Caring for an infant with food allergies or intolerances can be rough. They have visible symptoms of discomfort such as gas, colic, eczema, and more. You want fast results but don’t know where to start.
You end up searching on Dr. Google for answers since you aren’t getting ones from the medical field. This is when you find out there are many diets out there for infant allergies or intolerances.
So you’ve started the search, but now you’re overwhelmed with the results. You start asking yourself questions like:
What diet works the fastest?
What diet has strong scientific evidence?
What diet can I still actually eat on while breastfeeding?
It’s important to keep the top 12 infant food allergies and intolerances in mind when reviewing each of these diets.
The top 12 infant food allergies include:
Cow’s Milk Protein
We’re going to take a look at a few of the major diets targeted at mothers with infants that have allergies or intolerances. We’ll give you the basics of each diet and why they don't work.
Dr. Sears Diet
Dr. Sears is a pediatrician who has contributed to the pediatric world for over 50 years. You’ll find an elimination diet in his recommendations for babies who are thought to have food sensitivities while a mother is breastfeeding.
His elimination diet recommends at least two weeks free of offending foods to “clear out of your system.” You should know our thoughts on this and if you don’t read our blog What Is The Truth About How Long Proteins Last In Your Breastmilk?
Foods allowed in Dr. Sears diet:
Range fed turkey and lamb
Potatoes and sweet potatoes
Rice and millet
Cooked green and yellow squash
Pears and pear juice
It’s recommended to drink a rice-based beverage and avoid all drinks containing caffeine. After the two weeks are over you would start to gradually add in other foods in your diet, one at a time.
While this diet does eliminate a lot of infant allergies, it includes eating rice – and often. Rice is one of the top 12 infant food allergies and therefore doesn’t make the cut in finding your baby's trigger food.
Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet
You may see the word autoimmune and be scared that your baby could have an autoimmune disease. When it comes to food allergies and intolerances with your baby this isn't the case.
The thought is to reduce inflammation (caused from the immune system) in the body and this could help your baby’s symptoms. Research has shown the AIP diet helps inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients who have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, but not specifically breastfeeding mothers .
Foods to avoid on AIP Diet:
Nuts and seeds
Tobacco, alcohol, coffee, oils, food additives, refined and processed sugars
Certain medications (ibuprofen, high dose aspirin, and others)
The recommended length of the diet varies. In the study of IDB patients, there was a 6 week elimination period and 5 week maintenance period . After the elimination, you’d reintroduce foods slowly waiting 5 to 6 days between each new food.
This diet still allows chicken and beef which are in the top 12 infant food allergies. Since the top 12 infant food allergies differ from adults it’s important to take this into consideration when altering your diet.
To understand the oxidative diet it helps to understand the science of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body leading to inflammation. Long term inflammation can lead to significant health problems.
It’s been shown that a diet high in carbohydrates, animal protein (red meat), and saturated fat can lead to more ROS and inflammation . Continuous inflammation in the body and oxidative stress leads to an increased risk of diabetes and cancer cells .
Recommendations for this diet include:
How does this relate to your baby?
The thought would be to decrease inflammation in the body (your breastmilk) and in turn, help with your infants symptoms.
The science doesn’t show this directly relating to your breastmilk. In fact, breast milk has been shown (in more than one study) to have more antioxidant properties leading to lowering an infants oxidative stress .
We all know eating a balanced diet is best for overall health, but the oxidative diet is not geared towards breastfeeding mothers who have infants with allergies or intolerances.
When you think of histamine, the majority of people think of allergies and antihistamine pills to help. Histamines release in the body in response to allergies. Histamine intolerance (HI) is thought to be too much histamine being released in the body.
Small studies have found symptoms of HI being abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and skin rash . Which might seem to make sense with your baby since these also fall in line with food allergies or intolerance symptoms.
Histamines are found in the everyday foods we eat. This particular diet still allows many infant food allergies including; eggs, butter, corn, legumes, oats and more. Eggs and butter are in the top 4 infant allergies.
Butter is technically dairy, which is the most common allergy or intolerance for babies. The science simply isn’t there. You can read more about rare histamine disorders in our coffee article!
Pretty sure this is your little's issue? Test it out! Try consuming something high in histamines but low in infant food allergy proteins like kombucha.
Salicylic acid is from a group of chemicals called salicylates. They are found naturally in some foods and plants. Plants use them as part of a protective defense against pathogens and environmental stress .
They are also made in products like aspirin, naproxen, and food preservatives. The thought behind this diet is an overconsumption of salicylic acid and removing this from your diet may help your baby.
A study was done showing that an infant would need to drink more than 25 liters of breastmilk at its peak concentration to consume one aspirin . This is more than 800 ounces!
Considering we consume this on a regular basis from foods, plants, and in small quantities when taking a medication, there isn’t enough in our breastmilk to harm our baby.
If you have a headache, take that aspirin Mama, it’s okay.
Don’t Be Fooled Out of Fear For Your Little One
It can be hard on the body and mind having a baby with allergies and intolerances. But it doesn’t help you trying to cut so many foods that you’re doing damage to your own health or your precious milk supply.
None of these diets have enough scientific evidence to back them that they specifically work for infant allergies. As we pointed out, all of them contain eating at least one of the top 12 infant allergy foods.
Being a mother has enough challenges. Food doesn’t need to be another one. When it comes to your baby, you’ll do anything for them, including being unrealistic and trying to cut almost all food groups out of your diet to find the trigger.
It’s not necessary. You don’t have to starve yourself or risk your health. It’s possible to continue to eat a healthy balanced diet while finding your baby's triggers.
Sign up for a consultation with Dr. Trill to come up with a game plan specifically for you and your baby.