In the last few months of pregnancy, antibodies from the mother are passed on to the unborn baby through the placenta. It is referred to as “passive immunity”, but this immunity does not last long – only a few weeks or months after the baby is born. As a result a baby needs to build up it’s own immunity.
The thick, yellowish milk produced for the first couple of days following childbirth is rich in antibodies. As well, many babies start to get immunizations at two months old to protect their immune systems. Still, baby will get sick at some point. In most cases, a fever and runny nose are not unusual and can actually help build up a child’s immune system in the long run. However, parents often mistake symptoms like runny nose, upset stomach or crankiness for a cold when in fact it can be a sign of an allergy.
It is true that these symptoms, as well as a rash or fever can be the result of a cold or other simple, passing sickness, but in some situations the cause is an allergic reaction that needs to be addressed.
So how do you know if your baby has a cold or could be suffering from an allergic reaction? Well, you won’t know for certain until you have him or her checked out by a doctor, but there are some signs that may point in the direction of an allergy verses a common cold.
Here are 15 signs that baby could be experiencing an allergy.
This is common in babies at various stages of their development, but especially in the first couple of months. Sometimes poop will have a watery consistency and the bowel movements will occur more frequently. However when your baby gets true diarrhea you will know it. Most medical experts define diarrhea as an average of two to four times per day of watery poop for more than five to seven days. There could be blood in the stool. Many parents panic when they see this and while it can be shocking, it doesn’t mean baby is dying. It could mean that he or she has a milk allergy. About three percent of kids are allergic to milk proteins that are found in dairy products, including formulas. Breastfed babies can develop allergies to milk proteins in the dairy products that their mothers consume. Getting baby to the doctor for an assessment can help ease your mind. Some babies get diarrhea due to a viral infection yet you won’t know for certain unless you get your baby examined.
Babies often spit up pieces of food. Indigestion, bumpy car rides or being bounced right after eating can cause a baby to vomit. In some cases, a long bout of crying or coughing can lead to reflex, which in turn causes food to makes its way up the baby’s esophogus to the point where he or she throws up. When a baby is vomiting outside of normal mealtime or when he or she is perfectly calm, you should address the issue with a physician. Spitting up food or milk or difficulty swallowing can be a sign of an allergy. In cases where it is an allergic reaction, sometimes the vomiting can be accompanied by diarrhea, but not always. Vomiting can startle the baby and be upsetting for the mother, but it is important to understand that most babies do throw up and it may be nothing to worry about.
13 Skin Rash
Skin rashes are common in newborn babies. They can experience everything from eczema and baby acne to something called milia or heat rashes. About 10 percent of babies get eczema. Many people fear that eczema causes allergies, but research suggests it does not. However, if your baby has eczema, studies show that having this skin condition could increase your chances of a food allergy at some point in your life. Milia are tiny cysts that appear like a white bump on the nose and cheeks of babies. They are often mistaken for baby acne. Experts at Stanford School of Medicine report that babies are born with milia and that it usually goes away within a few months. If your baby has a rash that doesn’t look like the typical skin conditions that babies get then it might be an allergy of some sort. Baby could be reacting to a food allergy, but then again he or she could be allergic to the family pet, dust in the house, the laundry detergent you use to wash clothing and bedding, or something else in the environment of the house.
12 Extreme Irritability
All babies get irritable from time-to-time – some even cry non-stop. When a baby won’t stop crying this is called, colic. Sometimes, the crying is not colic at all. It can be related to an allergy. For instance, babies can develop gastrointestinal problems when they are allergic to a food. As a result, they are in pain so it is only natural that they are going to be irritable and prone to crying. In addition to crying, baby might pull his legs up to his tummy, have a bloated belly and/or pass a lot of gas. Some babies who show these signs are diagnosed with an allergy to cow’s milk. Once diagnosed by a qualified specialist, the mother and father are able to start managing the irritability and see changes for the better in the baby fairly quickly.
