Is What You Are Eating Not Agreeing With Your Breastfed Baby?


Something that I have been seeing in my practice a lot lately, that is not as well-known as I think it should be is the foods you eat while you are breastfeeding can cause food sensitivity reactions in your baby. Before I dive into this topic, I want to start by saying that obviously breast milk is the optimal food for babies, but what you eat does impact the quality and nutritional content of your milk.

When most mom’s think of a food they are eating causing irritation to their baby the first thing that comes to mind is colic. Colic is defined as repeated bouts of excessive crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy. Colic is very common with 28% of infants between the ages of 0-4 months experiencing it. Just because it is common, does not mean it is normal. The exact cause of colic is unknown at this point in time, but many people hypothesize that it could be related to food sensitivities. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics from 2005 showed that mom eating a low allergen diet, one that excluded diary, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and fish resulted in a “reduction in distressed behavior among breastfed infants with colic presenting in the first 6 weeks of life”. In addition to removing allergenic foods from your diet, a study from the Journal of Family Medicine in 2011 showed that supplementing baby with probiotics, specifically the strain Lactobacillus reuteri significantly reduced daily crying time in infants with colic.

However, colic is not the only sign that your baby maybe reacting to something that you are eating

4 Signs Your Breastfed Baby May Be Reacting To a Food You Are Eating

  • Reflux- Some amount of “spitting up” is normal (1/2 of all 3 month old babies spit up once a day) and it usually occurs right after eating. If spitting up is more frequent it can be a sign of a food sensitivity. The most common offender is dairy
  • Constipation- This is usually seen once the baby starts solids and can be an indication that they are sensitive to a food that they have been given
  • Diaper Rash- Persistent diaper rash is a common sign of a food sensitivity. Common offenders are: dairy, eggs, tomatoes and citrus
  • Eczema- Common symptom of a food sensitivity in both babies and older children. Usually caused by: dairy, eggs or gluten

Most Common Foods Known to Cause Food Sensitivities in Infants

  • Dairy- This means all dairy: milk, cheese, and yogurt. Buying lactose-free does not make a difference as the sensitivity is to the proteins whey and casein.
  • Soy- Many people who are sensitive to dairy are also sensitive to soy
  • Eggs- Can be an inflammatory food, usually presents as skin reactions (eczema and diaper rash)

Foods That Can Cause Gas in Infants

  • Chocolate- usually OK in small amounts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Onion
  • Garlic

In addition to removing the offending foods from your diet and giving your baby probiotics, you can drink a tea with herbs that help to reduce gas like ginger and fennel. A tummy massage can be helpful to keep things moving along in the intestines. To do a tummy massage on your baby stand at baby’s feet and rub a penny sized amount of castor oil in the clockwise direction on the tummy.

Did your baby suffer from colic?

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To book an appointment, click here.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits.

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