Allergies and sensitivities in an infant can present in several ways (see our article “How to Recognize Allergies in Infants”). In young infants who are exclusively breast fed, most sensitivities show up as intestinal or skin rash symptoms. If your baby is experience excessive fussiness, gas or bloating, excessive spitting up or vomiting, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, diaper rash, sore bottom, mucus in the stools, black or green stools or eczema, he may be sensitive to something you are eating.
Allergies in an Exclusively Breastfed Baby
It is very unlikely that your infant is truly allergic to your breastmilk. Breastmilk is what your baby was designed to thrive on. However, some infants can be sensitive to the foods their mothers are eating.
Though it is important to nourish your body with good foods while you are breastfeeding, most mothers can eat as they please with little to no adverse reactions in their babies. The food a breastfeeding mother eats does, however, have some effect on her breastmilk. Many mothers find that their baby is gassier after she eats gas causing foods like fast food, sodas, beans and broccoli. Sometimes babies can be sensitive to spicy foods or foods with a lot of flavor like tomato sauce. If you eat these sorts of foods and then find that your baby is extra fussy, or has an upset stomach, it may be a good idea to hold off on eating those foods for a little while.
Babies are born with immature intestines that are more susceptible to sensitivities. As they approach the six month mark, their intestines begin to mature and are less sensitive. You will not have to give up your favorite food forever. Sometimes even waiting one month and trying again, makes a difference.
Dairy is one of the biggest offenders in breastfed babies. It is the only food that has been documented with scientific research, and shown to cause allergies in breastfed babies. Milk allergies can cause all of the above mentioned symptoms. The most common symptom parents notice are a persistently sore bottom and/or a persistent rash, and diarrhea. The diarrhea is often, though not always, accompanied by mucus in the stool. Eczema can also be caused by a dairy allergy.
If your baby seems to be having an issue with the dairy you eat, do your best to eliminate all dairy from your diet. Sometimes it can be enough to eliminate everything but cheese; however a very sensitive baby may even react to that.
If your baby is allergic to dairy, there are many products on the market to replace it with. Remember, this is just temporary. You can try eating dairy again at six months and see if it still bothers your little one.
If your baby has trouble with dairy in your diet, be cautious when introducing solid foods. Wait until your baby is at least one year old before attempting to introduce any form of dairy into his diet. Then watch closely for symptoms, as they can be greatly increased with direct exposure.
If you find that your baby has an allergy or sensitivity while you are nursing him, it is often a simple, temporary diet change that will do the trick. Though it can be a sacrifice to give up a food you enjoy, your baby will be much happier and healthy as you continue to nurse him. Keep up the good work.