The Parents Network >
Advice about Breastfeeding >
My baby has had bad reflux from 3 weeks old (he is now 3.5
months old) and I traced the problem down to the food I was
eating when breast feeding. His symptoms are vomiting, acid
smelling milk when it comes up, crying, red-faced and his body
arching in a bit of pain, gas and bad hiccoughs. I eliminated
wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts and shellfish and it works well.
My issue is that this is a restrictive diet and now that I'm
working finding the time to pump is extremely difficult and I
don't think I can keep it up during the day for much longer. My
nanny has tried formula a couple of times today and he actually
seems ok with it so far (although he was a little weird tonight
so it might be a problem) even though it contains soy and dairy
so I'm a bit confused as to why it doesn't affect him as much as
my milk when the same ingredients are in it unless there is a
Has anyone had similar experiences? My baby also has dry skin
on his leg which seems to be spreading and I'm concerned that
it's related as it might be an eczema. I'm considering using
goats milk formula but am not sure where to get it or any risks
attached. Anyone with similar experiences who could point me in
the right direction would be very much appreciated at this point
as I'm pretty confused. Thanks in advance.
First, are you sure you must continue to eliminate *all* of
those things from your diet? If you have not tried re-
introducing the suspect foods, one at a time, to see if the baby
has a reaction, you should. It may be, for example, that you
must strictly eliminate dairy but could eat wheat -- which would
make the restricted diet much easier for you. My apologies if
you know this already and were merely describing the problem in
Second, as to introducing formula, a few things are possibly
going on. One is simply that your baby is a little older and
his digestive system a little better developed than it was when
you first began the elimination diet. Two, your breastmilk has
a protective effect on the digestive system of your baby.
Combifed babies tend to have fewer formula-tolerance issues than
do formula fed babies for this reason. It's possible that as
long as most of his diet is breastmilk, your baby will do fine
with some formula, but he will struggle more if and as the
amount of breastmilk he gets decreases and the amount of formula
increases. (The same thing, by the way, is true when you
introduce solid foods. Some recent research has shown that
gluten intolerance occurs much more often when wheat is
introduced into a baby's diet after the baby is no longer
breastfeeding than when the baby gets whea! t and breastmilk
during the same period of time!) Three, it may just be that, in
the limited quantities he's had, the chemical alterations that
the proteins in regular formula undergo make them more
digestible/tolerable for your baby.
So, you should continue to breastfeed as long as you possibly
can, as much as you possibly can. If you must stop pumping (and
I sympathize -- although I did manage to keep with it, I hated
it), start with any plain-old-formula and see how your baby does
on it before you experiment with more expensive hypoallergenic
types. I would also suggest talking to your baby's doctor about
formulas -- he or she may only know what the formula companies
advertise, but undoubtedly has more knowledge and experience
than you do!
If this is your first baby, I just wanted to point out that
the ''symptoms'' that you are describing ''vomiting, acid
smelling milk when it comes up, crying, red-faced and his body
arching in a bit of pain, gas and bad hiccoughs'' are all just
very normal baby behavior. Maybe there is no problem with
allergies or breast milk and you baby is just behaving quite
normally! Everybody seems to want to blame allergies for
everything these days, even normal behavior! Have you talked to
your pediatrician and to a few other moms who have kids your age?
Symptoms such as lots of vomiting, acid-smelling milk, arching
and pain, crying, gas & hiccups could also be acid reflux. My
baby arched almost constantly when she was little, and always
turned to one side, and after seeing a gastroenterologist, she
and the second pediatrician who looked at her suggested this,
and prescribed liquid Zantac, which is an antacid. The only way
they can know for sure is to do many invasive tests, and the
Zantac is harmless. Within a week, her symptoms disappeared
completely. What they told me is that it's best to treat this,
because acid reflux can damage the esophagus, and from what I've
heard from other parents, I'm guessing this is a condition
that's often undiagnosed because everybody's used to babies
fussing and vomiting. For what it's ! worth, the doctors initially
had trouble believing that our baby had the problem because she
did not vomit, hardly ever. Frequent vomiting is one of the
first symptoms they look for.
