Can Food Allergies Make Baby Fussy?

Fussiness on its own is not a symptom of a food allergy, but baby could fuss while experiencing other food allergy symptoms. Learn why baby may be fussy, and food allergy symptoms to watch out for.

 

Although baby may be fussy when they’re experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction, fussiness on its own is not a symptom of a food allergy. Today, we’ll cover the symptoms of food allergies that parents should be alert for while introducing allergenic foods. We’ll also cover some of the possible reasons baby may be overly fussy, that are not connected with food allergies.

Fussiness: Not A Sign Of Food Allergies On Its Own

Fussiness by itself is not a sign of an allergic reaction. 

Even if baby is refusing to eat while they are crying excessively, this also isn’t a sign of a food allergy on its own. 

To determine whether your baby is having an allergic reaction, look for the following symptoms:

Most common food allergy reaction symptoms in babies

  • Hives (raised, itchy bumps)
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Swelling of the face, lips, or eyes
  • Itchiness with hives, redness or swelling

Other mild food allergy reaction symptoms

  • Skin redness in one area
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Congestion
  • Some stomach or abdominal pain (sometimes with colicky fussiness, but not always)
  • Some nausea
  • Some coughing
  • Worsening eczema

Severe food allergy reaction symptoms

  • Widespread hives on several areas of the body 
  • Swelling or tightness of the throat
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble breathing, noisy breathing, or shortness of breath
  • Shortness of breath
  • Repeated, significant coughing
  • Pale appearance
  • Trouble vocalizing
  • Change in voice or cry
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Feeling floppy (only in infants and young children)

Remember: If baby is fussy during mealtimes, but isn’t experiencing any of the above allergic reaction symptoms, they are not experiencing an allergic reaction. 

In fact, the same applies if baby is only fussy and constipated --- on their own, fussiness and constipation are not signs of an allergic reaction. 

If it's not a food allergy, what is causing fussiness?

What could be causing baby to be fussier than usual, if it isn’t accompanied by allergic reaction symptoms? Usually, baby will cry to alert you to their needs --- when they are hungry, tired, or need their diaper changed. 

Baby may also fuss and refuse the bottle when you think they're hungry, but they are really tired. 

But if baby's fussiness doesn't follow these patterns, it could be a sign of something else.

Nurse Dani of Intermountain Moms breaks down some reasons that babies may be fussy, and how to soothe baby: 



Here are other possible causes of fussiness:

Colic

If baby cries regularly and loudly for no apparent reason,  and you can't do anything to soothe them, your baby may have colic. One sign of colic is abruptly stopping eating to cry (rejecting the breast or bottle nipple right after starting to suck).

Doctors usually diagnose colic with the “rule of three” --- crying at least 3 hours at a time, for at least 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks in a row.  Colic crying is also louder than baby's usual crying.

Colic usually starts  when baby is between 2 and 4 weeks old, and tends to taper off on its own between 3 and 6 months of age.

Food Intolerance 

If baby is fussy and constipated after feeding them formula, or any food containing common allergens like milk or soy, they could have a food intolerance. Food intolerances are completely different from food allergies. They often cause symptoms like diarrhea and gassiness along with constipation and fussiness.

Bottle Feeding Issues

If you're bottle feeding baby and they become fussy when the bottle approaches their mouth, this may be a sign that baby doesn't like the flow of the bottle you're using or the position that you're using to feed them in. 

Babies who are normally breastfed may also fuss at the bottle simply because they prefer the breast. Check out this article for tips on how to overcome this bottle refusal.

Other Causes (Including GERD or Infection)

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, certain symptoms  along with pronounced fussiness may indicate that your baby suffers from GERD (chronic reflux), an infection, an illness, or something else that requires prompt medical attention. If baby shows any of these symptoms in addition to excessive crying, call your pediatrician.

  • Trouble feeding
  • Drinking less milk or formula than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Loose stools
  • Crying that sounds strange
  • Constant crying 
  • Fever (100.4° F or more)
  • Trouble breathing or change in breathing rate
  • Excessive sleepiness/ more sluggishness than normal

What if baby is fussy while you give Ready, Set, Food! to them?

  • If your baby is fussy while you give them Ready, Set, Food!, but they don’t show any allergic reaction symptoms like hives, vomiting, and swelling, keep feeding baby Ready, Set, Food! They are not experiencing an allergic reaction.
  • Even if baby refuses to eat while they cry, this is not a sign that they’re allergic to one of the allergens in Ready, Set, Food!
  • If baby is fussy and constipated while you give Ready, Set, Food!, this is also not an allergic reaction if these are the only issues. You may want to consult a pediatrician, though, because this could be a sign of a food intolerance (especially if they also have diarrhea or are gassy). 
  • If you’re feeding baby Ready, Set, Food! and they are fussy for at least a few days, but you can’t determine how the fussiness started, they may have colic. In this case, you should also continue Ready, Set, Food!, as colic with no other symptoms is not a sign of an allergic reaction.
  • But, if baby is fussy and shows symptoms like hives, vomiting and/or swelling (or any other symptoms of an allergic reaction) shortly after you feed them Ready, Set, Food!, stop feeding Ready, Set, Food! and contact your doctor. These are signs of an allergic reaction.

Rest assured that when food allergy reactions do occur in babies, they tend to be mild or moderate. In fact, the safest time to introduce allergenic foods is during baby’s first year of life, as infants are the age group least likely to experience severe food allergic reactions, and as there have been no food allergy deaths in children under 1 year of age.


Our Chief Allergist and Board Certified Allergist Katie Marks-Cogan M.D, explains how early allergen introduction is inherently safe:



Introduce Allergens Safely and Easily with Ready, Set, Food!

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  

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