Having an adverse reaction to a food is generally categorised as either an allergy or an intolerance, both of which are affecting more children than ever before. Here’s our guide to understanding the difference, and common allergenic foods to look out for.

A food intolerance is caused by a difficulty digesting a culprit food, which results in a physical reaction that usually follows a few hours, or even days, later.

A food allergy involves a near-immediate response and can vary in severity. It’s not uncommon for children to be allergic to more than one food, but the good news is that most will grow out of an egg or milk allergy before school, although allergies to nuts and seafood tend to persist.

Common allergenic foods:

- Cow’s milk

- Eggs

- Foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley or rye

- Nuts (Tip: Never give whole nuts to children under 5 because of the risk of choking)

- Peanuts

- Sesame seeds

- Fish & shellfish

- Soya

There are a few foods that aren’t suitable for baby before the age of 1. Here is a list of some foods to avoid.

- Whole cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk as a drink

- Honey (as it can contain a bacteria that can make them unwell)

- Swordfish, shark or marlin (due to the amount of mercury they contain)

- Limit liver to once a week

- Limit oily fish to twice a week

It’s important any food sensitivity is properly investigated and diagnosed by a healthcare professional. Your GP should be your first point of contact. www.allergyuk.org is also a great source of information.