Don't recall the original post, but did want to comment on
acid breath, gas, pain, etc. being normal. While my infant
son (now in college) was being exclusively breastfed I vividly
recall his breath being incredibly sweet and delightful
smelling. It was only when we graduated to other foods
that his breath started to smell badly. He never experienced
gas, pain, etc. while being exclusively breast fed. This
definitely does not sound normal to me. Perhaps he's
reacting to something you eat.
Follow up from the original poster:
Thanks for all of the advice and to add some details...
- Aidan does have acid reflux (diagnosed by two doctors earlier
and started around 3 weeks old) and I was against putting him
onto zantac as he seemed so little for this.
- The milk based formula did cause issues as he got so congested
he couldn't feed properly after only a few bottles. Soy formula
seems to be fine and I read a study that checked long term
re-productive affects of infants solely fed milk based v.
soy-based formula (over 35 years) and there were no differences
as I had concerns about the estrogens. I'm only using it to
supplement if I don't have quite enough breast milk.
- Cutting wheat, dairy, soy and eggs out of my diet works
incredibly well. It is so noticeable within hours if I break the
diet (he is absolutely fine otherwise) so even though it's hard
I'm going to stick to it as I've also heard that some of the
drugs such as zantac do! n't always work esp. where a food allergy
is suspected (I think it's actually an intolerance but they call
it an allergy for convenience:)
So, I think if you have this issue try eliminating foods and if
this doesn't work ask about zantac or a similar drug. I haven't
heard of any long term issues with zantac it's true and it might
work well for others.
Thank you for all the advice, sometimes it's just nice to hear of
others with the same issues even if you cannot change much.
My husband has severe food allergies and eczema. I was told
breastfeeding as long as possible would lower the risk of my
baby developing allergies, and have exclusively breastfed my
son since he was born 5 months ago. I have also been pumping
vigorously and have stockpiled a huge supply of frozen
breastmilk -- there is no room in our freezer for anything
else. Unfortunately, our son has developed severe eczema over
the last two months, and the pediatric allergist told us the
baby may be allergic to protein elements in my diet (she said
it may be dairy, egg, or wheat that is passing through my milk)
and we should wean quickly and switch to Alimentum
hypoallergenic (hydrolyzed protein) formula. The stuff tastes
and smells awful... even mixing a tiny bit of Alimentum into my
breastmilk makes it taste foul and our baby has refused it so
far. So my question is three-fold: 1)is it possible to donate
frozen breastmilk? and 2) does anyone have suggestions on how
to get our baby to take Alimentum/gross-tasting formula--
should we go cold turkey or just gradually increase tiny
amounts into breastmilk? and finally 3) has anyone had success
in improving eczema by using Alimentum instead of breastmilk?
We are also now using elidel, aquaphor, eucerin, etc.
Mom with milk
I urge you to seek a second opinion.
Mysteriously, pediatricians are not particularly breastfeeding
friendly. Please speak with a lactation consultant before
weaning your son.
For example, you could eliminate the possible allergens from
your diet... giving your son an allergen free supply of
breastmilk. (Although, I will admit that this can be extremely
difficult and limiting.)
I wish you the best of luck!
Both my children had allergies to proteins passing into my
breast milk, resulting in eczema. But I continued to breast
feed both past their first birthdays. What I did do was
eliminate what seemed to be the most troubling elements from MY
diet. You might want to consider trying that before you switch
to formula. (I wanted to keep breast feeding in spite of the
allergies because I have heard that breast feeding is strongly
protective from the development of allergies later in life.) In
my case, I eliminated milk products and eggs (but I did not
exhaustively eliminate every product with a trace of milk or
eggs! ). I also tested (eliminated then added back) wheat and
peanut butter. If you try this approach, go slowly, because the
eczema can take a long time to clear up after the allergic
reaction is gone. You can also ask your doctor if you can give
your baby Benadryl because that can help break the cycle. We
started introducing formula while I was still nursing after I
returned to work (because it was too hard to pump enough). We
used Nutramigen, which I thought tasted horrible, but both my
children accepted it without a problem. I did not mix it with
breast milk, but gave them separate bottles of formula. With my
son, we used formula until he was almost two, because I was
afraid he was allergic to soy (something like 2/3 of babies
allergic to milk are allergic to soy) and rice milk did not seem
to provide enough nutrition. At 2, I had him tested for
allergies and he turned out to be all! ergic to milk and eggs, as
I suspected, and also allergic to nuts (but not peanuts). The
allergist said most children grow out of these early allergies
by the time they are 4 or 5. Good luck!
