Does it feel like your baby is chronically sick? Are they suffering from a never-ending loop of ear infections? Are they a poor sleeper? Does it seem like their tummy is always upset? Do they get a skin rash at the drop of a hat? Are they generally cranky? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there is a very real possibility that your baby may be suffering from allergies.
The good news is that most allergies are not serious and can easily be treated. The bad news is that it may require borderline detective work on your part to pinpoint what is behind your baby’s allergies in order to get them the help they need.
Before you get started solving any possible allergy-related mysteries or making allergist appointments, take a look at the top 10 signs that may indicate your baby is suffering from an allergy.
10 Runny or Stuffy Nose
If your baby often suffers from a runny or stuffy nose, this can be the result of a chronic cold or due to allergies. Unfortunately, it may require some super sleuthing on your part to figure out which one it is. While most colds occur during the winter months, a baby suffering from indoor allergies will most likely have symptoms all year long. Also, if the nasal issues present along with a fever and thick, greenish-yellow mucus and disappear in a week or so, it’s probably just a cold.
However, if the nasal discharge is thin and watery, this may be indicative of an allergy. Other clues to be on the lookout for include mouth-breathing (most babies tend to nose breathe) and a lot of sneezing.
9 Coughing and Wheezing
Coughing is how the human body best clears its airways of phlegm, mucus dripping down the back of the throat, or a piece of food. While a wet cough usually signifies a respiratory illness and/or bacterial infection, a dry cough can convey a cold or allergy.
If your baby is prone to contracting respiratory viruses and has trouble getting rid of coughs and colds and often suffers a dry, hacking cough, there is the possibility that your baby is suffering from allergies. You may want to talk to your baby’s healthcare provider about your suspicions and look into having allergy testing done. Remember, do not administer any over-the-counter medications to your baby unless cleared first by your child’s healthcare provider.
8 Pink or Red Eyes
Conjunctivitis or what is more commonly referred to as “pink eye” is a condition caused by both allergies and viruses. In either case, your baby’s affected eyes appear red with a lot of discharge. This may result in your baby waking up in the morning with their eyes crusted shut. It will be up to a medical professional to diagnose whether your baby’s eye issues are due to a virus or allergies.
If pink eye is due to a viral or bacterial infection, it will be highly contagious and can be spread by coughing, sneezing and through direct contact with the infected eye. With an allergy-related pink eye, generally, both eyes will be affected, but it is not contagious. If your baby is suffering from an allergy, their eyes may be itchy, appear to be watery and they may also have a runny or stuffy nose. This allergic reaction is often accompanied by light sensitivity as well as a burning sensation in the affected eye.
Acute or chronic allergy-related pink eye is very common and most often occurs in response to environmental allergens such as pollen or mold spores. If your baby is suffering from the acute form, you will notice it mainly occurs during allergy season. Your baby may experience swollen eyelids, itchy and burning eyes and a runny nose. But these symptoms are short-lived. The chronic form is less common and can occur year-round. Most often it is in response to allergens such as food, dust, animal dander, chemical scents, medication, and/or eye drops.
It is nearly impossible to prevent allergy-related pink eye completely. However, in order to provide your baby with some relief, the best thing you can do is learn to recognize the triggers and do your best to limit your baby’s exposure to them. When pollen is excessive, keep your windows shut, dust your home often, and keep it a scent-free zone. Do what you can to keep your baby from rubbing or scratching at their eyes. The application of cool compresses can often help relieve itchiness and irritation.
And remember, do not give your baby any sort of medication to combat pink eye unless prescribed by your baby’s healthcare provider.
7 Skin Rashes
When it comes to your baby and skin rashes, don’t panic. Because infant skin is sensitive, it is very common for babies to have rashes from time to time. Most rashes (including infant acne) are generally gone by the time your baby reaches two or three months of age.
That said, some rashes can signify allergies to come. One of the more common allergic rashes in babies and young children is eczema. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, refers to red and scaly patches that can often be found on a baby’s cheek, arms, legs, and torso. The rash can appear to be oozing or sometimes dry and flaky. As children grow, eczema usually appears as dry, itchy patches on the skin of the neck, wrists, and ankles and in the creases of knees and elbows.
While skin rashes may signify a sensitivity or allergy to soap, laundry detergent or various materials that a baby is wearing, it is usually not indicative of anything serious. In most cases, as long as your baby is in general good health and not presenting with any other symptoms, there is nothing for you to worry about. Just keep an eye on the rash and see if it clears up on its own within a few days. If the rash is persistent or worsens, it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional about possible causes and courses of treatment.
6 Allergy-Related Hives
While hives as an allergic reaction in babies are not that common, they can still occur. These raised, circular welts will appear much smaller on a baby than what you’d find on an older child or adult. They may appear as a reaction to medicines, foods, viral infections, insect bites or stings. The rash can move around areas of your baby’s body and may even last up to four days before going away. If you notice your baby’s hives are localized, this may indicate direct skin contact with a substance that is an allergen such as a plant, food or pollen.
