Food Allergies

We had a peanut allergy scare with our daughter, and the process to determine its severity was lengthy. Learning that your baby has a food allergy can be worrisome and stressful. But, using our guidelines below, we’ll show you how you can spot food allergies in your baby, and give you helpful, healthy alternatives to any allergenic.


When to Start Solids

Starting your baby on solid foods is so exciting! You’ll get to prepare tasty meals for your baby, and take delight in teaching them about healthy food. Your baby will be fascinated by the myriad of flavours, textures, shapes and sizes that food comes in. Babies love to taste, touch, smell — and even throw! — new food. It’s so fun to watch!

It can be tempting, then, to want to feed your baby solid food, perhaps before they are really ready. Maybe your baby has been eyeing your dinners, or  your baby might seem much hungrier and fussier than usual. You might also find that friends and family swear that your baby will start “sleeping through the night” if you fill their tummies with rice cereal.

But, all major health organizations, from Health Canada to the Dieticians of Canada to the World Health Organization recommend waiting until your baby is six months old to start on solids. From ages 0-6 months, the best food for your baby is breast milk or formula.

There are a few key reasons why it’s important to wait until the 6-month mark:

  1. Breast milk and formula are the most nutritious foods your baby can consume between the ages of 0-6 months. Both breast milk and formula are specifically designed to provide your baby with all the nutrients he needs.
  2. Solid food, no matter how watered down, can be hard to swallow. Your baby may not be physically developed enough to swallow food safely.
  3. Exposure to solids too early in life may cause health problems, such as allergies, eczema or even diabetes.

Once your baby nears the 6-month mark, you can look for signs of solids readiness:

  • she can sit up unassisted
  • her birth weight has doubled
  • she stops breast or formula feed on her own (turns her head away) to indicate she is full
  • she loses her tongue thrust reflex (that is, she doesn’t push food out of her mouth with her tongue)

Visit our recipe page for some yummy first food ideas!


The 3-Day Wait Rule

Once you’ve established that your baby is ready for solids, you can start trying out new foods. The 3-Day Wait Rule is an easy way to identify any potential food allergies your baby might have. It can also help you identify any foods that might not agree with your baby, causing symptoms such as tummy aches, fussiness or constipation.

The way the 3-Day Wait Rule works is simple: introduce one new food to your baby, and wait three days until you try something else. You can even make up a food schedule for your baby — for example, try new foods every Wednesday and Sunday. It may seem like a slow way to teach your baby about new foods, but eventually he’ll have tried everything you’d like him to.

Be sure to record every new food you try, along with the date. That way, if you need to ask your doctor about a suspected reaction, you’ll have your schedule ready to show.

Below is an example of a food introduction diary — it doesn’t need to be fancy!


Please note that some doctors are flexible on this wait rule, and might allow 1-4 days between trying new foods. Some believe that you don’t need to wait at all. But, if you use some type of wait rule, you’ll be able to rule out possible allergens without playing a guessing game.

Read this blog post on how one baby’s very mild peanut allergy was discovered.


Symptoms of Food Allergies

The seriousness of a food allergy can range from very mild to life threatening. Reactions can occur within minutes, hours, and in some cases days, hence the 3-Day Wait Rule.

The most common signs of a food allergy are hives (raised bumps or welts that appear on the skin), redness or a rash.

If you suspect your baby is having a severe allergic reaction to a food, call 911 or take him to your doctor or Emergency immediately. Seek medical advice for any other type of reaction, and stop giving your child the food your suspect he is reacting to.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction include:

Trouble breathing

Swelling in the face, mouth, throat and tongue

Pale blue colour of face and/or lips

Passing out, or feeling fait or weak

Trouble swallowing or speaking

Hoarse voice

Hives that are quickly spreading

Other signs of allergic reaction might include:


Stuffy or runny nose

Itchy, watery eyes

Vomiting, stomach cramps and/or diarrhea

Sudden diaper rash or skin rash


Foods to Avoid

Doctors and paediatric associations have been going back and forth on what foods are suitable to feed your baby right away, and what foods should be avoided. Many recent studies are finding that it might be more beneficial to introduce your baby to potentially allergenic foods, such as peanuts and egg whites, as soon as they are ready to start solids, rather than wait until your baby is 12+ months old.

Before you start on solids, you should always take your family’s history into consideration when starting your baby on new foods — for example, do egg, dairy, or peanut allergies run in the family? Be sure to talk to your doctor or paediatrician before introducing potentially allergenic foods to your baby and get the green light from an expert first.

The key foods that should be avoided until 12 months include:

  • Honey — honey contains botulism spores that can make your baby ill. Wait until your child is 12 months old before adding to food, spreading on toast or crackers, or putting on soothers. Don’t offer food that has honey in the ingredients, like cakes, cookies or graham crackers.
  • Unpasteurized cheese – these may contain harmful bacteria, which can cause your child to become very sick, or even die. Always choose cheese that is made from pasteurized milk.
  • Undercooked eggs – runny yolks or egg whites could cause food poisoning. Always make sure eggs are hard and cooked all the way through.
  • Sprouts – raw or lightly cooked sprouts (such as alfalfa, bean or broccoli sprouts) may contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Sprouts that have been thoroughly cooked in soup or stir fry are OK.
  • Cow’s milk – up until your child is 12 months old, you child only needs formula or breast milk.


Most Common Baby Food Allergies

According to, 90% of all food allergies are attributed to:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Some children can outgrow allergies, mainly to wheat, eggs, milk and soy, but rarely do they outgrow peanut, nut, fish and shellfish allergies. Your doctor can recommend allergy testing for all of the foods above, and can guide you though the process of reintroducing eggs, milk or soy to your little one later in life, should they be likely to grow out of their allergy.

Coping with an allergy doesn’t have to be daunting. There are many effective replacements of all of these foods that are just as nutritious and easy to work with as the allergy-inducing food.