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Baby Formula and Food Allergies

Baby Formula and Food Allergies


Food allergies may not be common, but they can occur at any age of your child’s life.  Be informed and know how to recognize them in your baby.

A food allergy is when the body reacts to a certain type of food.  Today’s nutrition labels make it easy to identify which foods contain or may have been exposed to common allergens such as nuts, dairy, gluten, and more.  It can happen if your baby is breastfed, formula fed, or starting solid foods.  Your baby may not be able to tell you what is wrong with their body, but you can recognize their symptoms because as a caregiver you know your little one better than anyone else.  When you change your baby’s formula or introduce a new food, it is important that you observe your baby for any of the following symptoms.

Symptoms of Food Allergies


Your baby may have an off day, or maybe they are inconsolable.  However, if your little one is not acting like their normal self, it can be an indicator of something more.  Keep in mind that you need more symptoms to be sure it is related for a food allergy.

Stomach Upset, Constipation, or Diarrhea

Is your baby’s tummy gurgling?  Are they struggling to move their bowels or do they have regular diaper explosions?  These types of digestive issues can let you know that there is a problem with something they are eating.  If it is once in a while, it is not a major concern.  When it is consistent and affects their well-being, it is time to consult your pediatrician.

Excess Gas or Bloating

Babies need to burp because they may be taking in air while they are drinking their milk.  You can switch their bottle to one that reduces the amount of air taken in.  If that doesn’t remedy the problem, it may be something your baby is trying to digest.  Colic and its uncomfortable symptoms will occur if your baby is crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days in a week over the course of three weeks.  If it is not colic, there is a chance that it is related to a food allergy.

Spit Up or Vomit

Spit up is when your baby cannot keep their formula in their bellies.  It can happen right after feedings or even up to two to three hours after a feeding.  Spit up will occur because your baby has an immature digestive system that cannot keep food down or acid reflux. Vomiting is more forceful and can be a sign of something more urgent including a food allergy or sensitivity to an ingredient.

Mucus or Congestion

Your baby can develop cold-like symptoms.  They can have a lot of coughing or congestion, but no one else in the house gets sick like them.  A runny nose or stuffiness can be caused by environmental allergens, but they can also be caused by a food allergy such as milk.  The mucus can also be found in their diaper, especially after a bowel movement.


Food allergies can make themselves evident with a rash.  It can be on any part of the body, but a rash that is located in the diaper can be due to food.  If the rash is persistent, causes soreness on the bottom, looks like dry skin or eczema, or even results in rectal bleeding, it can be from a food that is consumed.  If your baby is on a formula diet still, it can be caused by a milk allergy.  If the rash does not clear up after a few days or after eliminating the newly introduced food, consult your pediatrician. 


Hives are different than a rash because it is a raised red spot or patch of skin.  Hives are more serious because it means that the immune system is reacting more to the histamine.  Any time you see hives on your baby’s skin, see a doctor right away.


Swelling is another serious symptom of a food allergy.  When it is related to something that your baby ate, the symptoms of swelling may occur on the face and throat.  The lips and tongue may enlarge and your baby may have trouble breathing or be in distress.   Rather than wait to visit your pediatrician, take your baby to the emergency room for treatment.

Coughing, Wheezing, or Asthma

Food allergies can lead to other respiratory distress.  If your child’s breathing has changed after introducing a certain food or they cannot stop coughing or wheezing, this can be a sign of a serious food allergy.


The worst symptom of a food allergy is anaphylaxis.  The body goes into a life-threatening state of shock because it overreacts to the allergen.  The airways tighten and the blood pressure increases.  The heart rate will become more rapid.  In some severe cases, there may be nausea, swelling, and vomiting. 

What to Do If Your Baby Has a Food Allergy

If you think your baby has a food allergy or has some of the symptoms, speak to your pediatrician so that they can run tests to confirm this.  Not all allergens are forever.  In fact, many babies that are diagnosed with a milk protein allergy grow out of it by the time they are one year old.  Even though an easily-digestible baby formula is a primary source of nutrition for the first year, there are alternatives to conventional formula that relieves allergic reactions.

Holle goat milk formula has smaller milk proteins and less casein which can alleviate some of the symptoms that come from milk sensitivity.  However, hydrolyzed proteins like Hipp Special Comfort are smaller so that they are less likely to cause a reaction.  Organic baby formulas are also good for babies with sensitivities because they are not exposed to toxins or chemicals that can aggravate allergies.

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