What happens if you're breastfeeding and find out your baby has food allergies? Is it still safe to breastfeed? Let's break down what moms need to know.
Even if babies haven't eaten any solid food yet, they can still develop a food allergy while you're breastfeeding.
What happens if you're breastfeeding and find out your baby has food allergies? Is it still safe to keep breastfeeding? Could food proteins in breastmilk put your baby at risk for an allergic reaction? Let's break down what moms need to know.
Can I keep breastfeeding my baby if they have a food allergy?
Most of the time, the answer is yes. It's still safe to breastfeed your baby if they have a food allergy.
However, to keep your baby from developing an allergic reaction, you'll need to figure out which food(s) your baby is allergic to, and stop eating them for as long as you breastfeed. This is because the specific proteins from the foods you eat show up in your breastmilk.
Why can a baby have an allergic reaction to breastmilk?
Proteins from the foods you eat will show up in your breastmilk 3-6 hours after you eat those foods, and will get passed to your baby when you breastfeed.
When your baby is allergic to a food, their immune system treats the proteins of that food as foreign invaders. So, their body will over-defend itself whenever they consume proteins from that food---including through your breastmilk. This causes an allergic reaction.
Signs of an allergic reaction in young children include vomiting, diarrhea, hives, and redness or swelling of the face or tongue.
How can I keep baby from developing an allergic reaction while I breastfeed?
If your baby shows symptoms of an allergic reaction while you breastfeed, you'll need to stop eating the foods you think caused your baby to react.
Keep track of your meals, and how your baby reacts when you breastfeed them, in a food diary. Write down what you eat---all the ingredients in your meals--- and whether your baby shows any signs of an allergic reaction.
If you see a pattern of reactions with your baby whenever you eat a certain food, it's time to remove that food from your diet. Once you stop eating that food, the proteins from that food will stop showing up in your breastmilk within a week or two.
If you stopped eating the food that your baby is allergic to, your baby should slowly stop showing signs of a reaction.
What if your baby doesn't improve? Keep in mind that your baby could be allergic to more than one food. If your baby's symptoms don't improve after you stop eating one food, you'll need to eliminate other foods from your diet until your baby no longer shows signs of an allergic reaction.
Once you've found the food or foods your baby is allergic to, you'll need to stop eating those foods until you are no longer breastfeeding.
What Foods are Most Likely to Cause Allergies?
Any food could cause an allergic reaction, but these are the foods most likely to cause allergies:
- Dairy (cow's milk)
- Tree nuts
- Finned fish
If you think you've found the food (or foods) your baby is allergic to, you'll need to carefully read the labels on all foods to make sure you don't eat any foods with those ingredient(s). By law, ingredient labels have to warn you if a food contains one of the 8 ingredients above, that most commonly cause allergies.
Also, look at the ingredients in your medicines and supplements carefully, so you don't accidentally take medicine with an ingredient your baby is allergic to.
Key Takeaways for Moms
Don't stop breastfeeding when your baby develops a food allergy. Breastfeeding provides a wealth of benefits for you and your baby. You can still safely breastfeed as long as you figure out what foods your baby is allergic to, and stop eating those foods. This way, you won't pass the proteins that cause an allergic reaction to your baby. Change your diet, and enjoy the bonding experience of breastfeeding.
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