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)
  • Eggs - this is the most common food allergen for children in Singapore.
  • Cow’s milk
  • Peanuts and other tree nuts
  • Grains such as wheat, oat, and barley
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Sesame
  • Fish


Related: Baby's First Food Journey

Signs of Allergic Reaction and What to Do

Most allergic reactions are mild to moderate. Symptoms include itch in mouth, hives or welts (itchy, red bumpy rashes that looks like mosquito bites), swelling of the face, eyes or lips, abdominal pain and vomiting. This usually occur within minutes up to 2 hours after eating the food. It can also occur on touching the food, or rarely by inhalation. 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)
  • Coughs persistently and has a hoarse voice
  • Looks pale or bluish, sleepy or unconscious
  • Develops swelling on his tongue
  • Has difficulty swallowing or talking

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. Breastfeeding your baby 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. Introduce one common allergy causing food at each meal which helps pinpoint the cause of your child’s allergy quickly if he/she does have an allergic reaction.
  4. Introduce common allergy causing foods by 12 months of age as delayed introduction of common allergy causing foods has been shown to increase the chance of developing food allergies. 

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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