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Food Allergies in Babies | 6 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding and Beyond

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Foods to Avoid If You Suspect Your Baby Has Allergies

Food allergies in babies can cause everything from a slightly drippy nose to a mild or severe skin rash. You’ve never been the type to panic so you might feel ashamed about turning into a raging hypochondriac – but don’t beat yourself up about it. Especially with your first baby, as a new mom it’s almost impossible to have a balanced perspective when it comes to your baby’s health (it generally shows up only with baby #3 or #4). You know your baby best, so trust your intuition. If you suspect that your baby has allergies, you can make a few changes to help pinpoint potential problems. 

Things to Avoid If You Suspect Your Baby Has Allergies

When it comes to allergies in babies, food is most often the culprit. So, although environmental allergens and some medications pose a slight risk, your main focus should be on food. 

It's important to note that allergies in babies don't always show up as a rash. Sometimes it's a runny nose or inconsolable crying. My daughter would scream and cry from gas pain as an infant soon after I breastfed her for the first couple months of her life before I tried removing foods from my diet.

I usually put my clients on an elimination and reintroduction diet to see if they may have any food allergies they are unaware of that could be sabotaging their health and weight loss goals. 

If you suspect that your baby might have food allergies, you will want to follow a similar process. You can remove all foods at once, wait at least 7-10 days and then re-introduce one food at a time waiting at least 3 days before adding another one to  help identify which food(s) maybe causing issues for your baby.

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In the meantime if you are looking for some allergen free baby food recipes click here.

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Foods that Trigger Allergies in Babies

1. Dairy

Dairy is one of the most common causes of food allergies in breastfeeding babies. At face value, it seems counterintuitive that milk can be the culprit, but cow’s milk contains proteins that can cause colic-like symptoms, hives and diarrhea. Substitute your daily glass of milk for a dairy-free superfood smoothie and give up all other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and …ice cream (gasp). 

Don’t worry, this is not a permanent change – just do this for 7-10 days (dairy takes at least 1 week to completely get out of your system)  and if your baby doesn’t react to the change, you can go back to your regular diet. 

If your baby does react to dairy (like my daughter Dakota did) then you will want to eat dairy-free until your baby is older or has stopped breastfeeding. The hardest part of this for me was cheese, thankfully there are much better dairy-free (vegan) cheeses on the market than their used to be and if you’re feeling adventurous this vegan goat cheese recipe is ah-mazing!

Note the only formula I found that my daughter could tolerate (which we didn’t start until 6 months) was the Hypo-allergenic HA1 by HIPP (we used the German formula).  This formula breaks down the protein in the milk already so the body doesn't have to break it down to digest it, plus many other benefits.

2. Soy

Most babies who are allergic to the proteins in cow’s milk also have a reaction to soy proteins, so it would be wise to eliminate soy from your diet at the same time to determine if your baby has a milk or soy allergy. 

3. Seafood

Does the thought of feasting on lobster, shrimp, crab and oyster leave you happy as a clam?  Well, you might want to dial back on the shellfish as they can trigger allergic reactions such as hives and wheezing in breastfeeding babies. A baby is more likely to develop seafood allergies if his mum goes on a seafood binge rather than just eating fish in moderation. Seafood allergies tend to cause an immediate reaction so if you notice your baby exhibiting any allergy symptoms just after feeding, go over everything you’ve eaten to find the probable cause. 

4. Eggs

Eggs are also another common food allergy in babies. If you eat eggs (or foods that contain them) or even touch eggs what’s helpful is you usually see a reaction right away, either within a few minutes (hives!) or a few hours.1

5. Tree Nuts

Peanuts and tree nuts (especially cashews) are one of those scary allergies that can cause anaphylaxis. Children with a nut allergy may also be allergic to other foods so be sure you are also eliminating and reintroducing dairy, eggs, shellfish and other types of nuts.2

6. Wheat

A wheat allergy is more common in kids than adults and many of these children will outgrow it over time. That said a wheat allergy can range from mild to severe and similar to a nut allergy your child will be required to carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency.3

If you feel that your baby is allergic to something in your diet, swap out the foods you suspect for fresh fruits and veggies and continue to take your pre-natal vitamins so that your nutritional intake remains unaffected. Research shows that a maternal diet that follows Mediterranean dietary patterns that focus on fresh foods is linked to a reduced risk of allergies in their children.4  

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding If You Suspect Your Baby Has Allergies

Common Environmental Allergens

Move over Hermes and Chanel because there’s no sweeter scent than the top of your baby’s head! 

You might wonder if this strange obsession with your baby’s smell is normal and rest assured all of us experience it. So, why do we allow this sweet and intoxicating smell to be masked with perfumed baby products? One word – marketing. We slather on these products never once stopping to think about how the chemical perfumes in them can affect a baby’s delicate skin. If your baby breaks out in hives after you’ve switched products, you might want to opt for fragrance free products. 

The most gentle product I found was this 2-in-1 body wash and tear free shampoo. We are still using it on our Dakota and she’s almost 4 now! 

Residue from detergents can also affect a baby’s fragile skin, especially if your little one has sensitive skin that is prone to rashes. To make sure that your baby’s clothes and blankets are free from detergent residue, run them through a second rinse cycle and skip the fabric softener. You should also take steps to avoid other environmental allergens such as dust and pet dander. You can install an HEPA filter over your air conditioning unit to reduce air-borne environmental allergens. 

Certain Medicines Can Cause Allergies in Babies

Medicine allergies in breastfeeding babies are very rare but you should check all your meds with your doc just to be on the safe side. In rare cases, antibiotics and other drugs can trigger an allergic reaction in breastfeeding babies. If you need to take any medication – whether it is an OTC drug or a prescription medication, take it immediately after you breastfeed your baby to reduce the risk of any adverse reaction. 

The good news is that breastfeeding babies often outgrow their allergies. According to the experts at What To Expect, 85% of babies who experience food allergies to milk, soy or wheat in their initial years, no longer experience allergic reactions to these foods after age 5.

Unfortunately, allergies to shellfish and nuts are more likely to persist in later years.

The bottom line is that even if your baby has an allergic reaction during breastfeeding, there’s plenty that you can do to manage the situation so there’s no need to panic. 

Reference:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/egg-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20372115
https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Peanut_and_tree_nut_allergy/
https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/wheat-allergy.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5399020/

Tarashaun Hausner
Tarashaun Hausner
Tarashaun Hausner is the founder of Blender Babes®. She credits using a blender daily for helping her heal an unhealthy relationship with food. A passionate advocate for self-care, she is committed to helping others pursue optimal wellness by balancing and healing their bodies and minds. She offers several opportunities to help people improve their health including free challenges and downloads, a gentle whole foods 7 Day Blender Cleanse™ and her holistic mind, body and spirit Slim Down Solution™ Womens Coaching Programs.

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