Maternal diet during pregnancy might influence the development of childhood allergic disorders. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of Mediterranean diet (MD) adherence during pregnancy on wheeze and eczema in the first year of life in two population-based mother–child cohorts in Spain and Greece. We studied 1771 mother–newborn pairs from the Spanish multi-centre ‘INMA’ (INfancia y Medio Ambiente) study (Gipuzkoa, Sabadell and Valencia) and 745 pairs from the ‘RHEA’ study in Crete, Greece. The symptoms of wheeze and eczema were based on the criteria of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Maternal diet during pregnancy was assessed by FFQ and MD adherence was evaluated through an a priori score. Multivariate log-binomial regression models were used to adjust for several confounders in each cohort and summary estimates were obtained by a meta-analysis. MD adherence was not associated with the risk of wheeze and eczema in any cohort, and similar results were identified in the meta-analysis approach. High meat intake (relative risk (RR) 1·22, 95 % CI 1·00, 1·49) and ‘processed’ meat intake (RR 1·18, 95 % CI 1·02, 1·37) during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of wheeze in the first year of life, while a high intake of dairy products was significantly associated with a decreased risk of infantile wheeze (RR 0·83, 95 % CI 0·72, 0·96). The results of the present study show that high meat intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of wheeze in the first year of life, while a high intake of dairy products may decrease it.