By Health Promotion Board in collaboration with Dr. Yvonne Ng, Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, National University Hospital.

Introducing new food to your child can be exciting. However, like many parents, you may be concerned about food allergies.

It’s estimated that less than 1 in 20 of children younger than 12 years old have food allergy.

Common food allergies include:

  • Shellfish (usually lobster, prawn, and crab)—this is the most common food allergen in Singapore.
  • Eggs
  • Cow’s milk
  • Peanuts and other tree nuts
  • Grains such as wheat, oat, and barley
  • Soy
  • Fish

Related: Baby's First Food Journey

Signs of Allergic Reaction and What to Do

Most food allergies in children are mild. Most common reaction is red, itchy rashes commonly known as hives. They can appear immediately after the food comes into contact with the mouth or skin, or even after a few minutes or hours. Other symptoms of food intolerance can include diarrhoea and vomiting.

If you suspect your child has an allergic reaction, please consult your doctor for advice. In the meantime, avoid the food that caused the reaction.  

Big Red Flag

Food allergies can be life threatening (anaphylaxis reaction). 
Call 995 for an ambulance immediately your child: 
  • Starts gasping for air
  • Has noisy breathing (also known as wheezing)
  • Looks pale or bluish 
  • Develops swelling around his eyes, lips or tongue 

Related: When Allergies Occur

Can I Prevent My Baby from Having Food Allergies?

Here are some things you can do to minimise the risk of allergic reactions:

  1. Talk to your doctor for the latest information on allergy prevention.
  2. Breastfeed your baby—breastfeeding can help reduce the possibility of food allergies.
  3. Start your baby on weaning foods around 6 months of age. Introduce new foods one at a time, in small amounts. This helps you pinpoint the cause of your child’s allergy quickly if he does have an allergic reaction.

Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides to give your baby a healthy start.

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  1. Alison Joanne Lee, MBBS, MMed (Paeds) and Lynette Pei-Chi Shek, MBBS, MRCP. (2014 May). Food allergy in Singapore: opening a new chapter. Singapore Med J, 55(5): 244–247,doi: 10.11622/smedj.2014065. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291979/