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Food Sensitivities

a guide for nursing moms


Related Articles:
Food Allergy Prevention (Nursing Mothers)
Milk Allergies
Nutrition and Dieting During Breastfeeding
Food Allergies


There are some foods that you eat while breast-feeding that your baby may be sensitive to and may react to. Just as certain foods can cause us to have a stomachache, the foods the mother eats can cause problems for her nursing baby. Food sensitivities are usually temporary reactions that may not lead to a more severe allergy.

Some families have a history of allergies and sensitivities to foods. Knowing your family history is helpful when food sensitivities are suspected. If one parent has an allergy there is a 50% chance the baby will inherit the likelihood of developing it. If both parents have the same or a similar allergy, the baby's chances go up to 80%.

Common sensitive foods include:

   -   Gassy foods such as cabbage, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips which cause gas or 24-hour colic. So can too much apple or grape juice. Moms have to moderate how much of any one product or product type she eats or drinks while nursing.
   -   Spices, especially when heavily used. Babies get fussy and colicky if mom nurses after a spicy meal.
   -   Mom's vitamins can be a possible offender. Some are high in iron and can produce constipation in the little one. Some may have colorings or flavorings baby is sensitive to and mom may have to switch to a more naturally formulated product.
   -   Eggs, some fish, citrus fruits, some tropical fruits such as mango, and peanuts.
   -   Caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate, soda and some over-the-counter medications all contain caffeine. These can cause discomfort in your nursing baby. Limit or eliminate intake of substances containing caffeine. Learn to read labels very, very carefully.

Symptoms that may occur after eating the offending food include:

   -   Fussiness
   -   Crying inconsolably
   -   Drawing up the legs to the tummy
   -   Nursing more often but not comforted by it

See colic and crying for ideas how to help console a crying baby.

Cow's Milk Allergy: The main allergy offender is cow's milk, the primary ingredient in regular formula. Soy -- based products were developed for these allergic babies as early as the 1940's and many others have since been available.

Babies who are allergic to cow's milk formulas may not show any symptoms until they have been drinking them for several days or weeks. Sometimes even a breast-fed baby who has been given a cow's milk formula in the hospital is what is called "sensitized" to cow's milk and goes on some time later in baby or childhood to have a reaction to it.

Some of these reactions include:


Chronic diarrhea,



Excessive crying,

A reluctance to feed and

Poor sleep patterns.

Skin problems are common, as in rashes, eczema, itching, and severe diaper rash.

As infants respond in various ways to these allergies, some may just become very irritable or hyperactive.

If allowed to continue, children develop:

Runny noses,

Ear infections,




Nausea, and stomachaches,

Dark circles under the eyes and

Frequent colds and sore throats.

Children with bright red ears are highly suspect for allergies,

Sinus infections and bronchitis.

This allergy restricts the breast-feeding mother from ingesting large amounts of dairy products. Yet some can eat yogurt or ice cream but not milk. In some cases, no dairy products are permitted. In these instances, it would be necessary for the mother to find alternate sources of calcium.

Should you suspect that your baby has a milk allergy, contact your pediatrician immediately. Again, learn to read the fine print on food labels.

Case study: I remember working with one mom whose baby suddenly developed a severe diaper rash. We went through all the usual offenders such as lotions, soaps, new products and nothing was unusual until I asked about her diet. She admitted she had been trying to lose weight and was eating yogurt most of the day. Of course, she had to eliminate all dairy products to clear up the baby's rash.

Please don't try to lose large amounts of weight while breast-feeding. There are many serious reasons why this is a bad idea. See Nutrition and Dieting while Breast-Feeding.

There are literally hundreds of pieces of good solid research into the topics above. Consultation with a certified lactation consultant is always a good move.




Related Articles:
Food Allergy Prevention (Nursing Mothers)
Milk Allergies
Nutrition and Dieting During Breastfeeding
Food Allergies


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Nursing Mom's Guide to Food Sensitivity/Allergy


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