Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital
Local: 305-666-6511
Toll Free: 800-432-6837
My Kids Patient Portal
Advanced Search

Pediatric Center
In this section

Food allergies in infants and children

Care Guides

     Bookmark and Share

Allergy to cow's milk is particularly common in infants and young children. In addition to causing eczema, hives, and asthma, it can lead to colic and sleeplessness, and perhaps blood in the stool or poor growth. Infants are thought to be particularly susceptible to this allergic syndrome because their immune and digestive systems are immature. Milk allergy can develop within days to months of birth. Fortunately, most children outgrow cow's milk allergy by the age of 5 years old. It is important to let mothers who are breastfeeding know that, if they drink milk, the baby may be exposed to some of the milk proteins.

If your baby is on cows milk formula, your health care provider may suggest a change to soy formula or an elemental formula if possible. Elemental formulas are produced from processed proteins with supplements added (basically sugars and amino acids). There are few, if any, allergens within these materials.

Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 - 4 months may protect babies from developing wheezing and eczema for the first 2 years of life, especially if many people in the family have allergies and asthma. The protective effects later in life are not known. often Therefore, health experts often suggest that mothers feed their baby only breast milk for the first 3 - 4 months of life.

Delaying the introduction of solid foods until 6 months may or may not prevent food allergies. The American Academy of Pediatrics initially recommended you delay adding eggs to your child's diet until age 2, and peanuts, tree nuts, and fish until the child is 3 years old. However, these recommendations are being revised. It appears that infants with a low risk of developing allergies can have solid foods after 4 - 6 months of age. It is important to discuss individual feeding recommendations with your child's health care provider.

Care Guides

Read more about food allergies:

  • How allergic reactions work
  • Common food allergies
  • Food allergy or food intolerance?
  • Diagnosing food allergies
  • Treating food allergies
  • Controversial issues

Created by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Modified and updated by A.D.A.M., Inc. Image copyright A.D.A.M., Inc.


Greer FR, Sicherer SH, Burks AQ, et al. Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas. Pediatrics. Jan 1, 2008;121(1)183 -191.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial proces and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.