How to prevent food allergies in children – tips for parents


Like it or not, allergies are a fact of life. Around 1 in 4 people are affected by some form of allergy, and about half of those are children. An allergy differs from an intolerance, although the symptoms can be similar.

Some allergies including food allergies have a genetic link. This means that the tendency to have an allergy can be passed down from parent to child. If anyone in your immediate family has an allergic condition such as asthma, eczema, hay fever, or food allergies, your child is more likely to have an allergy, too.

Of course, allergies aren't the end of the world, and your little one may very well not develop any at all —but if there is a history of allergies in the family, it makes sense to take a bit of extra care of their diet.

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The information included in this material is for informational purposes only. Always seek medical advice for any concerns about health and nutrition.

What are the most common food allergies?

The most common food allergies include:

  • Soy allergy: Allergic reactions to soy products can occur, and it's an allergen found in many processed foods and sauces.
  • Egg allergy: Eggs are another common allergen, particularly the proteins found in egg whites. Egg allergies are common in children but are often outgrown.
  • Peanut allergy: Peanut allergies are typically lifelong and can cause severe reactions. Even trace amounts of peanuts can trigger an allergic response.
  • Tree nuts allergy: This includes allergies to various tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and others. Tree nut allergies are also typically lifelong.
  • Wheat allergy: People with a wheat allergy react to proteins in wheat, such as gluten. It's distinct from celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten.
  • Fish allergy: Some individuals are allergic to fish, and this includes both freshwater and saltwater fish like salmon, tuna, and cod.
  • Shellfish allergy: Shellfish allergies can be divided into two categories: crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster) and mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters). People can be allergic to one or both.
  • Sesame allergy: Sesame allergies have been on the rise in recent years, with some individuals experiencing symptoms ranging from mild skin rashes to more severe reactions.
  • Milk allergy: An allergy to cow's milk is one of the most common food allergies, especially in children. People with this allergy react to proteins found in milk, such as casein and whey.

The possibility of your child becoming allergic might be a bit nerve-wracking at times, but having the right information on hand should help you feel more confident about how you can spot a food allergy. If you suspect your child is allergic to a certain food, make a note of any symptoms and consult your doctor right away before you offer that food again.

Triggers and symptoms

Being at risk of allergy doesn’t automatically mean your child will develop an allergy. The best protection against it is exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4-6 months so that the delicate immune system will not be irritated by foreign proteins – from weaning food, for example.

Explore our comprehensive guide on food allergies and intolerances to gain further insights and expert tips. Click this article Allergy or Intolerance in children – How to spot the difference to learn more!

Allergens in certain foods are the primary triggers. If you are concerned about possible allergies, it's best to avoid foods that are considered high allergy risk: egg, wheat, mustard, sesame, celery, fish and shellfish. It is best to consult your pediatrician when it comes to introducing certain foods that your child needs for his/her natural growth and development.

Some safer, low-allergy-risk foods include potatoes, starchy vegetables, rice, and soft fruits. These all have a low risk of triggering an allergy.

Another good tip (especially once you start to introduce some of the high allergy-risk foods) is to introduce each new food on its own, and only add a new food every other day so that you can watch carefully for any signs of an allergy. This way, if you see any symptoms, you can be fairly sure which food is the culprit! Once you're sure a food is safe, you can start mixing different foods.

The immune system thinks the protein in the food is harmful and reacts to it, causing symptoms such as;

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin reactions (itching, hives, anaphylaxis, among others)

How to introduce food to your child with allergy risks?

When introducing foods to your child with a heightened risk of allergies, it's important to approach this process with caution. If the symptoms were obviously related to one specific food (for example, an egg) then it may be wise to avoid giving your child an egg. 

Initiate with single-ingredient, non-allergenic foods, introducing one new food at a time and waiting several days before incorporating another. Observe your child for any signs of allergic reactions, such as hives, rashes, or respiratory distress. Consult with your doctor, who can provide personalized guidance on the introduction of common allergenic foods.


[1] Nutrition, C. for F.S. and A. (2021). Food Allergies: What You Need to Know. FDA. [online] Available at: 

[2] Arnarson, A. (2021). Milk 101. [online] Healthline. Available at:

[3] Philadelphia, T.C.H. of (2014). Breastfeeding a Baby With Food Allergies. [online] Available at:

[4] Australia, H. (2023). How to introduce allergy foods. [online] Available at:



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