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  • Writer's pictureMegan Dunn

Food Allergies vs Feeding Issue

It can be challenging to figure out if a food in your diet or that has been introduced to baby is causing symptoms or if the symptoms are due to another feeding problem. There are an overlap of many symptoms your baby may be experiencing.

Some symptoms are clearly a food allergy and others are only attributed to a feeding problem. Of course, your baby may be experiencing both - a reaction to foods and have a feeding problem.

Food allergies are not common before 6 months or until baby is taking purees, which is reassuring for many parents. Depending on the food allergy, it may or may not need to be removed from the parent’s diet during lactation. If your baby is experiencing certain symptoms, it will require strict avoidance of the activating food, however.

Food intolerance implies a lack of digestive enzyme so it’s reassuring that the Newborn Screening tests for the most common reasons this can occur.

If you are experiencing just symptoms in the Feeding Issues and Both column then allergies are less likely but still possible.

For example, stooling is listed on every column and the details matter. It is NOT functionally normal to go multiple days or weeks without stooling. It can be a sign of sensitivity, but may occur due to tension (like from difficult birth or tongue tie) or it can be caused by changes in the beneficial bacteria in the gut (like if you received antibiotics for GBS or an infection). If the stool is green, it also is helpful to know if it’s mucousy or slimy, frothy, or if it only happens occasionally. Green stool can occur when baby is sick or after vaccinations because the immune system is activated. If you see this often or most of the time, that means the immune system is activated most of the time which is a symptom which needs to be investigated.

Reflux or spitting up can be normal if it’s just a dribble and baby isn’t having trouble gaining weight from just breastfeeding. But if there is a lot coming up, forcefully or it’s happening after most feeds, it can indicate a sensitivity or that baby is swallowing air (from a too fast flow or tongue tie).

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