What to do for allergies while breastfeeding

A little percentage of breastfeeding mothers notice an obvious difference in their babys behavior and/or health when they eat certain foods. Cow’s milk products are the most common problem foods and the only foods conclusively linked by research to fussiness/gassiness in babies, but some babies do react to other foods. Food sensitivities in breastfed babies are not almost as common as numerous breastfeeding mothers own been led to ponder, however.

If a breastfed baby is sensitive to a specific food, then he may be fussy after feedings, weep inconsolably for endless periods, or sleep little and wake suddenly with obvious discomfort.

There may be a family history of allergies. Other signs of a food allergy may include: rash, hives, eczema, sore bottom, dry skin; wheezing or asthma; congestion or cold-like symptoms; red, itchy eyes; ear infections; irritability, fussiness, colic; intestinal upsets, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea, or green stools with mucus or blood.

The severity of a food reaction is generally related to the degree of baby’s sensitivity and to the quantity of the problem food that mom ate—the more food eaten and the greater baby’s sensitivity, the more severe the reaction. Food reactions may happen within minutes, but symptoms in breastfed babies more commonly show up hours after exposure.

If baby has an acute reaction to a new food, or to a food that mom ate a large quantity of, then he will probably be back to normal within a couple of hours. If baby is sensitive to a food that mom eats frequently, symptoms may be ongoing.

Hay fever remedies

When you seek advice from your pharmacist, GP or health visitor they will take into account factors such as:

  1. how mild or severe your symptoms are – if your symptoms are mild, you may be capable to manage without treatment
  2. how effective the medicine is 
  3. how much of the medicine passes to your baby through your breast milk

If you take hay fever medicine while you’re breastfeeding, you should take the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time, unless your healthcare professional gives you other advice.

Try topical treatments first.

These are medicines that you don’t need to swallow such as nasal sprays and eyedrops.

Corticosteroid nasal sprays assist to unblock your nose and sinuses. They’re unlikely to pass into your breast milk and only in low amounts.

Sodium cromoglicate eyedrops relieve the redness, itchiness and watering of your eyes. It’s unlikely that sodium cromoglicate passes into your breast milk.

Loratadine or cetirizine are the antihistamine tablets recommended if you’re breastfeeding. They can own diverse brand names, so speak to your pharmacist for advice. These are non-drowsy antihistamines – you should avoid using antihistamines that make you drowsy (sedating) as they can affect your baby if used for more than a short time.

Exclusive breastfeeding or first baby formula is recommended for around the first 6 months of life.

If your baby has a cow’s milk allergy and is not being breastfed, talk to your GP about what helpful of formula to give your baby.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women don’t need to avoid foods that can trigger allergic reactions (including peanuts), unless you’re allergic to them.

If your baby already has an allergy such as a diagnosed food allergy or eczema, or if you own a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma or hay-fever, you may need to be particularly careful when introducing foods, so talk to your GP or health visitor first.

Introducing foods that could trigger allergy

When you start introducing solid foods to your baby from around 6 months ancient, introduce the foods that can trigger allergic reactions one at a time and in extremely little amounts so that you can spot any reaction.

These foods are:

  1. nuts and peanuts (serve them crushed or ground)
  2. seeds (serve them crushed or ground)
  3. shellfish (don’t serve raw or lightly cooked)
  4. soya
  5. eggs (eggs without a red lion stamp should not be eaten raw or lightly cooked)
  6. cows’ milk
  7. foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley and rye
  8. fish

See more about foods to avoid giving babies and young children.

These foods can be introduced from around 6 months as part of your baby’s diet, just love any other foods.

Once introduced and if tolerated, these foods should become part of your baby’s usual diet to minimise the risk of allergy.

What to do for allergies while breastfeeding

Evidence has shown that delaying the introduction of peanut and hen’s eggs beyond 6 to 12 months may increase the risk of developing an allergy to these foods.

Lots of children outgrow their allergies to milk or eggs, but a peanut allergy is generally lifelong.

If your kid has a food allergy, read food labels carefully.

Avoid foods if you are not certain whether they contain the food your kid is allergic to.

Normal Baby Fussiness

Most baby fussiness is normal for a young baby, and is not related to foods in moms diet. If your baby is sensitive to something you are eating, you will most likely notice other symptoms in addition to fussiness, such as excessive spitting up or vomiting, colic, rash or persistent congestion.

Fussiness that is not accompanied by other symptoms and calms with more frequent nursing is probably not food-related.

Read more here about normal baby fussiness.

Food additives and children

Food contains additives for numerous reasons, such as to preserve it, to help make it safe to eat for longer, and to give colour or texture.

All food additives go through strict safety testing before they can be used.

What to do for allergies while breastfeeding

Food labelling must clearly show additives in the list of ingredients, including their name or «E» number and their function, such as «colour» or «preservative».

A few people own adverse reactions to some food additives, love sulphites, but reactions to ordinary foods, such as milk or soya, are much more common.

Read more about food colours and hyperactivity.

Further information

Sheet final reviewed: 24 July
Next review due: 24 July

Joy Anderson BSc (Nutrition) PostgradDipDiet APD IBCLC ABA breastfeeding counsellor

It has been known for a endless time that foods the mom eats can affect the make-up of her breastmilk.

We know that flavours from yourdiet go through breastmilk1, but food proteins2 and other food chemicals3 do as well.

What to do for allergies while breastfeeding

Ifyour baby is allergic or intolerant to traces of foods from your diet, then he may own adverse reactions.4

This is diverse to lactose intolerance, as lactose is a major component of breastmilk and is made in the breast; it doesn’t come from your diet. However, a baby may develop secondary lactose intolerance as a result of allergy or intolerance tofoods coming through the breastmilk. For more information, see the Lactose intolerance and the breastfed baby article.

