Introducing Solids to My Baby: Food Allergy or Not?
I was so excited to introduce solids to my son at 6-months. I prepared oatmeal and mashed banana for breakfast, and puréed peas for lunch, pouring a lot of love into it. It was finally time to start introducing real food.
You can imagine my confusion and shock when his face and neck broke out in red patches later that day.
I hadn’t fed him any of the “top 9 allergens”. I did not see any welts that could be hives. Was he allergic to something I’d given him to eat? Was this just his eczema? Do I give Benadryl?
I just didn’t know. Then.
Now I do.
Luckily it was just an eczema flare, something that he would experience often after eating a new food he wasn’t necessarily allergic to.
Between eczema flares and allergic reactions, introducing solids was a bit traumatic. Every time I introduced a new food, I braced myself and tried to fight back tears (not always succeeding), fearing a new food would trigger a severe allergic reaction.
When I look back at myself during that time, I see a scared, first time mom, trying to find her footing.
Now, I see a mom — a food allergy mom — who is more comfortable and confident. I see a mom who does not always know what she’s doing, but is doing the very best she can. It is a little less scary now that we know more about our son's eczema triggers and have a better handle on his food allergies.
For any parents going through this, just know that the only way out is through it, and you will get through it.
I have a few suggestions to offer in hopes of making it easier:
1. Follow your pediatrician’s guidance for introducing solids to your baby.
The guidelines for introducing solids to infants have evolved over the last few years. Your pediatrician will be your best guide for safely introducing solid foods — the right foods, in the right amounts, at the right time.
2. Know the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
This is an important one (just in case).
3. It’s ok to cry.
It’s ok to grieve that your child has food allergies/sensitivities. But then dig deep and push forward to figure it out so you can live your life to the fullest, with more joy and less fear.
4. Find your support network.
The NNMG Food Allergy Family Forum Facebook group has been an incredible resource for me. The group has connected me to experienced and kind moms who have been through a lot on the atopic disease front. The group has been a source of comfort, reassurance and valuable experience-based information.
I have also found help from other FB groups like Parents of Children with Multiple Food Allergies and the Baby and Childhood Eczema Support Group. It can take a little legwork to find support groups, but you'll be glad you did.
About the Author: Rachel lives in Los Angeles with her one-year-old son, Marshall, and her husband, Ken. Aside from being a mom and wife, Rachel teaches prenatal and postpartum fitness classes where she tries to foster a support system for soon-to-be and new moms in LA. Rachel shares her experiences as a food allergy mom on Instagram @allergyfreewannabe. Follow her!
Images: Rachel Esman