Elimination diets and restricted foods can be confusing and stressful for breastfeeding mothers. These breastfeeding tips for infants with food sensitivities or allergies will help take the stress out of feeding your baby.

Check the diapers

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My daughter was about 4 months old when I noticed a change in her bowel movements. More specifically, I noticed a change in the way her poop looked. I called her pediatrician's office immediately, and while I knew I saw something that looked like blood — and no new mother wants to see blood on her sweet baby's bottom — I struggled to describe what else seemed wrong about what I saw when I changed her diaper. I was surprised when the nurse seemed more concerned about the "sort of snotty-looking" description than the "little bits of dark red."

Know common food sensitivities

I took my daughter into the office, the offending diaper gingerly wrapped in a plastic bag, where the pediatrician immediately suggested I eliminate dairy from my diet, as my baby seemed to be exhibiting symptoms of a milk-protein allergy. I immediately fainted, internally at least, as a significant portion of my own diet consisted of cheese and yogurt. The doctor assured me that while it was possible the allergy was to a different food, she recommended breastfeeding mothers start with dairy elimination, as milk protein — not the lactose in milk — is the most common culprit for food sensitivities in infants.

collection of dairy products

She also pointed me to the "dairy cheat sheet" on Kelly Mom to help make sure I eliminated all dairy from my diet — and not simply the obvious culprits found in the dairy section at the grocery store. After eliminating dairy, then soy, then a combination of dairy and soy, we finally banished my daughter's troublesome bowel movements. Other common sources of food sensitivities are eggs, corn and shellfish, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, which notes that eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies.

Don't fear elimination diets

If there is no difference, add it back and remove something else. You don't have to be miserable while finding the answers!

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, otherwise known as Ask Doc G, wants mothers to know that going straight to a complete elimination diet isn't always necessary. She says, "Moms of babies with food allergies often struggle to know what to eat! Remember that cutting out almost all foods leaves you without any way to know what you can eat. Doctors recommend a step-wise elimination diet so that you can see if a particular food — or lack of it — makes a difference. If there is no difference, add it back and remove something else. You don't have to be miserable while finding the answers!"

Work with your doctor or pediatrician

woman breastfeedingI was lucky to have a pediatrician who supported my decision to continue to breastfeed and who worked with me to find a combination of foods that worked for us. Hearing "food allergy" or "food sensitivity" can be disconcerting for breastfeeding mothers, and the concept of eliminating allergenic foods from one's diet can be daunting. After the initial shock of elimination diets, breastfeeding can actually offer moms a great way to control the food sensitivity. Personally, breastfeeding helped me feel confident about finding the source of the allergy. When her pediatrician suggested adding dairy back into my diet a little at a time, I was acutely aware of the return of symptoms as well as the lack of symptoms that signaled she had outgrown the milk-protein allergy.

If you think you notice anything unusual in your baby's diaper, check out our easy guide about what's normal, what's not and what might signal a food allergy.

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