How do I know if my child has a food allergy?

A food allergy is extremely frightening when starting to feed your child, especially when nut allergies, anaphylaxis shock, epi pens and lactose intolerant children seem to be on the rise across Australia. We asked expert in children’s food allergies and intolerances, Associate Professor Katie Allen, Royal Children’s Hospital Paediatric Gastroenterologist/Allergist to share what to look out for when it comes to food allergies and intolerances.

With young children starting food, Professor Allen says food allergy signs are either Immediate (within a few minutes of eating particular food):

  • Rash around the mouth
  • Hives appear that look like mosquito bites
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling


Delayed (after a few hours):

  • tummy pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea

If your child has any of these reactions, seek immediate medical help.

Once an allergic reaction has been diagnosed, your child will be referred to a medical practitioner specialising in food allergies, to be tested for allergies and intolerances and advised accordingly on treatment and what foods to avoid.

When introducing baby to a new food, introduce it one food at a time, Professor Katie Allen recommends:

  • go low (small portions)
  • go slow (a new food one at a time)
  • food allergy will be known within a minute of eating
  • offer a healthy, wide and varied diet

Professor Allen says 80% of children will grow out of a cow/egg/milk allergy but only 20% will grow out of a shellfish or nut allergy.

Seek advise for suspected food allergies or intolerances from your doctor who can refer you to a medical practitioner specialising in allergies and nutrition – Professor Allen advises that it is more dangerous to cut out whole food groups for growing children if you don’t actually know they are allergic or intolerant to a particular food – it is important to be properly tested and diagnosed.

For more information on children’s allergies and medical advise
Disclaimer:  Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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