You’ve just had a baby and you think he/she is showing signs of allergies. It’s an exciting yet stressful time as you work hard to make your baby comfortable in their new world. But it can be confusing as you navigate how to care for a newborn.
Newborn babies can’t speak. Their life is dependent on you and although it’s a tough responsibility on parents, a baby’s life is incredibly simple.
They eat and sleep. As your baby becomes more comfortable in its environment he/she will begin to move, make faces, smile and frown.
But what is happening when your baby is crying, and what do you do when your baby has a rash? It can be hard to discern how your baby feels and what steps to take.
Of course you can visit a doctor (and you should) but there are simple actions you can take in your home to make your baby more comfortable and less irritated.
In this article we’ll highlight a few of the signs your baby has allergies and I’ll share my tips for reducing baby allergies in the home. Most of my tips are simple and a small investment to ensure your family’s health. Let’s get started.
A rash, or baby eczema, is one of the most common things to affect a newborn. It makes sense, as baby skin is soft and sensitive to its new surroundings. Time is required for the baby’s skin to toughen up and become used to blankets, clothes, and other materials.
With this in mind, a rash isn’t out of the ordinary.
As the immune system develops your baby’s skin should settle down and show less signs of rash. But most parents don’t want to wait so they visit the doctor to get cream, or purchase hand covers to keep their baby from scratching.
Eczema rash is common in babies and children alike and most will “grow out” of it during childhood.
To make your baby as comfortable as possible, get dust mite proof crib covers that block dust mite, pollen, and pet dander allergens. Dust mite proof crib covers will reduce skin contact with common allergens and make sleeping more comfortable.
My sister’s baby had eczema and later found out she was reacting to the blankets and crib she was laying in (the solution would have been simple).
To reduce potential allergens in the air, consider a HEPA air purifier for the baby’s bedroom. HEPA air purifiers clean the air multiple times in a day and are meant to run all day, everyday.
Indoor air can sometimes be much worse than outdoor air so a HEPA air purifier can make a big difference.
Another sign your baby has allergies is if they are itching. Itching is common with newborn babies. It is sometimes connected to rashes and eczema but can occur separately too if your baby is laying on or wearing material that is uncomfortable.
Whether it’s dust mite allergy or the material itself is an irritant, carefully consider the clothes and blanket.
A few tips for itching are gloves for the hands that keep your baby from scratching. It’s wise to also keep the finger nails short so they can’t do damage to the skin.
A baby can do a lot of damage to their skin with long finger nails.
When washing clothes, use a mild or unscented detergent that doesn’t contain strong perfumes. Something as simple as a fragrance might cause an allergic reaction for your baby.
If the itching is in fact allergy related, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the water of the wash. Eucalyptus essential oil has a nice fragrance that is natural and non-irritating however the best part about eucalyptus essential oil is that it kills dust mites and their larvae.
Dust mite allergy is a major problem in American homes and because you’ll never see dust mites (microscopic and invisible to the naked eye) most people don’t know they’re causing allergies. Dust mites and their allergy causing proteins are mostly found in our beds, pillows, and carpets where they eat our dead skin.
If you suspect dust mite allergy from itching, consider bed covers and frequent washing using eucalyptus essential oil.
Red irritated skin
Red irritated skin is a sign of inflammation and swelling do to injury, sickness, or allergy.
If your baby has red irritated skin observe where it is on the body. Does it make sense to have irritated skin in that area? Is it on both sides of the body or only one side?
Is the redness expanding, itchy, or weeping? These are all questions you should ask yourself. If you feel it’s serious, go to a doctor.
It could be a food allergy and it could also be developing into a rash or eczema due to allergy.
The easiest thing to do is to make adjustments to the environment such as washing blankets and clothes with fragrance free detergent and getting bed covers. If things don’t clear up you should consider a food allergy.
Has your baby’s diet changed recently? If so an allergist could help determine the culprit. In most cases red, irritated skin will calm down in a few days.
Puffy eyes (especially eye lids)
Puffy, swollen eyes and eyelids are definitely a sign of allergies but could also be due to infection or conjunctivitis. If you’re in doubt, head to your doctor, however if the puffy eyes are chronic it could be caused by allergies in the house.
Common allergens include pet dander, dust mites, pollen (yes pollen gets inside the house) and mold.
HEPA air purifiers are a wise decision if you suspect allergy. The air purifiers run constantly and can sit relatively unnoticed in a corner of a bedroom.
Try placing a HEPA air purifier in the room your baby sleeps in and it will clean the air a few times per day. As an allergy sufferer myself I can attest that they make a big difference and my dust mite allergies are less severe.
We advise not to put cortisone cream or other topical ointments on or around the eyes. The skin around the eyes is sensitive and ointments can absorb in and around the eye. Grapeseed oil and coconut oil are great options for the face if needed to soothe and moisturize the skin.
Lack of sleep
If your baby is up all night and has trouble sleeping there could be a number of reasons why (I’m not a doctor). We know gas could be a reason, hunger, sickness, teething, dreams, or just missing mom.
If you suspect the lack of sleep is from allergy look for other symptoms. Are there rashes, congestion, general itchiness? Observe your babies breathing.
Are they breathing clearly from their nose or breathing solely from the mouth. Are their ears producing excess wax? This could be a sign of allergy or infection.
For environmental changes, we suggest actions we mentioned above. Look into pillow and mattress (crib) covers for dust mites. Also, consider a HEPA air purifier.
