Pregnancy Articles

Breastfeeding: Food Allergies and Irritants

Keep Track of Your Diet

Please note: If you think your baby might be suffering from food irritation or allergies, please consult with your child's pediatrician or specialist rather than trying to diagnose the problem and solution yourself. Use this guide to help you gather information that will help you have a productive discussion with your health provider.

Can the foods I eat really irritate or cause allergies in the breastfed baby? Possibly. There are two separate issues here. Irritants are different from allergens. Irritants might just make a baby temporarily fussy because they can cause gas to build up in their tiny intestines. Allergens could cause an actual allergic reaction, which typically lasts longer and could cause long-term allergies to particular foods.
  1. Temporary Irritant or Sensitivity Common irritants include: chocolate (may also cause diarrhea), and "gassy" vegetables (for example, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, and onions). If you suspect that your newborn is "fussy" or irritated by certain foods you're eating, one approach for determining the irritants, as well as providing useful information to your pediatrician, is to keep a food journal. Be sure to note each food, the quantity consumed, and both the time you ate it and the time you breastfed your baby. You may also want to note your infant's reaction and when it appeared to happen (during feeding, 1 hour later, etc.).

If your baby is temporarily irritated by the foods you eat, it usually subsides as your baby grows and his/her gastro-intestinal track matures. Be sure to discuss possible irritants with your health care provider.

  1. Allergic Reactions On rare occasions, newborns are allergic to foods (eggs, corn, dairy, soy, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts are the most common) passing through the breast milk. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include vomiting, diarrhea, rash, irritability, gas, or blood in the stool. It can often take 2 weeks for an allergic irritant to clear out of your system, so eliminate a suspected food for two weeks, then try to monitor whether positive changes occur in your baby. Then, reintroduce foods one by one in order to isolate and determine a possible problem. Resume eating these foods in small amounts, and watch for symptoms to recur. Discuss your suspicions with your child's pediatrician.
How BabyFit Can Help
The Nutrition Tracker is the perfect way to track your food for your own nutrition as well as for a record of possible irritants/allergens that affect your baby.

The "Journal" that accompanies the Nutrition Tracker can be used to record your baby's behavior and "fussiness" patterns, as well as possible allergic reactions. These detailed records will be helpful when you meet with your pediatrician.

This article has been reviewed by Becky Hand, Registered Dietician.
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
Becky Hand

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