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How do you breastfeed when your baby is allergic to something you are eating?

Most importantly: Please try not to blame yourself for this, mama.

How do you breastfeed when your baby is allergic to something you are eating?

Finding out that your baby is allergic to something in your breast milk is incredibly stressful and difficult. Having to eliminate yummy foods from your diet to try to figure out which food is the culprit and thinking something you are ingesting could be causing your little one discomfort is just awful. Its especially frustrating when you know you are doing the very BEST thing for your baby by breastfeeding, yet, you see your LO squirming in pain.


We as mamas want to do everything we can to make our babies thrive and feel comfortable. The good news is that once you’ve figured out that it’s food that’s causing all these issues, it can be an enormous relief, you can make changes to fix it, and it can help you feel empowered as a mama again.

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Please keep in mind that this topic is deep and complex, with allergies often being misdiagnosed because symptoms are varied. A fussy baby can be mistaken for having a food allergy because everyone needs an answer to why the baby wont stop crying. The truth is, its super unlikely that something you are eating is the culprit. “In fact, only two or three out of every one hundred babies who are exclusively breastfed demonstrate an allergic reaction—and that’s most often to the cow’s milk in their mother’s diet.”

However, if your child IS diagnosed, here’s what you need to know about allergies and breastfeeding:

1. Allergies occur when your body perceives a potentially harmless substance as an invader. A newborn who has never had anything but his mother’s breast milk can still show signs of allergy because of the foods you are eating.

2. Common signs and symptoms of an allergy include:

  • Eczema (or other skin reactions like a rash or cradle cap or hives)
  • Stools that are loose, watery, green*, more frequent, or contain blood.
  • Cramping, constipation, bloating, gas, heartburn, reflux, vomiting.
  • Nasal congestion
  • Persistent ear infections
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Slow or stalled weight gain (from malabsorption of nutrients)
  • Excessive crying
  • Frequent interruption of sleep
  • Fussy, “colic-y”, and miserable little babe

*Please note: green-mucousy poops can also been seen from over-supply, from too much lactose from foremilk. The signs/symptoms listed above will be consistent, dramatic, and in combination.

3. There has never been a documented case of a baby being allergic to his own mother’s milk. What the baby is actually allergic to is a protein that passes through her milk from the food she ingests.

4. Allergies typically show up at around 6 weeks of the baby’s life

5. Magical antibodies are found in your breastmilk: Secretory IgA is produced in very large amounts in your colostrum. This antibody binds with and prevents transport of dietary allergens until the infant gut is less permeable and they start producing SigA on their own.

6. If you are concerned about a possible allergy being the culprit of your fussy kiddo, start by reaching out to your pediatrician, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and an allergist. These professionals can help guide you. You should also check in with an a nutritionist if you have to remove a major food/food group from your diet for replacement of the nutrients.

7. Top food allergens:

  • Dairy (cows milk protein)
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish and shellfish

Although these are the top foods to watch out for, with a child with food sensitivities, the list can seem like it’s endless. And I hate to say it but coffee and chocolate in large amounts can cause irritability and wakefulness in your little one. (eek!)

Processed and genetically modified foods can also cause reactions so avoiding these will make you feel better and help your little one.

Any food may cause an allergic reaction (which is why this is so tricky) but 90% of them in children are caused by the food groups listed above (minus the fish and shellfish, which is more common for adults).

8. Some infants are so vulnerable to an allergy, you may see symptoms when they just come in contact with the food, and/or immediately after you ingest the food. However, a reaction usually occurs within 4-24 hours, and the food you ingest is in your babe’s system within 4-6 hours.

9. Dairy is the most common allergen. Melinda Wenner Moyer writes that “Somewhere between 2-8% are allergic to cows’ milk, but among babies who have only ever been fed breast milk, the risk is only about 0.5%.”

Even if you are not allergic to dairy yourself, your baby may be. If you eliminate dairy from your diet, you should see improvement within days and up to 2 weeks. However, it can take up to 6 weeks for dairy to be completely out of your system. Make sure you look at all labels—watch for casein and whey.

Breastfed babies who are sensitive to dairy in your diet are reacting to the cows’ milk antibodies in the form of proteins, NOT to lactose. (So what this means is your baby is not lactose intolerant. Trying lactose-free dairy products will not help your babe.)

10. What you may think is an allergy may actually only be a reaction, intolerance, or sensitivity to a food. A true allergy will most likely hang around for life, but a reaction or sensitivity can be outgrown as the digestive system matures—typically by 3 years old.

11. Allergic disease has a strong hereditary basis. If you are in a high-risk allergic family, or have a strong family history of allergies, you may want to avoid potent allergens (like peanuts or dairy products) during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

12. Unfortunately, allergy testing in young infants is not considered reliable and can give false negative results so the best way to figure out what is causing your baby problems is through an elimination diet. If you eliminate one allergen at a time, you should wait a minimum of two weeks and up to four weeks.

Elimination diets: 3 ways to do them (with the guidance of your doctor)

  1. You can try eliminating one allergen/food group at a time
  2. Try a low allergen diet
  3. Try a total elimination diet from the beginning

When you do an elimination diet, make sure you:

  • Keep a journal of all the foods you eat and your baby’s reaction/symptoms
  • Space the re-introduction of any food out by 4-5 days

You should see improvement within 2-7 days and up to three or even four weeks as the newborn’s intestines and stomach lining become less inflamed and irritated.

Total elimination diet

  • Step 1: When you begin, you need to cut back all the way to the bare bones: fruits and veggies (and nothing too acidic, so no citrus!). You should see improvement in a few days in your babes poop: No more diarrhea? No more blood? Green poop no longer green? Eczema will take more time to clear up but does it look less inflamed?
  • Step 2: Introduce beans, one kind at a time.
  • Step 3: Introduce grain. Try rice first.
  • Step 4: Once you have eliminated all possible allergens, you can try your food challenge by introducing one of these types of foods at a time. Go slowly, wait sufficient time, and know that some babies are fine with small amounts of the allergen but will not tolerate it anymore when it reaches a certain level.

You may opt-out of doing a food challenge altogether if by eliminating possible allergens, you now have a happy and comfortable baby. The re-introduction can seem really scary and daunting. You may want to try waiting a year (when many food sensitivities are outgrown) before reintroducing the foods back in your diet.

13. Rotation diet

This will allow you to eat troublesome foods in a rotating schedule, so each food is out of your system for 5-7 days before you reintroduce it. This can prevent allergic symptoms to develop. This kind of diet can help identify the culprit without disrupting your own diet too much, although some believe the foods are not eliminated for a long enough time.

Most importantly: Please try not to blame yourself for this, mama. Talk to your doctor, IBCLC, allergist and nutritionist about what would be best for you and your babe. It is normal for our babies to cry and you may just be the ‘lucky’ one who has an intense, needy and sensitive baby who cries a lot. However, if there is a true allergy or sensitivity, you do not need to wean your baby from the breast. If you change your diet, you and your baby can continue to enjoy breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired.

Be patient, be gentle on yourself, and take it one day at a time.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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