Infants (aged one year or below) may suffer from allergies. They get them from the solid foods they eat (usually after six months), things they touch and grab (usually at four months), and even unseen particles they inhale inside your house or outdoors.
The problem is that when babies have allergic symptoms, it’s challenging to figure out what’s wrong since they can’t describe them, unlike older kids and adults. If you’re the same, here are tips on managing allergies in infants at home.
See a doctor and follow prescription (very important)
Medications containing antihistamines are among the most common treatments for allergic reactions. However, antihistamines aren’t recommended for children under the age of 2. They could be contraindicated in children under six and cause adverse effects, including sedation, dizziness, incoordination, respiratory depression, coma, and death.
Pediatricians can recommend alternatives to antihistamines. One example of this is the gentle and effective infant allergy medicine by Dr. Talbot’s. It temporarily relieves babies’ hay fever symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. It’s alcohol-free, dye-free, paraben-free, and FDA-approved, so rest assured it’s safe for your little ones.
But, of course, always consult your baby’s paediatrician before giving any oral or topical medications to treat any baby’s allergic reaction. Self-learning online helps, but it’s not enough. It’s always better to seek professional advice. Even after consultations and with prescriptions, read and understand the warning labels on any prescribed medicine thoroughly.
Safe, natural home remedies: hot or cold water
Applying hot and cold water is generally safe and recommended for most little ones. They can be used to treat eye allergy symptoms, such as red, itchy eyes, allergic rhinitis, and contact dermatitis.
For example, here are some most common and safe ways to use hot and cold water at home:
- To relieve itchy eyes, apply a cold compress in either a cold, wet washcloth or an ice pack wrapped in a towel over closed eyes, but only for a short time.
- To soothe sinus pressure, start by washing the face to remove any pollen or allergens attached to the skin, then put a warm compress on either the nose or forehead.
- To help clear congested sinuses, allow babies to breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or take them into a steam-filled bathroom. Steam inhalation is also an effective method to help loosen the mucus inside the chest, moisturise the nasal cavity, and prevent dried-up mucus from blocking the airway.
- To help relieve contact dermatitis, bathe the irritated skin with mild soap for babies and warm water. Apply a fragrance-free moisturiser or baby-friendly aloe vera gel if their skin is dry. Note that this is only a first-aid and temporary relief. Immediately see a doctor afterward.
Note that these hot and cold water home remedies only “temporarily” soothe “mild” allergic symptoms in babies. They should never be used to treat severe allergic reactions and for an extended period. If their symptoms persist and become worse, immediately seek medical help.
Diet adaptation and changes
When little ones start eating solid foods around after six months, introduce foods that may trigger an allergic reaction. This isn’t to put your baby in danger, but to determine and prevent severe and potentially fatal allergy symptoms, especially if you have a family history of allergies. Consult your general practitioner or health visitor if you’re unsure and hesitant.
Here’s the list of foods that may trigger allergies:
- Dairy products
- Gluten foods
- Nuts and peanuts
- Seafood, particularly shellfish (like mussels, clams, and oysters) and fishes
Additionally, here are some don’ts to remember when introducing these as part of your baby’s diet, just like any other foods.
- Don’t serve raw or lightly cooked shellfish, fish, and eggs, especially those without a red lion stamp. Raw seafood may contain harmful germs, while raw eggs may carry foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella. They may increase the risk of food poisoning.
- Don’t serve whole nuts, peanuts, and seeds to infants. They’re choking hazards to children under 4. Instead, serve them crushed or ground.
Although they’re potential allergens, introducing these foods as part of your baby’s diet is necessary for them to get proper nutrition and minimise the risk of allergy. Evidence has shown that delaying the introduction of these foods beyond 6–12 months will only increase the likelihood of developing an allergy to them.
Remember to give babies only a taste in very small amounts when introducing these foods, one at a time. If they’re allergic to them, they’ll quickly show reactions within a few minutes. Such symptoms include:
- Wheezing and coughing
- A runny or blocked nose
- Red, watery, itchy eyes
- A red, itchy rash
Although these allergic reactions are mild and can be relieved by applying hot or cold water, see a doctor as soon as possible. Take note of the food and symptoms. More importantly, don’t be tempted to experiment by introducing the food again or cutting it out, especially if it’s a major food like milk.
Doctors typically recommend diet changes if your baby has a food allergy. For example, they’ll suggest an elimination diet if a baby has a class IgE-mediated food allergy, where their immune system causes a symptom of one or more foods. They’ll likely prescribe EpiPen in case of an emergency.
While they may be common for others, allergies can be potentially dangerous to babies. As parents, family members, or caregivers, they may likely cause you anxiety, especially if you’re uncertain of the cause and remedy. However, know that you’re not alone. Always reach out to your healthcare provider and seek medical advice as soon as possible.
David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.