I feel for you! One of my closest friends went through this
with her child. You do not have to stop breastfeeding if you
are willing to eliminate certain foods from your diet. Ask
your pediatrician or allergist about doing RAST blood tests.
They aren't highly accurate at this age but they can be helpful
in pointing you in which direction to experiment in eliminating
things from your diet. Sometimes babies with really bad ezcema
can have dramatic positive test results. The most common
allergies are milk protein, wheat, egg, and soy (I think in
that order). So you can either cut them all out at once and
then gradually add them back in or cut them out one! by one. But
there are also other possibilities (fish, citrus, nuts, etc.)
When you do an elimination trial you must be very thorough
though (ie no milk means no butter, no ice cream, no whey, no
casein, etc.) and it takes about 10 days. My friend's son had
multiple (about 10) different allergies and his ezcema
dramatically improved after she eliminated those foods from her
diet. She breastfed him for about 11 months and decided to
switch to Alimentum or Neocate (can't remember, one of those
type) because she wanted more freedom of diet. But only switch
if YOU want to, not because the allergist says to. It's not
necessary. Breastfeeding has many advantages, both related to
and not related to allergies. Alimentum (and all those types
of formulas) do taste disgusting; I'm afraid I don't have any
tricks for getting your kid to take it. Good luck!
Get a second opinion about weaning, call a La Leche League
leader about the diet thing. See
http://www.lllusa.org/web/OaklandCA.html for numbers You can try
eliminating allergens from your diet now -- might be easier than
weaning. Start with dairy, then soy, wheat, and go then nuts.
There is a Mother's Milk bank in San Jose. Not sure how it works
Ack! Don't stop breastfeeding! The first advice you got was
much more accurate than the more recent.
IF your baby's eczema is caused by something you are eating, the
best thing to do is stop eating that. (Dairy is the most likely
culprit.) Go on a strict elimination diet yourself for a few
weeks and see if baby improves. If not, you'll have to figure
out a different solution. If so, you can make your own decision
about the cost/benefit ratio of feeding your baby formula (and a
very specialized formula at that) vs. having to eat a restricted
diet yourself, though of course it's much healthier for both the
baby and you (not to mention a heck of a lot cheaper) to
continue breastfeeding and avoid dairy or whatever you determine
the problem is.
As for donating your current stash of breastmilk, if you
determine that you can't feed it to your own baby, yes, it may
be possible to donate it. Different milk banks have different
policies, though in general you must donate a minimum of 100
ounces and they may or may not be willing to take milk that was
pumped before you signed up, passed their medical tests, and
received their storage bags. There is a milk bank in San Jose;
contact them and ask. Alternatively, you may be able to give it
to a friend who's having trouble pumping enough milk for her own
baby (I know several women who've been involved in such
arrangements, either as donor or recipient).
I don't know if I have any specific answers to your questions,
but I wanted to relate to you our recent exerience with the same
problem. We just went through 4 months of craziness and fear
over ! food allergies and breastfeeding. My husband has allergies
and asthma. When our 3 month old developed rashes and hives, we
were told by the pediatrician that it was food allergies. I
threw out bags and bags of milk, fearing that something I ate
could be hurting her. Over the next three months the reactions
progressed to eczema and eyelid pinkness/swelling. They were
always within minutes after she nursed. Fortunately, Benedryl
worked immediately for her reactions. I agonized over whether
she should have formula, and if so, which one because she seemed
to react to both dairy and soy. But I continued to breastfeed.
