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Food Allergies in Breastfed Babies: Signs and What to Do

Food Allergies in Breastfed Babies Signs and What to Do

Food allergies in breastfed babies can present symptoms shortly after they are fed, ranging from mild to severe.

They may exhibit hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and breathing difficulties.

It may seem over the top, but it’s better to take preventive measures than be hysterical when looking for a solution once something happens to their babies. 

So read on and learn the common allergenic foods to avoid, suitable alternatives, what steps to take if you notice symptoms, and more. 

Signs That Your Baby Has a Food Allergy

Signs That Your Baby Has a Food Allergy

A food allergy is an immune system overreaction to certain foods.

These types of allergies are different from food intolerance. Food allergies involve the immune system, while food intolerances do not.

When a baby with a food allergy consumes allergenic food, their immune system is likely to cause skin reactions like swelling or redness. In worse cases, they may experience life-threatening symptoms.

Recognizing the signs of a food allergy in your breastfed baby is crucial for early intervention and proper management. 

Symptoms may vary, but here are allergy signs you should watch for: 

  • Skin reactions – Look for hives, rashes, eczema, or general skin irritation. 
  • Digestive issues – Frequent spitting up, reflux, diarrhea, or constipation may indicate a food allergy.
  • Respiratory symptoms – Wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing during or after feeding.
  • Unexplained crying or irritability – Baby is fussy, restless, or inconsolable after breastfeeding.
  • Swelling – Observe for lips, face, tongue, or throat swelling. 

Severe signs include difficulty breathing, vomiting, or diarrhea. If the baby exhibits these allergic reaction symptoms, immediately bring them to the doctor.  

Common Foods That Cause Allergies

Common Foods That Cause Allergies

There are no specific food avoidance recommendations during breastfeeding to prevent allergies.

If your child develops symptoms related to your diet, eliminating those allergenic foods is not the solution to alleviate them.

Nonetheless, babies can still develop allergies to foods they eat while they are breastfed. 

Foods to Avoid if You Suspect Allergies

Knowing the common trigger foods is crucial if you suspect food allergies in your baby.

Common allergic foods include:

  • Cows’ milk
  • Eggs
  • Soybeans, peas, and chickpeas
  • Tree nuts and peanuts
  • Shellfish (prawns, crab, and lobster)
  • Wheat

If you or any family have other allergies, asthma, or eczema, your baby will likely have a slightly higher chance of getting that same food allergy.

What to Eat if Your Baby Has Allergies

When breastfeeding a baby with allergies, change your diet by eliminating dairy products. 

You should instead incorporate alternative protein sources like fish, beef, chicken, eggs, nuts, and beans. 

Consider calcium-fortified plant-based milk or a supplement. Continue taking a multivitamin, read labels, and eliminate other allergenic foods if necessary. 

Breast milk provides important health benefits, and there is no need to wean your baby due to allergies. 

Adjusting your diet allows you to continue breastfeeding until you are both ready to transition. 

What to Do if You Notice Symptoms of Food Allergy

What to Do if You Notice Symptoms of Food Allergy

Seek medical attention as soon as you notice signs of food allergy in your baby.

Avoiding the allergen is the only way to manage food allergies.

If your baby does accidentally eat the food, the doctor may prescribe medication to help relieve the symptoms.

Here are some key points to consider regarding your diet if your baby has allergies:

  1. Substitute dairy with alternative protein sources like fish, beef, chicken, eggs, nuts, and beans.
  2. Choose calcium-fortified plant-based milk or take a calcium supplement.
  3. Continue allergen-free multivitamins and check medication labels for allergens.
  4. Allow time for improvement on a dairy-free diet; consider eliminating other allergens if needed.
  5. Some babies may be allergic to multiple foods, but most outgrow allergies by one-year-old.
  6. Breast milk provides important benefits like infection protection and long-term health advantages.
  7. No need to wean due to allergies; modifying your diet allows continued breastfeeding.

Some moms track their food and the baby’s reaction in a journal to show it to their doctors to identify the allergen and develop a plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

From identifying signs of allergies to navigating dietary adjustments, let’s look at these FAQs that can help you better understand and manage your baby’s allergies.

I’m sure fellow parents will appreciate this extra insight and knowledge.

Can Babies Be Allergic to Breastmilk?

Breast milk itself does not typically cause allergic reactions in nursing infants. The natural proteins in breast milk are mild and generally well-tolerated by babies. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) confirms that breastfeeding does not cause allergies in babies. It instead can even contribute to preventing future food allergies.

Research from the 1980s also showed that colicky babies were not affected by their mother’s milk. 

Therefore, babies can be sensitive to breast milk food particles—but not breast milk itself.

What’s the Most Common Allergy in Breastfed Babies?

The most common allergy in breastfed babies is cow’s milk allergy (CMPA or CMA).

It occurs when the baby’s immune system reacts to proteins found in cow’s milk and dairy products — even with babies not exclusively breastfed (combined feeding).

CMA can trigger symptoms like digestive problems, skin issues, respiratory distress, and irritability.

It typically develops when cows’ milk is first introduced into your baby’s diet in formula or when your baby starts eating solids.

Fortunately, certain allergies can be outgrown over time. 

For example, most children outgrow cow’s milk protein allergy and allergies to eggs, soy, wheat, and other food allergens by age 3. 

However, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish tend to persist into adulthood.

What Are Common Symptoms of Dairy Allergy in Breastfed Babies?

Dairy allergy and breast milk allergy are two different conditions, but they can cause similar symptoms in babies.

Dairy allergy is a reaction to cow’s milk proteins that can pass through breast milk to babies. 

Breast milk allergy is an allergic reaction to foods in a mother’s diet that can pass through breast milk to babies.

Dairy allergy can manifest as colic, with prolonged periods of crying, particularly common in mix-fed babies. 

There can also be swelling on the lips, face, tongue, or throat; severe cases can obstruct the airways and lead to breathing difficulties.

If you have to mix-feed your baby, there are hypoallergenic formulas available. They are specifically designed for babies with food allergies. 

These formulas are made with proteins that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Can Cereal Cause Food Allergies in Breastfed Babies? 

Infant cereal is unlikely to cause food allergies in breastfed or mixed-fed babies. 

However, potential allergenic ingredients in infant cereal, such as wheat, soy, or dairy, can trigger allergic reactions in breastfed babies.

Expert moms recommended the two best brands when it comes to baby food. Gerber and Cerelac are most moms’ and babies’ favorites. 

It is important to introduce new foods gradually and monitor for any signs of allergic reactions in your baby. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents should start feeding babies with solids after six months of age. 

Plus, the digestive system of babies under six months is still maturing. This is why they still have an increased vulnerability to certain allergies.


Food allergies are more common in fully breastfed babies. 

Remember the preventive tips in this article if you are worried about your baby developing these allergies.

If your baby has a food allergy, see a doctor promptly. The doctor can diagnose your baby’s allergy and recommend treatment.

Recognizing the signs of food allergies is essential for early detection and appropriate cure. 

Josie Mariano
Josie Mariano

Hello, my name is Josie Mariano, and I’m proud to say I’m a soon-to-be mom.
Although my partner and I are still waiting for our firstborn to arrive, we’re already doing whatever it takes to prepare for our baby’s needs.
I’ve been joining a lot of parenting forums and asking my doctors for advice on how to prepare for my baby. They’ve all been very informative and I was able to spot the areas I still need to work on.
At the same time, I also rely on my mom for tips on what to do during my pregnancy journey.
With everything that I’ve learned so far, I’d like to share these experiences to fellow parents and soon-to-be parents!