You’ve changed your entire diet to remove the number one infant food allergen — dairy. You’re hoping it’ll improve your precious little one’s symptoms. Maybe you’ve seen some improvement, but not enough. Or maybe you haven’t had any.
What’s the second most commonly recommended food to remove from your diet while you’re breastfeeding your baby with food allergies or intolerances? Soy (also known as soya).
If you thought removing dairy from your diet was difficult, you’ll soon realize soy is in everything! It can be so overwhelming and challenging figuring out what you can eat. And what soy-free foods will actually keep you nourished while you continue to breastfeed?
Free to Feed helps guide parents like you to navigate your path of infant food reactivity. We know it’s a confusing and stressful time — and we’re here to help. We’re giving you the most important information about soy to help you successfully cut it from your diet. It’s all about helping that sweet baby of yours too!
What Is Soy and How Do I Avoid It For My Baby?
Soy, soybean, and soya are all the same thing – a type of legume that provides a good source of protein and other nutrients. Soy’s labeled under many different names, adding to the confusion when trying to eliminate it from your diet and continue breast or body feeding your baby.
When reading labels – which may seem like a new hobby of yours since discovering your baby has food allergies — you may notice “soybean oil” and “soy lecithin” in many foods you have at home. These types of soy products are highly processed and contain less of the actual soy protein. And remember, it’s the proteins in foods that cause a reaction in your baby.
Because soybean oil and soy lecithin are highly processed, medical professionals will often say it won’t cause an allergic response or reaction – but every baby has different sensitivity levels to food proteins. In fact, various soybean products including sprouts, soy sauce, hydrolyzed soy protein tofu, miso, soy oil, and lecithin all retain some of their allergenic properties and reactions to soy lecithin and oil have also been reported .
Often the best bet is to strictly eliminate to get to baseline and then work with a professional on a specific reintroduction strategy to determine what, if any, soy your little CAN tolerate.
Free to Feed has been helping families for years work through their baby’s reactivity. We have also found through consultations and research that some babies react to these types of soy and some do not. You won’t know until you try for your baby.
Since soy is one of the top allergies in the adult population, it’s labeled on most foods. We say most because of course, it’s not all the time — making our lives harder. It won’t always be a nice bold label on packaged foods. Often the food allergy community calls these covert ingredients "hidden" allergens.
In fact, United States manufacturers get to decide what qualifies as worthy of labeling based on vague guidelines. The ONLY free from claim defined by the FDA is "Gluten Free" which means the product must have less than 20 parts per million of gluten. "Dairy Free" "Soy Free" "Wheat Free" and others are not defined and don't mean jack .
Some Common Terms for Soy include:
Really, There Are Hidden Names for Soy?
Yes. And we’re so sorry it’s so confusing. But now you know, which makes it a little easier to spot this sneaky allergen. Soy can have “hidden names” that make it harder to cut out of your diet. Here are just a few of the “hidden names” soy may be found under:
If we go back to your new hobby of label reading, you’ll find hidden soy in almost every packaged food. This is what makes cutting soy out of your diet so difficult.
And maybe one of the hardest parts about cutting soy that we haven’t mentioned yet… Eating outside food becomes almost impossible because soy is used in cooking and preparing dishes. Say goodbye to your spouse picking up dinner on the way home. Your soy-free options are extremely limited. But you’d do anything to help alleviate your baby’s symptoms, and we feel that.
If you thought you’ve been avoiding soy, and are just now realizing… maybe it’s in your protein shake or your vitamins – hang tight, and keep reading. Free to Feed is here to help!
Important side-note: Please don’t blame yourself, this is confusing stuff.
Common Symptoms of Soy Allergies or Intolerances in Your Baby
Like dairy or any other infant food allergy, symptoms can vary. Some babies only have one, while others have a combination of many.
The main symptoms of food allergies in babies are: 
Mucousy stool or bloody stool
Failure to thrive
And some reactions as severe as lethargy or airway restriction. You’re probably thinking, “great, how am I ever going to do this?! I just want to find out if my baby does react to soy.” Well, getting a definitive diagnosis can be hard.
How Do You Get a Soy Allergy Diagnosis For Your Baby?
If you’ve got yourself a newborn or a tiny little nugget under 6 months of age, allergy testing isn’t recommended because results aren’t reliable at younger ages.  So up until then, removing all soy products from your diet is the best way to see how your baby changes. You should see some type of improvement within 5 days after eliminating all soy products from your diet.
You also have to keep in mind the big difference between a soy IgE mediated allergy and a soy non-IgE mediated allergy. A non-IgE mediated allergy, which is the most common of the two in very young children, will not show a positive test result because current testing methods only detect IgE mediated responses.
If your baby is older than 6 months and you have a skin prick test done and soy doesn’t show up, it doesn’t mean you can go eat all the soy sauce. It likely means that your baby is reactive to soy in a non-IgE mediated response - which is good news because it will likely be outgrown.
If we just confused you, please make sure you read our blog, What You Need To Know About Infant Food Allergies here. This blog explains the difference between the two and why they’re important.
Free to Feed Is Here To Help You Succeed in Breastfeeding Your Baby With Food Allergies
Removing soy from your diet is an inconvenience, to say the least. As if caring for a baby wasn’t hard enough! If you’re determined to continue breast or body feeding your baby – we’re determined to help you succeed!
We’re so proud and happy to say Free to Feed is currently doing the first-ever study looking at cow’s milk protein and soy transfer to human milk! Imagine knowing your milk doesn’t contain soy – you’d finally be Free to Feed.
This is what our allergen detection kit for human milk is all about! Join the waitlist here. Our groundbreaking work is for you, your baby, and the future of infant food allergies.
If you want a personalized game plan for removing soy and possible other allergens from your diet, consider a one-on-one consult. The consults help you and your baby. If you’re feeling lost or cutting foods left and right, or are ready to reintroduce allergens into the baby's diet, we’ll walk you through the minefield.
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You really are doing a great job. Remember you’re not alone and hang in there!