An Overview of Seasonal Allergies in Toddlers

Seasonal allergies are the body’s immune response to allergens in the environment. Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, are very common and occur in about 15% of children. Anyone can develop seasonal allergies, but they are more common in toddlers whose parents and siblings have allergies. 

Common symptoms include itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing. There are several possible causes of seasonal allergies including dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen. Toddlers usually experience dust allergies and rarely have pollen allergies.

This article will describe the most common causes of seasonal allergies in toddlers and how to treat them.

Potential Treatment Options for Allergies in Toddlers - Illustration by Katie Kerpel

Verywell / Katie Kerpel

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies in toddlers occur when your little one’s body has an allergic response to something in the environment. Common allergy triggers in children include dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen. Your child may have seasonal allergies if you notice them suffering from a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion around the same time every year. 

Common Allergies

Toddlers ages 1 to 2 are more likely to have indoor allergies such as dust mites and pet dander. Preschool-age children between 3 and 5 may be more likely to have outdoor allergies like pollen. 

Research shows that toddlers with eczema are more likely to develop seasonal allergies. If your child has eczema, talk with your healthcare provider or pediatrician about what signs of allergies to be aware of. 


Dust is a common allergen for toddlers. It includes dust particles and dust mites. Because dust is present in our homes year-round, you may notice that your toddler has allergy symptoms every day, as opposed to just a few weeks per year. Dust mites tend to gather in places like upholstered furniture, bedding, linens, and rugs. 

To address dust allergies, wash your child’s linens in hot water every two to three weeks to kill dust mites. Aim to replace any pillows every two to three years.


Mold can be present both indoors and outdoors and can affect kids and adults of all ages. It is usually too small to see, so you may not be aware if your child is being exposed to it. 

Outdoor molds are usually present in spring and late summer, especially around any decaying vegetation. Toddlers with mold allergies should not play in piles of leaves in the fall because this could be very irritating. Mold can also be present in homes, especially if the house is very humid.

Pet Dander

Your toddler may have an allergy to pets with hair or fur. This includes cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, or other furry pets. If you notice that your child sneezes, or starts rubbing their eyes or nose after petting an animal, they may be allergic to pet dander. 


Pollen is present in trees, plants, grass, and weeds. It can also be present in the air, so it is difficult to avoid. Pollen allergy symptoms tend to last about four to eight weeks at the same time each year. Tree pollen is highest in the spring, grass pollen in the summer, and weed pollen in the fall. 

Because pollen can be found in the air, you and your toddler will be exposed to it any time you leave the house. If you believe that your child is experiencing hay fever, try to avoid playing outside in the mornings because that is when the pollen count is the highest. Avoid going outdoors on windy days as well. Air conditioning is better than keeping the windows open too. 


Allergy symptoms in toddlers include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose 
  • Itchy eyes
  • Congestion 
  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Upset stomach
  • Trouble breathing 

Toddlers who are experiencing seasonal allergies commonly rub their eyes and noses throughout the day. You may notice a small crease on your little one’s nose caused by them pushing their nose up throughout the day. They also commonly eat and sleep with their mouths open because they find it easier to breathe that way. 

Toddlers with seasonal allergies may be at a higher risk of developing ear infections. Seasonal allergies can lead to inflammation in the ear, and this may cause fluid to accumulate. When the fluid becomes infected, an ear infection occurs.


If you suspect that your child may be experiencing seasonal allergies, talk with your healthcare provider. They may start by asking you to keep a journal of your child’s symptoms. This could be a helpful tool in figuring out which allergen is causing your toddler’s symptoms. 

When you meet with your child’s practitioner, they will ask several questions about when the symptoms started and how long they tend to last. Your healthcare provider will ask which treatments you have tried and if they worked. They will also perform a physical exam and inspect your child's eyes, ears, nose, and throat. They may discuss allergy testing with you to determine your child’s specific triggers.


There are several options for treating seasonal allergies in toddlers. Allergy medicines, known as antihistamines, can help to control the symptoms of allergies such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. However, they do not cure the allergy itself.

Talk with your healthcare provider or pediatrician about possible treatment options such as:

Some types of allergy medication, Benadryl in particular, can cause sleepiness. Monitor your toddler when trying a new medication to see if they seem tired or cranky from it. It may be helpful to give the medicine around bedtime.

How to Find Relief

If your little one is suffering from seasonal allergies, there are several steps you can take at home to offer them a little relief. First, try to nail down which allergen is causing the problem and avoid it as best you can.

If your child is sensitive to pollen, try playing outside in the afternoons because pollen tends to peak in the mornings. Sunglasses may help if your toddler gets itchy eyes when playing outside. On warm days, avoid opening the windows because this will encourage pollen to come into your house. If your child is having allergy symptoms after playing outside, offer them a cold, wet washcloth to place over their eyes. This may be difficult for a toddler to keep on, so try reading them a story while they rest. 

Consider installing a HEPA filter in your central air conditioner to remove allergens from the air. It may also be helpful to give your child a bath every night before bed. This will help to remove allergens like dust or pollen from their skin and help them sleep.


Seasonal allergies are a relatively common problem for toddlers and occur when your child’s body has an immune response to something in the environment. Common allergens that affect toddlers include dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen. Symptoms may include sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and congestion. Talk with your healthcare provider about how to treat your toddler’s allergy symptoms. 

A Word From Verywell

Seasonal allergies can be very uncomfortable, and none of us want to see our children suffer. If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing seasonal allergies, know that help is available. Talk with your healthcare provider about medication options and keep a journal of when your child seems to have the most symptoms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can you tell the difference between a cold and allergies?

    The best way to tell the difference between a cold and allergies is to pay attention to your child’s symptoms. Both conditions can cause a runny nose and congestion. Allergies usually cause an itchy nose and eyes, while the common cold can cause a fever. 

  • What age do seasonal allergies start in kids?

    Seasonal allergies most commonly begin in children ages 3 to 5 years old. 

  • Is there a difference between seasonal allergies in toddlers vs. kids?

    Babies and toddlers are more likely to experience indoor allergies like dust and dust mites. Older kids more commonly experience outdoor allergies like pollen.

  • Are there home remedies you can try for allergies in toddlers?

    To relieve your toddler’s allergy symptoms, there are a few easy steps to take at home. If they are experiencing itchy eyes, have them lie down with a cold, damp washcloth over their eyes. This will help to remove any pollen and relieve the itchiness. Give your child a bath every night to remove any allergens on their skin. This will hopefully reduce their nighttime symptoms and help them sleep. Finally, avoid your child’s known allergens as best you can.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Seasonal allergies in children

  2. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Children and allergies.

  3. Seattle Children’s. Hay fever

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Signs your child has seasonal allergies

Additional Reading

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.