icon-arrow-down icon icon-arrow-fill-down icon icon-arrow-next icon icon-arrow-prev icon icon-tag-close icon
The connection between allergies and picky eating
Q: My 17-month-old son, who’s allergic to milk and eggs, is picky about eating solids. He only wants his bottle.

How can I get my baby to eat more solids and fewer bottles? We also have a history of peanut allergies in the family, so I don’t want him to try peanut butter.
Sophia Mason City
A: I understand your dilemma, Sophia. I have also had to deal with food allergies in my own family.

It’s not unusual for a child of any age to become wary of new foods after an allergy episode. As you can imagine, the fear of reliving the experience makes them cautious of anything they haven’t eaten before, or that looks like the offending food. Egg and milk allergies are especially difficult because they’re found in so many foods but may not be obvious without reading labels carefully. So, it’s possible your son ate a meal with hidden casein (milk protein) or egg solids and refused it the next day because it did not make him feel do well after he digested it.

Your son is also in the “picky eater” stage of the toddler years. Bottles are safety nets for children under 3, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. If given the chance, most little kids will revert to the bottle for any number of reasons: because you’re limited to what you can put into it, because it’s easier to drink than to chew and because it’s a familiar, comfort object.

You can limit the bottle by only using a cup for liquids. I don’t believe that your son will starve without a bottle but, for a few days, he will try to get you to believe he will. Be strong!

As for the peanut allergy, it’s wise to avoid peanuts. Speak to your pediatrician about the appropriate timing to introduce them, if ever. Adding another allergen at this time might make this whole situation even more worrisome than it is already.

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant