Food allergies in babies can be difficult to diagnose because of their general symptoms. Most infant food allergies present as general crankiness or inconsolability, poor sleep, a rash, blood in the stool or constipation.
Some explanations for the above symptoms may include lack of fluid, eczema, heat rash, and a reaction to laundry detergent or a recent vaccine.
Once you have ruled these things out, it’s time to consider food allergies. If your baby is young and you are nursing, don’t give up! With a few tweaks to your diet you will hopefully figure out what your baby is allergic to.
First of all it’s important to start with a food diary, where you write down everything you eat and drink as well as the time and reaction of your baby. After analyzing it you may find milk is the culprit.
The most common food allergies in babies are milk and soy, so begin by eliminating all dairy and soy products from your diet for 2-3 weeks and see if there is an improvement. Many mothers report their child gets worse in the first week, but by the second week you should be able to see a positive change if the problem is dairy. Just keep in mind you may not see an improvement in your baby’s symptoms right away because the protein found in dairy lingers in your breast milk for about one and a half weeks after you stop drinking and eating dairy products. Don’t forget about calcium though! If you’ve relied on milk cheese and yogurt for the majority of your calcium, increase your intake of leafy greens or fish with the bones or consider a calcium supplement to get your calcium.
If your baby doesn’t seem to feel better in 3 weeks, eliminate wheat as well. It may be difficult to plan a balanced and satisfying diet without dairy, soy or wheat, but with a little creativity it can be done. If you don’t see an improvement even with the elimination of wheat, dairy and soy, it may be nuts, eggs or corn. If you are having trouble finding foods you can and want to eat, make an appointment with a dietitian. She will help you create a meal plan you and your baby are happy with.
If your baby is on a standard formula that is milk based, do not switch to a soy formula. Chances are good he may be allergic to soy as well. Instead of soy based formula try one such as Alimentum or Nutramigen. These formulas are broken down and most babies are able to tolerate it well. If your child doesn’t do well on one of those, Elecare and Neocate are your best bet. These formulas are very expensive though, so try to get it covered by insurance.
Finally, if your baby has recently been introduced to baby food, identifying and eliminating the offending food is key. That is why it’s so important to space introduction of new foods at least 3 days apart. This will give you the opportunity to watch for a reaction in food allergies in babies. If you haven’t been introducing foods one at a time, take a step back and stop giving your baby all the foods you started since you noticed the reaction. Once she’s feeling better reintroduce the foods, one by one, being careful to space them 3 days apart and watch for a reaction.
Food allergies in babies can be tricky to diagnose. However, with specific steps and a scientific approach, most food allergies can be eliminated and identified quickly and safely.