t assume that your baby is ‘in the clear’ once they’ve been introduced to a certain food without reacting to it. It often takes a few introductions before symptoms are detectable, as reactions can worsen with each subsequent feeding.What to do if your baby is having an allergic reaction:Stop the meal, separate them from the food.Wipe their hands & face.Stay with them & monitor for swelling +/or lethargy. Depending on the severity, give a baby-friendly antihistamine such as liquid Benadryl.If symptoms are mild/moderate: contact your healthcare provider.If symptoms are severe: call 911 (or your local emergency medical responder).⠀Will your baby have allergies forever? Children can outgrow their allergies as their body & immune system matures.Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish generally persist lifelong. Only 10 – 20% of children who have these allergies will outgrow them.Many outgrow allergies to milk, egg, wheat, or soy by their first birthday, but they can also persist until they are between 5-9 yrs. However, even these allergies tend to be resolving less frequently than in previous decades. What to do if your baby has a food sensitivity or eczema?Food sensitivities and eczema are caused by the same thing… something known as ‘leaky gut’.The intestine acts as a barrier, keeping undigested food particles inside the digestive tract, but those with leaky gut have tiny gaps between the cells of their intestinal lining. This allows food particles from inside the intestines to ‘leak’ through the gut lining into the bloodstream, which can cause a variety of symptoms, commonly including eczema.Topical creams may help reduce the external symptoms of eczema, but they’re only a Band-aid solution to cover the symptoms — meaning they don’t get to the ‘root cause’. Nothing will help more than healing holistically from the inside out. Supporting your baby’s gut is the key component in resolving their food sensitivities and eczema, because the healthier a baby’s gut is, the better their digestion and immune system will function.The food sensitivities & eczema protocol This is a very condensed version of the OBN gut support protocol. It’s helped so many little ones, including my own!1. Identify trigger foods, via an elimination dietEliminate potential trigger foods 3-4+ weeks. 2. Build the microbiome Probiotics: Especially strains that don’t contribute to histamine. I like Infant Probiotic by Smidge (previously called GutPro Infant Probiotic by Corganics).Prebiotics: Food for beneficial bacteria. I like ProBiota Immune by Seeking Health.Fermented foods: If there is no histamine intolerance.3. Strengthen the gut Glutamine: Key amino acid for preventing inflammation in the gut & repairing leaky gut. Foods rich in glutamine, such as bone broth, animal protein (especially organ meats), and sauerkraut (if there is no histamine intolerance). Collagen powder: The main structural protein that makes up the connective tissue in the intestinal tract, helping to repair its protective lining.4. Support the immune systemReduce exposure to toxins wherever possible (household products).Cod liver oil: Reduce inflammation in the body while supporting both gut and immune health.Anti-inflammatory & nutrient-dense foods: Helps balance the immune system and can calm inflammation in eczema/the gut.Sufficient sleep & sunshine: Strengthens the immune system.5. External cream for eczemaDoesn’t address the ‘root cause’ but can offer relief. I’ve seen the best results with pharmaceutical-grade lanolin.After a bath:

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