5 months old
Checking for Allergies
If you and/or your partner have any kind of allergies – whether it’s seasonal, food-derived or environmental – you might be worried that your little one will inherit them too, especially now that you’re starting the solid food phase. While allergies are passed down in the gene pool, it doesn’t necessarily mean your baby will share your sneezing fits or strawberry aversion. Plus, it could take months or years for an allergy to show up. If you have a family history of allergies, talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric allergy specialist.
If you’re worried about food allergies:
- Try to breastfeed for at least the first year and delay introducing cow’s milk for as long as you can.
- If you aren’t breastfeeding (or if you’re supplementing), ask your doctor about switching to a soy-based formula – although some babies can develop an allergy to soy. If your baby is intolerant to both cow’s milk and soy, ask your doctor about a protein-hydrolysate formula.
- Current recommendations from the World Health Organization and others say to wait to introduce solid foods until the six-month mark or later, especially with certain allergenic foods.
- When you do start solids, always introduce new foods one at a time, and don’t introduce another new food for at least a week. If you notice any kind of reaction to a new food – like a rash, gassiness or wheezing – wait and reintroduce it in a few weeks.
- Ask your doctor about which foods in particular you should hold off on. Foods like milk, eggs, nuts, wheat, shellfish, tomatoes and berries are thought to be more allergenic.
- Many baby’s reactions to certain foods are considered a “sensitivity,” not a full-blown allergy. And take heart, many any childhood allergies are outgrown in a few years.
If you suspect a nasal allergy, try and sort out the differences between an allergy and a cold, since most of the symptoms (runny nose, watery eyes, nasal congestion, etc.) are very similar. Understand that it might be something in his or her environment that’s causing these physical reactions, such as dust mites, animal hair or mold. Your baby might have a nasal allergy if:
- Your baby always seems to have a cold that lasts longer than 10 to 14 days
- You notice that your baby’s nose always seems to be stuffy, runny and/or itchy
- His or her mucous is clear rather than an infection-indicating green color
- Your baby’s eyes always seem to be itchy, watery and red, usually with dark under-eye circles
- He or she is always mouth breathing
- You notice a red rash that might be itchy and irritated
- Your baby seems to be more affected by the spring, summer and early fall, rather than the colder months that often trigger colds
If your baby does have an allergic reaction to something in his or her environment, there are certain things you can do:
- If you think that your baby might be allergic to your pet but can’t bear to give the family member away, try washing the dog or cat as often as you can with a special dander-reducing shampoo. Also, ban the culprit from your baby’s room.
- A dehumidifier can help if you’re concerned about mold growth, as can frequently cleaning with mold-killing disinfectants.
- One of the most common allergens is dust mites, which can be found all over the house – especially mattresses, blankets, pillows and rugs:
- Buy a special allergy-designed mattress cover instead of a vinyl wetness protector.
- Regularly wash your baby’s bedding (at least once a week) in extra hot water to kill any dust mites.
- Limit the amount of stuffed animals lingering around your baby’s room. As cute as they might be, stuffed animals are prime breeding ground. If your baby has a few favorites, wash them in hot water once a week or pop them in a hot dryer.
- Make sure to vacuum, dust and mop as often as you can, but not around your baby.
- Clean your heating ducts, furnace filters and air conditioner filters.
- Replacing carpets with hardwood floors is another option to further eliminate dust mites.
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