If you believe you know the cause of the hives and that it is due to exposure to a new product or food, then take steps to eliminate this substance from your baby’s environment. If it’s due to a new medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you stop administering it to your baby. In the meantime, discourage your baby from scratching which can lead to infection by administering cool compresses or give your baby a cool bath before gently patting them dry.
Remember, do not take action against hives or any rash by giving your baby over-the-counter medications before speaking to their healthcare provider and receiving the okay.
5 Stomach Upset
If you notice your baby experiencing stomach issues such as upset tummy, gas, vomiting and diarrhea, it may be time for you to don your detective hat once again. Both viruses and allergies can result in these particular symptoms.
If your baby has a food allergy, this will result in their body treating the food in question as an invader on which their immune system will launch an attack. Common symptoms of a food allergy include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain as well as a bloody stool.
If you consistently notice symptoms within two hours of your baby eating a specific food, talk with your baby’s healthcare provider about having them tested for food allergies. Keep in mind that there is a difference between having a food allergy and a food sensitivity. A food sensitivity is typically less severe but may have many of the same symptoms as a food allergy.
Another noteworthy item to keep in mind is that when stomach upset occurs due to allergies, food is not always the culprit. Children who suffer a variety of environmental allergies (to pollen or grass, etc.) can experience stomach symptoms due to the excessive amounts of phlegm and mucus their body is producing and that they are swallowing.
4 Exposure to Airborne Triggers
When it comes to allergic reactions, you’d be surprised at some of the unlikely culprits that wreak havoc on allergy sufferers. If you are already aware of allergies running in your family or if you have suspicions about your baby being susceptible, then be on the lookout for the most obvious offenders.
The most common culprits for allergies resulting in nasal issues include:
- Dust mites - tiny organisms living on human flakes of skin. Almost 85% of people suffering from allergies are allergic to dust mites
- Animal dander - little white flakes made up of skin and hair that is shed by animals
- Pollen - most likely from trees, grass, and weeds
- Mold - typically, allergy-causing mold can be found in damp areas of a house like in the basement or bathroom. It can also be found outdoors in humid climates
- Feathers/down - found as filling in some blankets and pillows
You should note that allergens found in cow’s milk, various foods, and medications can also lead to nasal issues.
While babies and children are rarely allergic to tobacco smoke, being exposed to it can definitely exacerbate any allergies they already have. It is safest to keep your home smoke-free and limit your baby’s exposure to tobacco smoke in general.
3 Sleep Trouble
When your baby is a fussy sleeper, allergies as a potential cause may be the last thing on your mind. Often, new parents will bend over backward, ensuring their baby is changed, fed, and comfortable in the hopes that they sleep soundly through the night. And if nothing seems to work, the fussiness is often chalked up to colic, gas or teething.
If you’ve tried everything to help your baby get a solid sleep, but nothing’s working and there doesn’t seem to be an explanation, then talk to your baby’s healthcare provider about the possibility of it being allergy-related.
A baby suffering from allergies is often uncomfortable due to chronic congestion, stomach pains, and itchiness. And once they are down for the night and there are no longer any distractions for them to focus on, their discomfort keeps them awake.
Food allergies can often result in poor sleeping in children as well. You may assume that if your baby eats a food they are allergic to there will be an immediate reaction such as a rash or facial swelling. But this is not always the case. Often a food allergy will manifest itself by making your baby seem sluggish and unfocused. It can occur hours after they have ingested the food in question. It can also result in gas and indigestion which would definitely affect a baby’s sleeping.
2 Ingestion of Certain Foods
Especially if allergies run rampant within your family, there are many foods which experts recommend introducing after your baby has turned one. Certain foods are allergy-triggering and it is best to introduce them into your baby’s diet slowly so that you can gauge any possible reaction.
Allergy-related foods include, but are not limited to, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, foods containing gluten, soybeans, and seafood like fish and shellfish. Also, if you or your partner have specific food allergies, it is best to be careful when introducing your baby to these potential allergy triggers as well.
Some babies experience sensitivity to cow’s milk when it is first introduced into their diet as well. This does not necessarily mean they have an allergy or a dairy intolerance. Try eliminating it from their diet and waiting a while before re-introducing.
1 Ear Issues
When allergies come to mind, most people automatically think of skin rashes, swelling, sneezing, and even coughing. Rarely, do ear issues come to mind in relation to allergy symptoms. However, allergies can often be the culprit behind earaches, itching in the ears, chronic ear infections, dizziness, and even impaired hearing. Food allergies can also result in chronic ear infections in babies and young children.
Allergy-related ear trouble primarily affects the middle ear by creating a build-up of fluid. The middle ear has a drainage tube and if it becomes blocked due to excess mucus or because of swelling, the resulting pressure and fluid can result in earaches, infections, and stuffiness within the ear as well as diminished hearing in some extreme cases.