Instead I eliminated every possible food allergen from my diet
(wheat, dairy, eggs, seafood, nuts, citrus, soy). However, we
were prescribed an Epipen, just in case. It took 3-4 months of
note-taking, observing and brainstorming to come up with a list
of what we thought triggered her ''attacks''. When s! he was 7
months old she finally got a skin-test. To our surprise, NONE of
the foods (she was tested for 9 single and combination
allergens) caused a reaction. I have since added all those foods
back to my diet (the allergist said if I could wait on shellfish
and peanuts it would be an added security) and she is just fine.
We learned through this experience that our baby's immune system
just needed time to mature. She is 8 months old now, eating many
different cereals,vegetables and fruits and still breastfeeding.
Even though I was worried about the decision to not use formula,
I am so glad I didn't. Removing all those ingredients from my
diet was challenging, but certainly not impossible. Did your
allergist give you any other choice but to wean? Is it possible
that you could begin an elimination diet and still breastfeed
part-time to see if your son's condition improves? When our
daughter had her ezcema, we used a combinati! on of Aveeno
colloidal bath packets and Aveeno cream. I wish you all the best
in making a decision.
I really feel for you... You might want to try to find a
different pediatric allergist who is supportive about
breastfeeding and knows something about lactation. If you are
having a successful breastfeeding experience, I'd really try to
hold onto it.
My son has eczema, though it didn't start as early as your
son's. What has helped us the most was to see a pediatric
dermatologist. (I would refer you to our dr., but we live out
of state now.) Boy, they know eczema inside and out--yes, much
better than the pediatric allergists. You may have to go to
UCSF to see one (not sure if Oakland Children's has any).
When my son was around 1 or 2 months old, he *did* have an
allergy problem with something in my milk, though, with
gastrointestinal symptoms. Believe it or not, a lactation
consultant (Janaki Costello, she's wonderful, she's in the
phonebook) helped us nail down the problem (after our
pediatrician dropped the ball). I'm so *glad* we called her,
because she helped us figure out what to eliminate (just dairy
products) and gave us very clear info, and the problem cleared
up *immediately* and my son's weight gain jumped.
Last, some eczema advice (take it with a grain of salt, because
all eczema cases are different). Elidel actually irriated my
son's eczema--they don't tell you it's a rare side effect, but
be on the lookout. Also, Aquafor and Eucerin did, too. The
best thing for *him* is plain old vaseline smeared on after a
tepid bath (this also happens to be the cheapest).
My son was exclusively breastfed until 7 months and had eczema.
It wasn't until I fed him yogurt that he had a severe skin
reaction and the pediatrician determined he had food allergies.
Since then we have discovered that he is allergic to dairy,
eggs, wheat and soy. Wanting to keep him on breastmilk, I
eliminated these foods from my diet and his skin improved a
great deal. You may want to try eliminating common allergy-
causing foods from your diet one at a time and see if this
helps. I'm sure you know from your husband's allergies how hard
it is to be on such a strict diet, but I felt it was worth it.
We also did the whole Aquaphor, Eucerin, cortizone (our doc
didn't recommend Elidel for infants) regimen, but it was so good
to get at the cause, not just treat the symptoms, while at the
same time keeping him on breastmilk. Also, there was a posting a
while back recomme! nding flax seed oil (mixed with applesause or
cereal, when your baby can eat solids). It really helped this
mom's child's food-allergy eczema. Hope this helps.
Here's our experience: at about 6 months our son (now 4) had
full-body eczema as well as failture to thrive and his GI doctor
had hinted at weaning to Nutramigen (same as Alimentum). He also
said as our son's GI tract matured, the eczema and malabsorption
of nutrients would subside (it did!). Personally, I did not see
a huge change from cutting out dairy and wheat from my diet, but
did manage to break the eczema cycle with a prescription
cortisone (forget which one) which we only used for about a
week, coloidal oatmeal baths, Aquaphor rubs, and eliminating ALL
fabric softeners. And Trader Joe's laundry detergent has worked
best for us. At one year we started on Nutramigen with no
problem despite it's foul taste and smell, and I continued
nursing as well, until he was 19 months (as self-! weaner, but
that's another story). He's still skinny but getting pretty tall
and has been eczema-free for about 3 years. Good luck!
this page was last updated: Jan 4, 2005
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network