Many factors can contribute to the severity of your child’s eczema symptoms. In some cases, eliminating common allergens such as milk and eggs may help reduce symptoms or prevent flare-ups.

mother with young babyShare on Pinterest
Eugeniusz Dudzinski/Getty Images

It can be especially difficult to manage eczema in infants and toddlers.

Here are 7 foods to consider avoiding for babies and toddlers with eczema. Keep in mind that it’s always best to speak with a healthcare professional before eliminating foods from your child’s diet.

Eczema — also known as atopic dermatitis — is a common condition that can cause red, itchy, and inflamed skin.

Although eczema can affect anyone, it’s especially common among children. In fact, about 60% of cases develop within the first year of life.

Many factors can worsen eczema flare-ups, including foods.

Research suggests that certain foods may trigger eczema in 20–30% of moderate to severe cases. Additionally, foods are more likely to worsen symptoms in children under age 5.

While foods do not directly cause eczema, making dietary changes could help reduce symptoms, especially for those who have a sensitivity or allergy to specific foods.

Eliminating common allergen foods from children’s diets has been shown to improve eczema symptoms in some cases.

However, more research is needed, and it may not be necessary to avoid all the foods listed below to help manage your child’s eczema. Speak with your child’s doctor for guidance on what to limit or avoid.


Certain foods may worsen symptoms of eczema, especially in infants and children. However, it depends on your child’s particular allergies or sensitivities, so speak with a healthcare professional to determine which foods might be best to eliminate.

Preventing food allergies

Introducing common allergen foods to an infant early in life may actually help prevent them from developing food allergies, including allergies to eggs and peanuts.

If you’re considering eliminating certain foods from your child’s diet or you’re concerned about your child developing food allergies, speak with a healthcare professional. They can help you develop a diet plan based on your child’s needs.

Was this helpful?

Research suggests that eliminating one or more of these foods from the diet may significantly improve symptoms of eczema in some children.

1. Dairy

Not only is an allergy to cow’s milk the most common food allergy in young children, but dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are also common triggers for eczema.

One study in 132 children with food-triggered eczema found that 39% of the participants developed an immediate reaction after consuming cow’s milk.

A 2019 review reported that infants with eczema were 6 times more likely to have an allergy to cow’s milk, eggs, or peanuts at 12 months of age than infants without eczema.

Several plant-based milks are available as alternatives to cow’s milk, including soy milk, almond milk, and cashew milk. But be sure to check the ingredient lists carefully, as some of these products are high in calories and added sugar.

2. Fish and shellfish

The term “shellfish” refers to all aquatic animals that have shell-like exteriors, including crabs, lobsters, oysters, mussels, and shrimp. Meanwhile, most types of fish, including salmon, trout, tuna, and tilapia, have fins and scales.

Although both fish and shellfish are highly nutritious and can be great sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, they can also worsen symptoms of eczema for many children.

This is because fish and shellfish allergies are common and can cause a wide range of side effects, including hives, itching, and eczema.

While some children may be sensitive to finned fish or shellfish, others may experience reactions only to certain types, such as crustaceans (like shrimp and crab) or mollusks (like oysters and clams).

A pediatrician or registered dietitian can help determine which specific types of seafood may trigger symptoms in your baby or toddler.

3. Soy products

For those with a soy allergy, consuming soy products such as soy milk, tofu, and edamame can cause an immune response, which could trigger skin reactions such as eczema.

Compared with allergies to other major food allergens, soy allergies are not nearly as common, representing only 0.4% of food allergies in children under 18 in the United States.

If your baby or toddler has a sensitivity to soy products, keep in mind that many processed foods contain soy-based ingredients, all of which could worsen symptoms of eczema. Examples include:

  • soy sauce
  • tamari
  • soy protein
  • textured vegetable protein

4. Eggs

Share on Pinterest
Elena Botta/Getty Images

Some babies or toddlers may have an allergy to the proteins found in egg whites or yolks, which could trigger symptoms of eczema.

Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies, affecting an estimated 1.3% of children under age 5 in the United States.

