We all know that parenthood can be unbelievably challenging. Becoming a parent means new responsibilities and new worries about your child’s health and wellbeing. A very common issue that many babies have to deal with are allergies. It can be very exhausting for both the infant and the parent. On the one hand, the infant suffers a lot from something it can not understand, explain or describe to its parents. On the other hand, the mother and father hurt as well by watching their little angel be in constant pain and discomfort. The parents’ position is even harder since they are unable to offer their baby the peace it desperately needs. They don’t understand what is it that bothers their kid, which most of the times is a food allergy. Could your baby be allergic to formula?
Are baby formula allergies really what troubles your infant?
So let’s clear out that baby formula allergies could indeed cause this discomfort to your baby. However, you might want to keep in mind that there are a million different things that could “annoy” an infant. It could be something really serious that needs medical attention, or it could be something totally silly. If you suspect that your baby is suffering from baby formula allergies, but you aren’t quite sure, this is the article for you!
Baby Formula Allergies VS Lactose Intolerance: Two completely different things
So, first things first! One very important thing you need to realize is the difference between milk allergies and lactose intolerance. Many people confuse those two but in fact, lactose intolerance is very rare, and the chances are that this is not what troubles your infant. This is a very common mistake lots of parents make. They instantly assume that their child is lactose intolerant when in reality the baby is allergic to milk, meaning that its body receives milk as an invader, and so it tries to destroy it. On the contrary, lactose intolerance means that the baby’s system is unable to absorb the proteins, and that’s why it rejects them. So, how can you figure out which of the two is responsible for your infant’s reaction in milk? It’s quite simple really.
Here are some symptoms that could mean your baby is lactose intolerant:
- Spitting UP
- Bloated stomach
- Infant eczema
- Irritability, crying, or other colic symptoms
- Failure to thrive and gain weight
Not sure yet? The symptoms of food allergies may vary, but some popular are reflux, spitting up or even colic. More specifically, here are the symptoms of baby formula allergies:
- If your baby’s skin is dry or itchy behind the knees or the elbows (possible eczema)
- If your baby develops red spots, also known as hives
- If you notice swollen lips or mouth or difficulty in breathing (ask for immediate medical help considering the latter).
- If a red mark around your baby anus’ is formed
- If your child is having difficulties to pass the gas
The above symptoms can be easily treated by switching to another more sensitive formula. Do not pick another formula yourself. Ask your doctor for advice and general information on what kind of formula does your baby need.
Severely allergic to formula:
- Unstoppable crying that lasts for hours, uncontrollable behavior of your baby
- Diarrhea (be in touch with your doctor to avoid dehydration which can be extremely dangerous)
- Stools being too hard or too loose, even a little bloody
- Not being able to put on weight, your infant should double its weight within the first six months. If not, you should ask an expert to help you, since gaining weight is very important in the first stages of your baby’s life.
- If your child continually keeps spitting up or has trouble swallowing
- If it’s wheezing
If your baby develops any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor and change the formula. You should go for a hypoallergic one; your doctor will properly guide you through it. Don’t try anything on your own, though. It is of utmost importance that you always ask your doctor for any advice considering your baby’s nutrition. Stick strictly to whatever your doctor suggests.
Also, if you do not feel confident enough to distinguish the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergies, don’t jump to any conclusions yourself. Always, and when I way always I mean ALWAYS, ask the opinion of an expert.
Why do food allergies occur in the first place?
A food allergy happens simply because your infant’s immune system receives a certain food as a harmful invader and so it reacts to it. That is an allergic reaction. The foods that cause such reactions are called allergens. The most common baby sensitivity is to cows’ milk. Babies that are allergic to formula with cow’s milk may also be allergic to soy-based formulas. Allergic reactions can cause a series of problems considering your junior’s health and behavior. If your kid is acting funny in any way, this could be a symptom of an allergic reaction. You should be very careful with your toddler’s reactions because there could be dangerous side effects with nasty results for your baby’s health.
Always prefer breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is surely the preferred way to feed your infant at the beginning of its journey in life. It can affect its health hugely. Breastfeeding can reduce drastically the appearance of allergies or in some cases avoid them completely. However, breastfed babies can also develop allergies due to their mothers’ diet. More specifically, the proteins pass from the mother to the child through the milk in breastfeeding, leading up to children with allergies.
On the other hand, babies that haven’t been breastfed can also show the above symptoms because of proteins in their formula; they cannot tolerate. Although there are possible negative reactions from breastfeeding, at the end of the day it can be very beneficial for any baby. For the allergies to be avoided the mother should pay attention to the proteins she consumes. The doctor can create a slightly restricted diet, the well-known “elimination diet” so that the kid’s system won’t have any tolerance difficulties.
In case breastfeeding is not possible.
So, maybe you don’t have enough time to breastfeed. Maybe you are a very busy woman. The life of a woman in today’s world can be complicated when it comes to being a mother, a wife and having a career at the same time. With the speed everything is moving around you, the tasks you need to complete every day it is normal and expected not to be able to make it on time. In case, you can relate to any of these and for some reason you just can’t breastfeed, do not worry.
There are some alternatives for you. All you need to do is find the perfect formula for your child to tame its allergies and minimize its suffering. Here are some options for you:
- Formulas based on milk.
These formulas give full nutrition to the child, but it’s pretty common for babies to show an allergy or intolerance to milk (especially the cow’s one). An example of such a formula is Similac Advance or Enfamil Lipil.
- Another option for you is the soy formula. However, this one can cause sensitivity to your child just like cow’s milk. In fact, half of the kids that are intolerant in cow’s milk are also intolerant to soy. Some of them can also develop enterocolitis (which is inflammation of the GI tract) or proctocolitis (inflammation of the rectum). Soy formulas are not recommended for infants that are allergic to cow’s milk. An example of such a formula is Isomil, Prosobee or Nestlé Good Start Soy.
- A formula that is partially hydrolyzed.
This formula again is not recommended for babies that are allergic to formula with cow’s milk. An example of such a formula is Carnation Good Start.
- A formula that is extensively hydrolyzed.
This formula is hypoallergenic and is perfect for infants that are intolerant to cow’s milk. This offers full nutrition to the baby. It can be used in some cases of in some cases of malabsorption too. An example of such a formula is Alimentum or Nutramigen.
- Lastly, there are the Amino Acid-Based Formulas.
They offer complete nutrition to kids, and they are great for those who can not digest extensively hydrolyzed formulas. They are also known as “elemental” formulas.An example of such a formula is Neocate or EleCare.
Keep in mind that these allergies usually go away on their own by the time your toddler is three to five years old. This all allergy matter needs careful handling because an allergic reaction could end up with a serious episode. For example, an allergic reaction to milk can cause anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening condition.
To deal with all sorts of allergic reactions you should always consult your doctor. You should never make decisions or take actions, even a simple one like switching a formula, without your doctor’s approval. Your child’s health is at stake here so; you should take no risks! Another thing you should have in mind is that your baby may be suffering partially from allergies and partially by something else. Therefore, you can never play doctor and try to read your infant’s signs on your own. This could be something a lot more serious than you may think.
Last but not least, before you start searching for new hypoallergic formulas, you’d better check your own family’s history in allergies. If you or your partner had developed such allergies, then you should contact your folks and find out how you were treated. Oh, and remember! The best and most natural way to help your baby and avoid, or at least reduce your baby’s allergies is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is vitally important for your baby’s diet and health, and you should choose to breastfeed for at least the first six months.