How to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
Is School Canteen Food Healthy?
Early Signs of Autism in Kids
Food & Health

How to Detect and Prevent Food Allergies in Babies

Photo credit: Danielle Macinnes on Unsplash

These days, babies seem to be increasingly vulnerable to gastrointestinal problems arising from the food they eat. Whilst there are many speculations on why this is so, as parents, we are often worried clueless. Often, paediatricians would recommend the “four day wait rule” when it comes to food allergies and introducing new foods to babies. Read on to find out if the “four day wait rule” is necessary and how to prevent and identify food allergies.

What is the Four Day Wait Rule (4DWR)?
The 4DWR is a system for introducing new solid foods for your baby to detect any possible reactions (i.e., food sensitivities and food allergies). Very simply, introduce new foods, one food at a time and at a space of four days apart.

For example:
Monday – Thursday: Avocadoes
Friday – Monday: Avocadoes + sweet potatoes

When you introduce new foods over a course of several days, you can better determine how your baby reacts to them.  

Is it necessary?
Not exactly; the 4DWR is designed more towards babies with family members who have histories of food allergies. That way you can find out if your baby has similar reactions to that specific food easily and more accurately. However, recent studies show that waiting to introduce allergenic foods might not have any impact on whether a child develops a food allergy. The use of the 4DWR is slowly growing to become outdated. Offering a wider variety of tastes and textures help excite the baby’s taste buds and he will learn to enjoy flavours of all types.

We say: the 4DWR will help slow down the patterns of introducing solid foods, allowing you to pinpoint any reactions or digestive issues early. Hence it is far safer method if you think your baby is prone to certain food allergies. Alternatively, there are allergy tests that can determine if the symptoms are cause by an allergy, so contact your pediatrician for more information.

When can I stop paying attention to the 4DWR?
For parents who have been conscientiously following the 4DWR, you might ask when can you stop paying attention to it. The answer is when your baby is around 9-10 months of age, you will have introduced a fair bit of foods and will then gain a good idea of what works for your baby. At this stage, it is safe to loosen up. As you loosen up, still do pay attention to any new foods your baby consumes, especially those that tend to incur allergy reactions.

What are some allergenic foods? 

  • Egg
  • Peanut
  • Milk (other than breast milk)
  • Tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, etc)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Cinnamon
  • Yeast

*Note: Wheat allergy and gluten intolerance are two different issues. The latter is very dangerous and it cannot be outgrown.

Signs of a potential allergic reaction to food:

  • Sudden loose, diarrhea stools and/or vomiting
  • Sudden rashes on the skin and/or bottom
  • Runny nose
  • Hives
  • Irritability/gassiness after new food
  • Swelling of the face, tongue or lips
  • Closure or tightening of throat

What time of the day is best to introduce new foods?
Most preferably in the morning or afternoon, so if there is any reaction, you can seek help before it is too late in the day. It will disrupt as little of the baby’s precious sleeping routine too.

How to prevent food allergies?
Basic foods like, rice, oat cereal, fruits and vegetables should be introduced when babies are between four to six months.

The best way to prevent food allergies answered by recent studies is to introduce new foods as early as possible rather than delaying them. Gradual and early exposure to a variety of food can prevent food allergies rather than cause them. Allergenic foods like eggs and cow’s milk are recommended to be taken at home rather than at daycares or restaurants.

All in all, detecting food allergies in babies can be slightly dangerous and difficult. Tread with caution, but do not let that limit your food creations too. Moreover, most babies tend to outgrow their allergies with time. It’s best to seek help from your paediatrician if you have any queries.

RELATED: 5 Diet Tips To Help Prevent Eczema In Children
RELATED: How To Feed a Fussy Eater

Like us on Singapore’s Child Facebook page and follow us on Instagram @SingaporesChild for more parenting tips and lifestyle activities for the whole family.