Most parents are scared to feed their baby allergenic foods like peanuts or eggs because they’re afraid their little one is going to have a severe allergic reaction. But it’s actually not as scary as some parents might think, and it’s even safer to find out your baby has an allergy now than when they’re 2 or 3 years old. 

Here’s why. 

Anaphylaxis in babies doesn’t mean what you probably think it means, and it doesn’t look like what you are imagining. If I had known what anaphylaxis in babies really looked like, I would have been way less scared when introducing new foods to my younger son. 

Anaphylaxis means a reaction in 1 critical body system OR 2 non-critical body systems.

Critical body systems are your lungs and your heart. A drop in blood pressure, fainting, or trouble breathing (including coughing) are each anaphylaxis. 

Non-critical body systems are things like your skin and your stomach. Having a reaction involving 2 non-critical body systems, like hives WITH vomiting or diarrhea, is also anaphylaxis. 

A group of researchers looked at every child that was brought into a hospital for anaphylaxis, and they found something really surprising…

Babies under 1 year old almost never have breathing or heart rate reactions. When babies have allergic reactions, it looks like hives, redness around the mouth, and/or vomiting. 

anaphylaxis by ageWhy? Doctors think that younger children’s immune systems simply aren't strong enough yet to do that much harm. That’s why it’s safer to find out now rather than 2 years down the line.

To be clear, if a baby gets hives and vomits after eating a new food you should seek medical care in an urgent care or emergency room. But you most likely do not need to worry that your child will have trouble breathing.  

Remember that early and regular exposure to foods can prevent most food allergies so that you never have to deal with food allergies.