Pollen allergies, also known as hay fever, don’t normally affect infants. The way that allergies work is that once your body is exposed to an allergen and registers it as dangerous, it will continue to have the same response thereafter. Babies don’t usually get enough exposure to trigger their immune systems. Most commonly, children don’t start suffering from hay fever until they’re seven years old, and hay fever in babies under two is considered uncommon. So if you suspect your baby might be suffering from pollen allergies, the first step is to determine whether they’re actually pollen allergies or whether the culprit is something else.
Pollen allergies usually kick in between early spring and late summer; the symptoms are similar to those of a cold: runny nose, sneezing, congestion, itchy or watery eyes. The trick in diagnosing pollen allergies is to note when the symptoms occur. If they bother your baby for a week or two and then go away, they’re probably not indicative of hay fever. However, if they bother your baby during the summer on sunny days and last for the season, there’s a much better chance your baby has pollen allergies. If the symptoms are year-round, that’s also probably not a pollen allergy since trees, grass and ragweed release their pollen in warmer months. Your doctor can help with the diagnosis.
If your infant does suffer from pollen allergies, your best option is prevention. Keep your baby inside in the early morning and evening and other times when pollen counts are at their highest. Wash your infant’s hands and face after he’s been outdoors, and keep his laundry away from pollen.
When it comes to treatment, many antihistamines come in liquid form, but they’re not usually recommended for children younger than six months. Your doctor can recommend a treatment that’s safe for babies. When they get a bit older, allergy shots might help them overcome their allergies, but an allergist must be consulted for this treatment.