If your baby is extremely fussy, or colicky, spits up often, has mucousy, smelly poop, or is otherwise acting “off,” you may be dealing with a child who has a food intolerance or food allergy. The way to find out what food is causing your baby distress is through an elimination diet. By eliminating foods from your diet, and watching your child to see if the problem gets better, you can identify what foods they are allergic or intolerant to.
While you can eliminate one food at a time, I strongly suggest cutting all the major allergens out of your diet at once.
- Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
This allows your baby to start feeling better at once, instead of continuing to feel bad while you try to find which thing is causing the issue. It also takes into account that the problem may be multiple foods causing the issues.
Keeping a log: Write it all down. Sometimes this step alone can point out patterns of when your baby is having a reaction and possible food culprits. Keep track of
- Skin rashes
- Spitting up; consistency, how forcefully, smell
- Diapers; how many wet, how many poopy, also the color and consistency of poop
- When they nurse; which side, how long
- What you eat, and drink. Get as detailed at you can with what is in each meal.
- When and how long they sleep.
After a few days of keeping track of this information you might be able to see a pattern and identify the problem food.
Learn the names: Common allergens appear on labels under a wide variety of names. Print out a list of the various forms of the food you are avoiding to carry with you and use it to check if a food is safe.
Check all labels: Don’t assume anything is safe.
Check non food labels too: Soy, nut oils, wheat protein, are all common additives in diaper creams, lotions, soaps. Your child may continue to react to the allergen (rash, eczema, fussy) if they are getting exposed to it from their body products.
Give it time: It can take two to four weeks for the allergen to leave a baby’s system, and all symptoms to disappear. If you accidentally eat something you are avoiding, you need to restart this count. It is a slow process, but worth it to have a happy, healthy baby.
Add foods back in: Add them one at a time over the course of a few weeks. Add a little of one food to a meal, and watch your baby closely for a reaction. If, after 3 days of eating the food, your child is not reacting, that food is probably not the culprit. Pick a new restricted food, and add it back to your diet see if they react. If your child does react to a food, remove it from your diet. Wait until the reaction has completely disappeared to add back another new food. Remember, it may take one to two weeks for the reaction to subside.