When your baby cries, you naturally to go through a checklist in your mind: Do they have a dirty diaper? Are they tired or teething? Perhaps they're hungry? There can be so many reasons why a baby is fussy, and it can be so stressful trying to figure out what is wrong. But if you were like me, you may be surprised to learn that your baby may be fussy because of something you ate. Let’s dive into what you may not know about breast milk sensitivity, and how to help ease your little one's tummy.
If you're nursing your little one, the foods that you eat can definitely affect your child's stomach. Think about it--did you ever notice during your pregnancy that when you drank a fizzy drink or had something spicy, that your baby moved a lot more? It's because there is a link! The same goes with breast milk.
Breastfeeding (when it's an option) has many benefits for your baby. Breast milk is packed with nutrients and calories that your baby needs to grow up big and strong. But in order to make milk, you need to eat and drink plenty so your body can generate breast milk. According to drinkgt.com, "What you eat and drink during breastfeeding can affect the composition of your milk. Some babies are sensitive to a certain food, and it’s possible for your diet to cause trouble in your little one’s digestive system."
So how do we know whether what we're eating is upsetting their stomachs? Here are some things to look for:
Signs That Your Diet is Affecting Your Baby's Tummy
- Bowel Problems
- Spitting up more than usual
With my second child, I noticed she was very colicky, fussy, and did not poop frequently. Turns out it was because of the food I eating!
What specific foods can cause/increase stomach issues?
- Coffee or caffeinated drinks
- Nuts (specifically peanuts)
- Fish or seafood
- High sugar or greasy foods
As you see, there are many foods that can affect your baby's tummy. For example, dairy foods like milk, cheese, or yogurt have more protein in them, which can make it hard for your baby to digest, causing gas to build up. But don't let this list scare you into thinking you need to cut out all these yummy foods.
How to find the problem food:
- Start with making a list of what you ate. Some symptoms can show up immediately after feeding and some can take a little longer. Sometimes it's not even the item itself that your consuming but the quantity you are consuming. Do you drink several coffees a day or include a lot of junk food/sweets in your diet?
- Once you have your list, see which ones are on the sensitivity list above, and try eliminating them one by one from your diet. Try starting with dairy.
- Continue breastfeeding. After 48 hours, check if your baby’s symptoms have decreased or stopped completely.
- If the symptoms have either decreased or stopped, discontinue eating or drinking that particular food.
- If the problem persists, repeat steps 1 through 3, focusing on a different potentially problematic food.
You can read more about this process here, and even find a printable to help you track your steps.
Remember that it may take some time for symptoms to show in your baby's digestion after you've eaten. According to the Mayo Clinic," It takes about six to eight hours for food to pass through your stomach and small intestine... and 36 hours for food to move through the entire colon."
For my baby, I noticed dairy was causing these problems. After eliminating it from my diet and closely monitoring how she was doing, I was so relieved to discover that was the cause. I immediately switched to almond milk. My baby was so much happier and pooped more frequently.
Other Things to Know:
- I have found that gas drops and probiotics can also help with tummy sensitivities.
- Make your your baby gets an even amount of foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is high in sugar and can cause gassiness. If you stop feeding too early, your baby may not get enough hindmilk to offset the foremilk. Be sure to empty your breast of your milk supply during each feeding.
- Find alternatives to the food you're subtracting from your diet so you can still have the nutrients or taste satisfaction.
I hope you're feeling a little refreshed knowing breast milk sensitivity could be causing your baby's fussiness. This is all part of being a parent and figuring out your baby, and let me tell you, you're definitely not the only one! If you're feeling worried that your baby is still upset and uncomfortable and nothing that you're doing is working, consult a lactation specialist or your child's pediatrician. They can give you some pointers, ease your mind, and come up with a solution. Hopefully your baby's tummy is on its way to being happy and contented, and that mommy is able to relax!