The prevailing message is that breast is best, but what if you can't breastfeed for one reason or another? Thankfully, parents can turn to formula because fed is actually best. Neither methods of feeding a baby are cut and dry though. Just as a baby can be allergic to something in their mother's breast milk, a baby can also be allergic to an ingredient in formula. It may be distressing to learn your baby has an allergy, but in most cases it can be treated. So what are the signs your baby is allergic to formula? There are several, but most of them are pretty obvious and easily detectable.
Given how many kids suffer from allergies these days, it's no wonder there are several different formulas on the market. All formulas are made with different ingredients; some are dairy based, some are soy based, and others can be rice based. Regardless of what formula is used, your baby can develop an allergy to one or more of the ingredients, and it can quickly wreck havoc on your baby's body.
The official condition that results from an allergy to formula (or breast milk) is called allergic proctocolitis. "This condition inflames the lower part of the intestine," Samantha Kamen, with Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America tells Romper. "It affects infants in their first year of life and usually ends by age one year." She says there are multiple signs and symptoms to look for, both subtle ones and overt. As frustrating as it may be for parents to figure out what their baby is allergic to, it's important to remember that the problem can be solved fairly quickly with proper medical diligence. "The good news about allergic proctocolitis is that when properly diagnosed, symptoms resolve once the offending food(s) are removed from the diet," Kamen says.
Here are five red flags to look for that may indicate your baby is suffering from a formula allergy.
1. Your Baby Is Fussy
When your baby us fussy, you think of a million reasons why they might be upset. But the fussiness could be an indication that things aren't feeling too good in their belly.
"Fussiness is a warning sign, as your baby is experiencing discomfort when processing formula," Kamen says. The Baby Center backed this up and explained that a baby with a formula allergy may even act colicky.
2. Your Baby Is Passing Blood Streaked, Watery, And Mucous Filled Stools
If your baby has blood-streaked, watery, or mucous filled stools, it may be a sign that they're allergic to their formula. "If you don’t see blood, but there is mucus visible, your doctor can doctor can test a stool sample," Kamen says. According to the Baby Center, mucous in a baby's poop is generally a telltale sign that something is either wrong with digestion, or illness is present. Either way, confirmation at the pediatrician is advised.
3. Your Baby Has Green Stools
"Stools are often green when a baby has allergic proctocolitis," Kamen says. They may also, again be, pretty watery. This sign is harder to notice if your baby is eating solids that happen to be green. Those foods can just as easily cause the poop to be green. The key is to see if there are other signs in addition to the green poop to help determine if an allergy is present or not.
4. Your Baby Has Diarrhea Or Is Vomiting
According to Parents, loose poops and diarrhea can be a sign that your baby isn't digesting the formula all that well and an allergy might be present. If it smells particularly foul, that could be an indication too. Babies suffering from allergic proctocolitis might vomit as well, which is one of the more obvious signs that something is wrong.
5. You Notice Hives Or Eczema On Your Baby's Skin
If your baby develops a rash, hives, or eczema, particularly around the forehead, Baby Center noted that this might be a red flag that an allergy is present.
No matter what your baby is allergic to in the formula, it can be dealt with by trial and error. You may have to try a few different brands of formula before you find one that your baby can digest, but ultimately it can be treated.