A baby’s intestines are not fully developed so this is why they seem to get a lot of gas and it is why we have to burp them after feeding. Gas pain is common in babies in the first three months while the intestines are maturing. You will notice another period between 6 and 12 months where baby will start becoming gassy again. This is due to the fact that during this period of time they are trying new foods. Keep in mind that babies are no different than adults, they can get gas when they consume certain types of vegetables so you may have to closely monitor what baby is eating to try to figure out what foods to avoid. If you eliminate certain veggies and baby still has gas, it may not be the veggies, it could be another food item and it might be an allergic reaction.
10 Low or No Weight Gain
Babies vary in shape and size so how much weight they gain can depend on many factors. Genetics can play a role, how much she is fed and whether she is fed breast milk or formula are factors. Typically, babies double their weight by around the sixth month mark and triple it by twelve months. When babies are not getting the right nutrition they are unable to grow. There could be a number of reasons that little Sara is not gaining weight and to a parent this can be very surprising. Even first-time mothers expect to see their babies’ progress in terms of weight. Slow weight gain or no weight gain can be an indication of an allergy as opposed to a serious illness. Many parents who have been in this position are amazed at how quickly their baby gains weight when an allergy is eliminated. If your baby isn’t gaining weight, you should see a doctor.
9 Respiratory Problems
More than 200 viruses can cause the common cold and your baby has to develop immunity to all of these viruses one at a time. The reality is that your baby would have to get a whole lot of colds to be immune to all cold viruses. A baby explores a lot as he/she grows and that means touching and licking everything so it is easy to pick up a cold virus. However, when a baby is wheezing and having a hard time breathing as they develop excess mucus in the nose and throat then it could be something other than a cold virus. For some babies these symptoms can be an allergic reaction. Respiratory problems in babies are often linked to a milk allergy, although other allergies could be the cause. It is important not to diagnose your baby on your own, but to get him/her to a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
8 Unusual Looking Eyes
As soon as baby is born she can see things about 20 to 35 cm away, such as your face when you are holding her. Babies will stare at people for long periods of time. Mom and Dad love to stare back at their babies and admire their eyes, but if baby has dark red or purple circles under the eyes it could be a sign of allergies. Doctors often refer to these dark circles under the eyes as, “allergic shiners”. The shiners are caused by blood pooling under the eyes when the nasal passage gets congested. When a baby’s eyes are red and watery it could also be an indication of an allergy of some kind. Sometimes a baby will rub or scratch his or her eyes because they are itchy and irritated. This can further aggravate the situation and lead to more discharge from the eyes. It’s unfortunate but these unusual looking eyes can make a baby look sad and it can also make baby very irritable.
7 Puffy or Swollen Eyes
Much like adults, babies can get puffiness around the eyes due to lack of sleep. Newborn babies up to 6 months old need about 16 to 20 hours of sleep per day. They normally wake every two to three hours to eat. At four months a lot of babies sleep ten to 12 months at night with just one or two feedings and a nap for three to five hours during the day. Life does not always run on schedule and that means baby can miss sleep or perhaps baby isn’t sleeping for another reason. When baby isn’t getting enough sleep he/she can get puffy or swollen eyes. This isn’t much different than when adults don’t get enough rest. If baby is getting an adequate amount of rest and has putty or swollen eyes it might be an allergic reaction. Dust, smoke or pet dander are common allergies for babies. In some cases, babies are allergic to mom’s perfume or dad’s cologne.
6 Constant Sneezing
Sneezing in infants is a normal reaction. Babies have a smaller nasal passage than adults and need to clear their noses more often because they get clogged more easily. They sneeze to get rid of smoke, dust and breast milk. Their little nasal passages get really irritated since they spend a lot of time leaning back and drinking milk. If your baby is sneezing a lot and has some of the other symptoms listed here, such as unusual looking eyes or respiratory problems, there is a chance that it could be allergies as opposed to a normal reaction to a clogged nasal passage. Paying close attention to when baby sneezes might help you pinpoint what is causing the response. If nothing stands out then make sure you discuss it with your doctor. He or she will likely be able to offer you a quick and easy solution to end the sneezing and thus make baby more comfortable.
