Is your breast milk making your baby gassy? Or worse, is it the cause of her colic?
While it isn’t possible for your baby to be allergic to your breastmilk, she can suffer from allergies or intolerances to certain foods in your diet that pass into your milk.
Why an Elimination Diet?
Babies with food allergies and intolerances often display signs of gas and colic such as
- Crying 3 or more hours per day, 3 days per week for 3 weeks
- Arching back
- Clenching fists
- Pulling legs to chest, as if trying to pass gas
Doing an elimination diet is the only way to pinpoint which foods your baby is having an adverse reaction to.
If you choose to do an elimination diet, use a notebook to track your food intake, and your baby’s behavior.
Different Types of Elimination Diets
There are two approaches to the elimination diet; the gradual elimination diet, and the total elimination diet.
We recommend beginning with the gradual elimination diet.
It is much easier, and you will target the most common food allergens first.
With this approach, you eliminate one food allergen for two weeks at a time.
The more intensive approach is the total elimination diet.
This diet consists of eliminating all allergens from your diet, and then slowly reintroducing them, one every four days.
How to do a Gradual Elimination Diet
To do the gradual elimination diet, you will go down a list of the most common food allergens, eliminating them for two weeks at a time.
The first food to eliminate is dairy.
Dairy is the most common food allergy among babies.
It is also a difficult allergen to eliminate because it is hidden in many of our foods.
Of course it’s in cheese, yogurt, butter, chocolate, and cream.
But it also comes disguised as:
- Artificial butter flavor
Read labels carefully during this phase of your diet.
If the cows milk protein gets into your breast milk, your elimination diet may be compromised.
After you have eliminated dairy for two weeks, observe your baby’s behavior.
Has it changed? If it has, it is safe to assume that your baby is sensitive to dairy.
If that is the case, wait until your baby is at least 6 months old before attempting to reintroduce dairy to your diet.
But if your baby is still having uncontrollable crying spells, you can add dairy back into your diet and move onto the next phase.
If dairy is not the source of your baby’s irritability, move through the next food groups in this order:
By the end of this, if not sooner, you will have likely found the source of your baby’s pain.
If you suspect that your baby’s colic might be stemming from something else, check out this article about how to soothe a colic baby.
It includes multiple other ways of dealing with colic such as craniosacral therapy.
If you still suspect that it is related to your diet, you can move on to the total elimination diet.
How to do a Total Elimination Diet
If your baby has very severe symptoms of colic, and you have already eliminated the most common food allergens using the gradual elimination diet, you may want to consider the total elimination diet.
During a total elimination diet, you remove all food allergens from your diet, and then slowly reintroduce them one at a time, in order to pinpoint which foods are making your baby upset.
In his book, Detecting Your Hidden Allergies, Dr. William Crook suggests the following diet for two weeks:
- Free range turkey and lamb
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes (baked or boiled, and seasoned only with salt and pepper)
- Green and yellow squash, cooked
- Pear juice, diluted
- Rice milk
- Calcium supplement
- Any other rice-based products such as rice flour and rice pasta that do not contain other allergens.
At the end of two weeks, or sooner if your baby’s colic subsides, you may begin to introduce new foods to your diet.
You should add one new food every four days, beginning with the least commonly allergenic foods.
During this phase, you begin to reintroduce new foods back into your diet, beginning with the least allergenic.
Remember, add one new food every four days.
You can add the foods listed below in any order that you would like.
During this phase of the elimination diet, you are beginning to add mildly allergenic foods back into your repertoire.
Again, these foods can be introduced one at a time, every four days, and in any order that you would like.
The fourth and final phase of the total elimination diet is the introduction of the most allergenic foods.
Just like in phases 2 and 3, you can add one of these foods every four days, and in whatever order you would like.
- Beans and legumes
- Caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc)
- Acidic fruits and vegetables such as oranges, grapefruit, and tomatoes
- Gas producing vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, onions, and green peppers
Don’t Be Discouraged
If breastfeeding is important to you, don’t let colic stop you.
Again, most of the time a baby is experiencing a food allergy, it is to the milk proteins in dairy.
If you use the gradual elimination method, you will most likely find out the problem in a few weeks.
But if it takes longer than that to find the problem, it’s worth it if breastfeeding gives you a high level of satisfaction.
In the meantime, head over to How to Soothe a Colic Baby to get some survival tips, and other approaches to dealing with your baby’s colic.
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