About 8% of children (1-18 years old) have a food allergy. The most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. The only treatment approach for food allergies is to avoid the food altogether.
When a Toddler is allergic to a food, such as cow’s milk, it must be removed from his diet. This means no milk or any food made with milk. Some Toddlers are allergic to more than one food allergen. This can make choosing foods to offer to your Toddler more challenging. Removing certain foods from his diet can raise the risk of him not getting enough nutrients. Thankfully, this can be prevented with careful planning and the help of a Registered Dietitian.
When your Toddler has food allergies, it’s important to plan for safe foods containing key nutrients for growth. The table below shows some of these key nutrients for Toddlers and gives ideas for other ways to get these nutrients into your child’s diet. Remember to prepare them in a way that is appropriate for your Toddler’s development.
|If you're avoiding...
||Make sure your toddler gets enough for...
||Try these instead...
||Fortified soymilk and alternative milks. Calcium fortified orange juice, tofu, salmon, kale, bok choy, broccoli, ready-to-eat cereals.
||Salmon, tuna, Vitamin D-fortified orange juice and milk alternatives like soymilk, ready-to-eat cereals, regular and Vitamin D-fortified eggs.
||Alternative milks, like almond and rice milk, may be too low in protein (and fat) for the Toddler. Check with your healthcare professional.
||Yogurt, milk and other dairy products, lean meats, beans, soy products.
|Peanuts and tree nuts
||Vitamin E and healthy fats
||Plant oils, sunflower seeds, ready-to-eat cereals, boiled spinach, avocado, broccoli.
||Egg, milk, cheese, yogurt, lean meats, beans, tofu, seeds.
||B vitamins, Magnesium
||Other wheat-free grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, teff, quinoa, fortified rice based cereals, enriched rice.
||Beef, poultry, tofu, lentils, beans, spinach, molasses.
||Beans, lean meats, shellfish, yogurt, milk.
Parents of Toddlers with food allergies should get nutritional counseling from a Registered Dietitian to help with meal planning, dining out, reading labels and vitamin or mineral supplements. The child’s growth should also be monitored regularly as children with an allergy to cow’s milk or multiple food allergies are at higher risk for growth problems.
The ingredient list on the food label is your best bet for determining foods that are safe for your child. If there isn’t a food label, you should ask the company who makes the food about ingredients directly. Since 2006, manufacturers have been required to list the top eight food allergens—milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish—on package labels in the ingredient statement. Manufacturers may add a qualifying statement on the product package warning you of the possibility that it may have come in contact with other allergens, such as “this product was made in a facility that also produces peanuts.” In this case, or when in doubt about any ingredient, avoid serving your Toddler the food, as there is a real risk for an allergic reaction. Discuss their diet with a Registered Dietitian if you have any questions on what foods are appropriate for your child to eat.