5 Lip Swelling
It is of course common for school age kids to get swollen lips. It is normally due to falling while running, playing or being chased by other children. Apply a little ice and tender loving care and they are back to their usual pace of activity. When a baby's lips swell up it is a different situation. Unless the baby has bumped his mouth up against something, he or she is most likely experiencing an allergic reaction to something that has come in contact with the lips. If it is an allergy, there can be itching or tingling but of course baby can’t communicate this to you other than crying. The substance causing the allergic reaction can be food, creams, lip balm transferred from someone kissing the baby, or something transferred from the baby’s hands to the lip. It can be difficult to pinpoint. No matter what the irritant, it is important to seek medical help if your baby experiences swelling of the lips.
People of all ages, including babies can experience hives. They show up as welts or swollen, itchy areas on the skin. They are well defined, with pale, raised central areas that are surrounded by a red border. They can last for a few hours or for several days. It is also possible to have them for months. They can disappear from one area of the baby’s skin and then suddenly appear in another area. Hives appear when the body releases a chemical called “histamine”. There are many reasons that hives may surface, including an allergic reaction to food or medications. The most common foods are milk, eggs, nuts, and any food preservatives. Antibiotics can trigger hives, as well as other drugs. Pet allergies, and sometimes a sudden and drastic change in temperature can cause hives in babies. It is also worth considering that your baby could be allergic to certain insect bites. Bees and fire ants have been known to cause allergies in some babies and adults.
3 Skin Redness and Blisters
It is true that babies are prone to all sorts of rashes. In most cases those rashes can be easily treated with creams and ointments – either prescribed or over-the-counter options. If baby experiences red patches of skin with blisters this could be something a little more serious. One possibility is that your baby is allergic to the sun. This allergy, also called photosensitivity, is the immune system reacting to sunlight. The rash appears most often on the back of the hands, the outside of the arms and the lower legs. In severe cases the red rash also comes with blisters. Also, most parents are aware of the importance of putting sunscreen on babies but sometimes a baby can have an allergic reaction to sun blockers so it is important to choose a sunscreen that is chemical free. Consulting with your doctor is a good idea when it comes to choosing what’s best.
2 Constant Coughing
Babies cough for many different reasons and like adults they can either have a wet cough or a dry cough. In many cases a baby with a wet cough can signal a respiratory illness with a bacterial infection. A dry cough can mean that a baby has a cold, but sometimes that dry cough just won’t go away, making baby very tired and irritable. You know how exhausting it can be when you have a constant cough. There are cases where a dry cough in a baby can be due to allergies. If your baby has a cough that won’t go away no matter what you seem to do then seek medical advice.
1 Failure to Thrive
When babies come into the world, they are small and delicate so it is so amazing to see just how much energy they have. How often have you heard someone say, “I wish I could bottle some of that energy and drink it?” Seeing your baby thrive is the greatest feeling in the world even when you are exhausted yourself as a result of the late night feedings, diaper changes etc. Sadly, some babies fail to thrive. There can be many medical reasons why a baby lacks energy, but one potential reason for some babies is that they have a milk allergy and therefore are suffering from a lack of proper nutrition and dehydration. These babies lose their appetite and their energy level quickly diminishes. In these situations it is important to see a doctor right away. Proper nutrition is so important to many different bodily functions and to the healthy development of your baby.
Babies can be allergic to many different foods and environmental agents just like youth and adults can be. The most common allergies in babies and young kids are milk, eggs, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds. Statistics show that about seven percent of all newborns have some sort of allergy to milk. In many cases the allergic reaction can be so mild that it goes on for some time before the parent even realizes it.
Despite what many people think, if you have an allergy to a certain food or other substance, it does not mean that you will automatically pass that allergy on to your baby. Having said this, there is some evidence that suggests some families include more people with allergies than other families. Allergy researchers in the U.K report that children born into families where allergies exist tend to have a higher than average chance of getting allergies themselves. The experts estimate that about 50 percent of children from these families will go on to develop allergies.