Many children have food allergies or intolerances so I’m going to discuss both these and explain the differences between them. A food allergy is an inappropriate reaction of the body’s immune system to a normal, safe substance. The reaction can be very powerful and usually starts almost at once, or at least within 1-2 hours of exposure so this makes it easier to diagnose. The skin, airways or digestion are usually affected. Symptoms can be dramatic and even life-threatening. Typical allergies involve fish, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs (but it can be anything). An allergy can first emerge at any age, and unfortunately it is then usually a lifelong problem.
Food intolerance symptoms on the other hand, can take up to 72 hours to appear after eating the food, so it makes them harder to diagnose. They tend to be ‘dose dependent’, that is the more consumed the larger the reaction. Unfortunately, multiple foods maybe involved and any body organ/ system can be affected. While food intolerances can emerge at any stage of life, they may worsen or disappear over time so they are not always a lifelong problem. Symptoms may clear, for example, after a period of eliminating the food. The most common intolerances include cows milk and wheat.
With regard to dairy-free children, there’s a great Irish site called dairyfreekids (https://dairyfreekids.ie/) run by a Mum Laura who has 2 kids with a cows milk allergy. This site contains lots of useful advice and tips, not only for those dairy free, but also for other food allergies &/ intolerances among children.
Below are just 2 links that give some really useful tips on avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen and shopping with intolerances &/ allergies.