A lack of sleep at night is a very general symptom so allergy may not be the first thing to look into. Check with your medical professional if it becomes frequent.
Similar to the lack of sleep symptom above, irritability is a very general symptom that could be your baby’s personality or indicate something serious is wrong.
If your baby becomes irritable your job is to investigate. Look for tender areas on their body, redness, swelling, and rashes.
Check your baby’s mouth, eyes, and ears. Babies grow quickly so it’s not uncommon to notice changes. Be aware and you should be able to interpret what’s occurring.
If you suspect your baby’s irritability is due to allergies, follow the above-mentioned steps with crib covers and air purifiers. Wash clothes with eucalyptus essential oil or simply change the blankets or clothes you’re currently using.
If you believe irritability is due to food allergies see a doctor because food allergies can be dangerous for babies and young kids.
Crying can be normal for babies and it could be a sign of pain. Other than their hands and eyes, crying is their only way of communicating since they can’t speak.
Babies will cry when they wake up and cry when they are hungry. Once again, you’ll need to investigate why your baby is crying and as you learn their personality you should be able to understand why.
Stuffy nose (mouth breathing)
Another sign your baby has allergies is if they have a stuffy nose. Growing up, my nose was always congested. In fact, a lot of kids have stuffy noses and it seems normal right?
Excess mucous in the sinuses accompanied by swelling is a way the body fights on foreign invaders. Mucous helps push out unwanted bacteria so it is incredibly useful.
But all to often we accept a persistent stuffy nose as normal. A stuffy nose in babies and kids is normal when it happens occasionally. If it is chronic there’s a good chance it’s an allergy.
Sometimes it may be hard to tell if your baby is breathing out of his/her nose or mouth. Pay close attention and if the majority of breathing takes place through the mouth then your baby might have a swollen, stuffy nose.
In the case of a chronic stuffy nose and mouth breathing, we really recommend an air purifier for the bedroom. A small purifier for a single room will work well.
A congested nose could mean that the airways are reacting to something that’s in the air. Dust mites, pet dander, and to a lesser extent pollens and molds are often contributors to indoor allergies and they are invisible to the human eye.
If the air conditioning or heater is on, or if the ceiling fan is on, dust will be blown around the house and allergens can linger in the air for hours. These allergens won’t be seen, but they’re easily inhaled and can induce symptoms for hours and even days.
Ear grabbing (itchy ears)
Ears are another location that allergies may irritate. It’s more common, and noticeable, for the nose and eyes to be affected by allergens but the ears can also become itchy and irritated.
Excess production of ear wax could be a result of allergies (although it could also be other things like an ear infection) so wax is something to look out for.
Another place to watch is behind the ear where there is thin, sensitive skin. This area is prone to allergic eczema and children, including babies, often itch there. Skin behind the ear can weep and become crusty if itched.
Mittens could help reduce your baby’s ability to itch and grab their ears – frustrating for the baby but better for their skin!
Uncomfortable on certain fabric or furniture
If your baby seems uncomfortable on certain materials or fabrics it could be due to allergy. A common place to put babies is the couch or on the carpeted floor.
Fabric couches and carpets are home to many allergens, especially pet dander and dust mites. If your baby seems irritated after laying on the couch or carpet, check their back for an allergic reaction.
Hard flooring and leather couches are best for allergy sufferers. When I was diagnosed with moderate-severe dust mite allergy my doctor advised me to get rid of carpeting and fabric couches.
This is can be tough to do and might be expensive, however if you own your home and are concerned about family allergies, removing carpets and exchanging fabric couches for leather couches is a wise decision.
Similar to the fabrics mentioned above, wash clothes and sheets regularly. If possible use eucalyptus essential oil to kill dust mites and the larvae.
In this article we looked at signs your baby has allergies. If your baby is experiencing unwanted, or unexpected health issues it’s always best to speak with your doctor. Some symptoms your baby has might be fixable in the home.
If your baby has rashes, or congestion, or itchy skin, it might be that their immune system is learning the environment. Many newborns experience eczema but as they develop they “grow out” of the problem.
Possible signs of allergies may include:
- Redness, inflammation
- Itchy skin
- Stuffy nose
- Excessive crying
- Showing signs of discomfort while laying down
- Red eyes/eyelids
- Ear grabbing/itching
- Lack of sleep
Of course, you’ll want to make your baby as comfortable as possible.
In order to do-so, consider using mittens to keep babies from scratching. You can also keep their fingernails short to reduce the chance of scratching.
Clothes and bedding should be washed regularly to reduce allergen exposure against their delicate skin. Be sure to use eucalyptus essential oil to kill dust mites and their larvae. We also advice to use a detergent that is fragrance free – the more natural the better.
In the bedroom, consider using a dust mite proof crib cover (similar to a mattress cover but for cribs). This will provide a barrier between the baby’s skin and the mattress. Pillow covers and blanket covers can also be purchased.
Also consider using a HEPA air purifier in the baby’s room. HEPA air purifiers have come a long way in the past few years and are excellent at cleaning air in the house.
Most people don’t realize how dirty indoor air can be. A HEPA air purifier can clean the air in a room multiple time in a day and is mean to run around the clock (plus it provides some white noise to aid sleep).
If you do moisturizing your baby’s skin, consider organic grapeseed oil and coconut oil which are natural and don’t contain any synthetic ingredients (check with your doctor to make sure they approve).