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Can Babies Be Allergic to Breast Milk? [What You Should Know]

Can Babies Be Allergic to Breast Milk_ [What You Should Know]

Nowadays, food allergies are very common among people. 4% of all adults have an allergy, with 4-6% of all children being especially vulnerable.

This endemic is especially true regarding cow’s milk. Cow’s milk can trigger lactose intolerance or a cow milk allergy, making your poor baby unwell.

However, do these concerns extend to breast milk, a superfood touted by the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP)?

We’ll address your worries by discussing if babies can even be allergic to breast milk in the first place. 

Can Babies Be Allergic to Breast Milk?

NO, babies can never be allergic to breast milk. Breast milk simply does not have the same number of lactose protein, which triggers the allergic reaction in either case.

Three out of a hundred exclusively breastfed babies who get allergies are more likely to have a Cow’s Milk Allergy (CWA) than anything. Being allergic to breastmilk by itself is unheard of.

The AAP calls breast milk a superfood because the milk contains every nutrient, fluid, and calorie needed for a baby’s growth. It’s also free and as natural as it gets.

Dr. Jackie Bjalec, a pediatric allergist, has noted that babies are rarely allergic to only microscopic amounts of certain proteins found in breast milk.

As a mother, it’s natural to feel concerned about what you eat, but as long as you have a balanced diet. The biggest worry should be a fussy baby during feeding with any milk.

When in doubt, hypoallergenic baby formula can act as a surefire way to ensure your baby’s health and nutrition.

Are Food Allergens Passed Through Breast Milk?

Are Food Allergens Passed Through Breast Milk

NO, allergens do not get passed through our breast milk. Only the vitamins and nutrients of a healthy diet are what gets passed into our children.

In fact, Dr. Bjalec has stated, “Very little protein is passed through the breast milk and into your baby.” Your baby is safe from the lactose proteins that would trigger their allergic reactions.

We mommies can even eat food they are allergic to, and our milk is still safe for them. That is how little allergen ends up in our milk if they are allergic.

A study has even encouraged that removing food allergic to the baby but not the mother would be unwise. Any form of nutrition missed is a bigger concern.

They are completely fine when your baby is not fretting or having an upset stomach. Dr. Bjalec agreed that food allergy symptoms are never truly subtle.

According to the AAP, here are the most common forms of food allergies;

  • Peanuts
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat

How Can I Treat My Baby’s Allergy?

How Can I Treat My Baby’s Allergy

My biggest relief is knowing that CWA is ultimately curable. Most babies with the allergy outgrew it by the time they turn five years old.

Lactose intolerance can easily be treated by lessening or removing dairy from your child’s diet. All it takes is a small amount of lactose in any kind of milk to trigger a reaction.

Soy and animal milk are often guilty of this issue. In my experience, nuts milk, especially oats milk, has been an effective substitute in my child’s daily diet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The smallest amount of food before triggering an allergic reaction is known as a “threshold” amount.

Milk is often highlighted on the labels of products due to food allergies. There are many dairy-free baby formulas available for you to consider.

Can I Protect My Baby by Avoiding Common Food Allergens?

The best way to protect your baby would be to simply stick to breast milk and keep a healthy diet. Our breast milk is only as healthy as we are, so restricting our diets is actually risky.

Should you ever place yourself on a more restricted diet, you should keep in mind the risks. You can potentially be denying your child nutrients for development.

Always talk to your doctor beforehand about what to remove from your diet and for food alternative recommendations.

I can confirm that breastfeeding is exhausting from years of practice with multiple kids. The process takes a lot of time and can leave your nipples feeling very sore.

Thus, other mothers and I recommend that you pace yourself steadily and not overexert yourself. Caring for yourself is the best way to provide for your babies.


Another way would be to be attentive to crying or fuss while feeding, a common sign of colic. Remove a specific kind of food should these reactions be consistent with your baby.

When Should I Consult a Doctor Regarding Food Allergies?

When Should I Consult a Doctor Regarding Food Allergies

The best time to contact your pediatrician should be when serious symptoms appear. These symptoms are never subtle and are always noticeable.

The worst symptoms would be swelling, shortness of breath, etc., from CWA due to their potential lethality, especially against your still-developing baby.

The more “minor” symptoms, such as upset stomachs or rashes, bless my heart, only last for less than 24 hours. 

Should these symptoms happen daily and are long-lasting, it may be colic instead of food sensitivity. 

I cannot stress the importance of a professional diagnosis before treatment.

This may be a sign to remove certain food types. Coordinate with your doctor, especially when timing elimination diets for baby formula alternatives and timing.

Pediatricians often recommend soy milk formula as an effective alternative. The milk doesn’t have lactose, has the amino acids for development, and is nutrient-rich. 


Your fears and concerns are always valid when it comes to the safety of your child. Remember to let yourself relax as your baby develops more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although you know how to care for your baby and yourself against allergens, here are tidbits I learned after much trial and error against food allergies.

What’s the Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance?

The main difference between a CWA and lactose intolerance is how they are triggered by cow’s milk, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAI)

  • AAAI says food allergy is an immunity issue detecting the proteins as foreign intruders to expel. Their symptoms include excessive vomiting, swelling, and shortness of breath. 
  • AAAI says food intolerance is mainly a digestive issue with an inability to break down lactose. Their symptoms include bloody stool, diarrhea, gassiness, or stomach aches.

Between the two, a dairy food allergy would be more concerning. The immune system’s overreaction results in potentially life-threatening symptoms.

These life-threatening symptoms include swelling on the neck, aggressive hives, and shortness of breath. All especially dangerous for a baby with a still-developing respiratory system.

In comparison, food tolerance is only a minor inconvenience for the baby. The worst case possible is a bloody stool or a bad stomach, at the very least.

Indeed, the lactose-free formula is a lifesaver because it provides alternative breastfeeding and minimizes your worry about lactose allergies.

Does Breastfeeding Lower the Risk of Food Allergies?

YES!

Exclusively breastfeeding for the baby’s first six months lessens the risk of food allergies. This benefit is even extended to families with a history of food allergies and eczema.

In comparison, elimination diets may help prevent allergies but there is no evidence that it lessens the potential for allergies. Although it can help prevent eczema outbreaks.

Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risk of viral or chronic diseases. It also improves sensory and cognitive development in your child.

Breast milk can even soothe acne and rashes due to lauric acid within. Breast milk also has endorphins inside to ease pain in the human body.

Conclusion

We, mothers, do everything we can to ensure our babies grow up comfortably and consistently. Our breastmilk is only as effective as we are, after all.

Milk allergies will always be a concern not only for its symptoms, lethal or otherwise. The methods to prevent such discomforts will take personal precision and pediatric guidance.

Yes, babies will never be allergic to a mother’s breast milk. Yet it will never exempt them from regular milk allergies or intolerances, only lessen the risk.

The work can be stressful and surprisingly tense, but the results are worth it. Just so our baby can have a good meal without stress.

Nayna Llenos
Nayna Llenos

Hi, I’m Nayna!
I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I’m lucky and blessed to have two wonderful children to care for and love.
Despite this blessing, there are times wherein I do wonder if I truly am the mother my children need. Am I giving them the right food, care, and discipline to them?
But that is the beauty of parenting — you grow along with your children as they flourish to be their wonderful selves!
I wish to share my experiences with motherhood and how these tips can help you in your parenting journey.
I hope my advices and experiences will prove useful to you and that you have a smooth and wonderful journey as a mother!