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Food Intolerance in Infants

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Dec 25, 2017 and last reviewed on Nov 25, 2019   -  2 min read



Starting solids for the baby is an exciting time for the parents. But, it does not come without its share of panic moments and confusions. This article talks about foods to avoid in babies, precautions to take and providing the right nutrition specific to the baby's age group.

Food Intolerance in Infants

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

Although both allergy and intolerance are thought to be the same thing, they are entirely different. While an allergy is an immune reaction to a protein found in a particular food, intolerance occurs due to the lack or deficiency of digestive enzymes required to break down a specific type of food. In short, while one is an immunological condition, the other is a digestive condition. For example, in children with lactose intolerance, there is a deficiency of the enzyme lactase which is required to digest lactose, a substance present in dairy products.

Symptoms of Food Sensitivity in Infants

If your baby happens to eat foods that he/ she is intolerant to, they are likely to react badly to it, and the severity is based on the quantity had. Although some babies can digest minor quantities of the food in question, few kids react even to very tiny amounts of the food. Also, the symptoms can show up anywhere between half an hour to two hours.

While food allergy has specific symptoms such as:

  • Hives
  • Skin rashes
  • Swelling of the tongue or lips
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting

Intolerance is often characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and excessive burps. It is best to use a method of trial and error to find out how much of it your baby can handle, if at all. As mentioned, sometimes some kids are able to tolerate small quantities quite well.

Will Mom’s Diet Affect Babies?

There has not been enough research to prove that what moms eat affect babies directly. But, many moms have indeed noticed a connection between some foods they ate and the intensity of discomfort and crying seen in the baby.

So, in case you feel your baby may have some food allergies or sensitivities, it is recommended to maintain a journal of the foods you ate and the baby's symptoms. This will give you a fair idea of what might be causing the response.

Although it is not possible to treat this intolerance, the discomfort can be eliminated by the mom avoiding the food that is causing the response, if breastfeeding. And in case of babies who have started solids, you can entirely avoid giving those foods to the baby.

If you feel the baby is missing out on some vital nutrient due to skipping a particular food item, you can discuss with their pediatrician or a nutritionist on what would be a good substitute or if a supplement tonic might be necessary.

Foods Not to Give Babies

It is advised to strictly restrict babies from trying these foods until they turn one:

  • Cow's milk
  • Whole eggs
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Some types of fish
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Any food or cereal that might be a choking hazard

Early Nutrition in an Infant

From 0 to 6 months: At this stage, your baby's digestive system is still developing. It is the age to exclusively breastfeed, or in case of insufficient supply or inability to feed, you may supplement with infant formula milk.

From 6 months to 1 year: This is the time to introduce complementary feeding to meet the demands of the growing baby. It is suggested to introduce one new food every week from six months onwards (and look for adverse reactions). This way you will know what suits your baby and what does not.

From 1 year onwards: At this age, the baby is ready to eat most foods we eat, but in smaller portions. The significant calories now come from solids while breastmilk (or formula) is considered the supplement. You can choose to breastfeed for as long as mutually desired but ensure solids form the basis of nutrition.

For more information consult a paediatrician online -->


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Last reviewed at:
25 Nov 2019  -  2 min read



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