Furthermore, a 2019 review reported that infants with eczema were nearly 6 times more likely to develop an egg allergy by 12 months of age than those without eczema.

However, most egg allergies in children resolve by around age 5.

Additionally, some babies and toddlers who are sensitive to eggs may be able to tolerate them in some forms, such as baked eggs.

5. Tree nuts

Tree nuts could worsen eczema for many young children with tree nut allergies. Examples of tree nuts include:

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • walnuts
  • pecans

Tree nut allergies may affect up to 1.2% of children in the United States.

Allergies to tree nuts can be very serious, and some research suggests that more severe reactions to tree nuts are often associated with severe cases of eczema, asthma, and seasonal allergies.

In addition to avoiding tree nuts, your child may need to avoid foods that contain them, including pesto, nut butter, coconut products, and certain types of cereals, cookies, crackers, and candies.

6. Wheat or gluten

Wheat is a cereal grain and a staple ingredient in many foods, such as bread, pasta, and baked goods.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that gives dough its structure and elasticity.

In people with a wheat allergy, consuming products that contain wheat may worsen eczema and could cause other symptoms, including hives, asthma, and digestive issues.

Eczema and skin rashes can also be caused by a sensitivity to gluten or by celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that triggers an immune reaction when a person consumes gluten-containing foods.

While there is no test available to diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity, your child’s doctor can use a skin or blood test to help determine whether your child has celiac disease or an allergy to wheat.

7. Peanuts

Peanuts are a common allergen and are associated with several skin reactions, including rashes, hives, itching, and eczema.

Peanut allergies are especially common among babies and toddlers, as most peanut allergies appear within the first 2 years of life.

Additionally, some research suggests that peanut allergies are more common among infants with moderate to severe eczema.

If peanuts cause flare-ups of eczema for your baby or toddler, try using substitutes such as seeds and seed butter in your favorite recipes.


Some of the most common foods that cause allergies in infants and toddlers are dairy, fish, shellfish, soy products, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs.

Several foods can be beneficial for eczema and may help reduce symptoms such as itching and inflammation.

For example, fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that can protect against oxidative stress, cell damage, and inflammation.

Although studies in humans are still limited, some research suggests that reducing oxidative stress could play a role in managing eczema.

Increasing your intake of probiotics through fermented foods or supplements may also be helpful.

One review of 13 studies concluded that certain strains of probiotics were effective at reducing eczema severity in children. These strains included Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus salivarius.

However, more research is needed because other studies have found that probiotics do not have a significant effect on symptom severity or quality of life for those with eczema.


Including more foods rich in antioxidants and probiotics in your child’s diet could be beneficial for eczema, but more research is needed.

What else triggers eczema in infants?

Possible triggers for eczema in babies include their own sweat and saliva, as well as exposure to dry air, smoking, pet dander, and pollen. Sometimes babies can scratch themselves, which can make the symptoms worse.

Eczema can also be triggered by clothing, laundry detergent or fabric softener, baby powder, wipes, and fragranced shampoos and soaps.

What foods cause eczema in breastfed babies?

In theory, many of the same food allergens that might trigger eczema in older children and adults could cause eczema in infants who are exposed to breast milk.

However, evidence for an association between infant eczema and the diet of a breastfeeding parent is limited, as is evidence for improvement in symptoms due to the parent excluding certain foods from their diet.

For many babies and toddlers, diet can play a key role in managing symptoms of eczema.

While certain foods can make eczema symptoms worse, others may decrease inflammation and oxidative stress, which could reduce symptoms.

However, it’s best to talk with a pediatrician or dietitian before making any changes to your child’s diet, especially because eliminating certain foods from their diet could make it harder for your child to meet their nutritional needs.

Additionally, keep in mind that many other factors can contribute to eczema and some children may need other types of treatment to help relieve symptoms.

Just one thing

Try this today: Consider experimenting with some at-home remedies for your child’s eczema. Check out this article for a few ideas to help provide relief for your baby or toddler.

Was this helpful?