Can you reduce the risk of allergy?

If you own a family history of allergy, attempt to make certain he is exclusively breastfed for at least the first 4 months and preferably 6 months, to reduce the risk that he will become allergic to foods.5 There is not enough evidence that you avoiding foods in pregnancy or breastfeeding will reduce the risk of your baby becoming allergic.

Unless your baby is already reacting, then don’t restrict yourdiet.6

Your baby should start solids at around6 months, mainly as he will need a new source of iron and zinc in his diet.7 As far as allergies go, it is thought to be best to introduce themajor allergenic foods as soon as possible, provided your baby is not already showing reactions to the specific food.8 These foods include cows’ milk, soy, wheat, eggs, nuts and fish.

It is also best for your baby to continue breasfeeding as newfoods are introduced as a way to reduce the risk of allergy.9

Could it be something other than food?

Before assuming your unsettled baby is suffering from a reaction to foodand you consider altering your diet, it is really significant to law out other potential causes first. These include low milk supply, lactose overload from too much milk (see the Lactose overload in babies article) and medical conditions, including gastro-oesophageal reflux, although this can be also associated with food allergy or intolerance, especially to cows’ milk.10

Consider whether it might even be just normal newborn baby behaviour, as your little one adjusts to life exterior the womb — see Cluster feeding and fussing babiesand Fussy periods and wonder weeks.

Also, does your baby own any other symptoms as well, love a rash or odd-looking poos? Own your baby checked by your doctor in case there is anything medical that is causing your baby to be unsettled. It could be something as diverse as an ear or throat infection and nothing to do with your diet.

If you own ruled out every of these causes and would love to check if it is your diet, it is significant to consult a health professional before changing your diet. Particularly when you are breastfeeding, you need your nutrients and if you start avoiding foods, you will need to make up for what you are missing by eating diverse foods.

A dietitian familiar with food intolerances would be the best type of health professional to guide you. You don’t need a GP referral to see a dietitian, but your GP may be capable to recommend one. Or check out the ‘Find an Accredited Practising Dietitian’ sheet on the Dietitians Association of Australia website.

What is food allergy?

There are diverse types of food sensitivity in babies, including food allergy and food intolerance. The term ‘allergy’ generally refers to reactionsthat involve the immune system.

In this case, a little quantity of an allergen (in this case food) can trigger a major reaction.

Allergic type reactions can happen either fairly quickly after a feed, such as vomiting/reflux or a rash, or happen hours or days later, such as blood in the bowel motions or eczema. The most common foods causing these reactions are the same major allergens listed above (cows’ milk, soy, wheat, eggs, nuts, fish).

What is food intolerance?

Reactions caused by food intolerance do not involve the immune system and might be fairly delayed, such as appearing 24–48 hours or more after your baby was exposed to the food.

There is also a ‘dose-effect’, where a little quantity won’t cause a reaction but a larger quantity might, so a more graded effect.

A baby with food intolerance reacts to food chemicals coming through the breastmilk from his mother’s diet.3 These include food additives and natural food chemicals found in everyday healthy foods — generally the substances in foods that give them flavour — as well as potentially in some staple foods, such as dairy products, soy and some grains.

Common symptoms in breastfed babies

Although food-intolerance reactions do not involve the immune system, as allergy does, the symptoms in breastfed babies may be fairly similar.

The symptoms of food allergy or food intolerance commonly include colic/wind in the bowel; gastro-oesophageal reflux; green, mucousy bowel motions; eczema; and a wakeful baby who appears to be in pain.

What to do for allergies while breastfeeding

Some babies possibly own both food allergy and food intolerance.

Starting solids if your baby is allergic or intolerant

If you discover your baby reacts to foods in your diet, you may need to be additional careful when introducing solids. Reactions after eating foods directly can be more serious than when the baby was reacting through breastmilk. If you ponder your baby is having allergic reactions, it is vital to consult your doctor before introducing the more risky foods listed above.

What to do for allergies while breastfeeding

As well as advice regarding tyour diet, a dietitian can also help with advice on solids for your baby.

Breastfeeding: and reflux booklet

Breastfeeding: and reflux combines the experiences of numerous families with the latest research into Gastro-oesophageal Reflux in babies.


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What to do for allergies while breastfeeding

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© Australian Breastfeeding Association May

The information on this website does not replace advice from your health care providers.

How closely do I need to watch what I eat?

Most babies own no problems with anything that mom eats. Its generally recommended that you eat whatever you love, whenever you love, in the amounts that you love and continue to do this unless you notice an obvious reaction in your baby.

There is no list of foods that every nursing mom should avoid because most nursing mothers can eat anything they desire, and because the babies who are sensitive to certain foods are each unique what bothers one may not annoy another.

How will I know if my kid has a food allergy?

An allergic reaction can consist of 1 or more of the following:

  1. wheezing and shortness of breath
  2. diarrhoea or vomiting
  3. itchy skin or rash
  4. a cough
  5. swollen lips and throat
  6. itchy throat and tongue
  7. runny or blocked nose
  8. sore, red and itchy eyes

In a few cases, foods can cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) that can be life-threatening.

Get medical advice if you ponder your kid is having an allergic reaction to a specific food.

Don’t be tempted to experiment by cutting out a major food, such as milk, because this could lead to your kid not getting the nutrients they need. Talk to your health visitor or GP, who may refer you to a registered dietitian.