Fergus began eating solid foods when he was a little more than six months old. Avocado and banana, two mushy and seemingly benign foods, triggered hives. We quickly took him to an allergist who tested and diagnosed him with serious allergies to dairy, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame seeds. We left the office with a prescription for an EpiPen, a sample of hypoallergenic baby formula, and a long list of foods to avoid.
Fortunately, Fergus had been exclusively breastfed, so we avoided a potentially dangerous reaction to regular baby formula. We’ve been able to introduce foods slowly and methodically, making it easier to pinpoint new allergens (he’s allergic to winter squash).
I’m still nursing, and eliminating his allergens from my diet has had two benefits. Fergus’ eczema has almost entirely disappeared, and I’m learning to navigate the food world in advance of Fergus ever eating in restaurants, school cafeterias, or friends’ kitchens. This practice period is teaching me how to read labels, ask the right questions, and stretch my imagination. Did you know that some olive oil is adulterated with hazelnut oil? That some waiters don’t know that cheese is a dairy product? That contact with a contaminated surface can trigger a reaction? The other day, Fergus broke out in hives when we took him to a local bakery, even though he didn’t eat anything or directly touch any food.
If you have a child with food allergies, none of this is news. If you don’t, you probably know someone who will appreciate your becoming better informed. Check out these resources.