Formula allergies

Every baby is unique. Every baby’s stomach is unique, too, and some have a harder time than others when digesting certain foods, certain types of formula included. When a formula allergy occurs, parents have to address the problem to keep their baby comfortable and happy. 

In the case of an allergic reaction to the proteins in milk- or soy-based formulas, babies need to be switched to a different kind of formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two formulas as hypoallergenic. The first is extensively-hydrolyzed formula, and the second is free amino-acid formula. 

  • Extensively-hydrolyzed formula contains milk proteins that have been broken down into very small pieces. This formula is nutritious and easy for babies with a milk-protein intolerance, a sign of which is when an otherwise-healthy baby has bloody stools. 
  • Free amino-acid formula is a hypoallergenic type of formula that is made out of non-allergenic amino acids. Babies who can’t tolerate extensively-hydrolyzed formula do well with free amino-acid formula.

If a baby shows possible signs of a milk protein intolerance or allergy, like bloody stool, poor growth, or irritability during or after feeds, a formula switch is probably in order.

What you can do

There are a few things you can do to keep Baby feeling their best on a formula diet.

  • Watch for any signs of an allergic reaction: These include swelling of the lips, diarrhea, vomiting, raised and itchy skin rash, slow weight gain, or breathing problems like wheezing after eating. Less-common signs include fussiness after eating, gassiness, or excessive spit up.
  • Talk to your pediatrician before making any changes: If you notice any of the symptoms of an allergy, you should immediately seek medical attention, and contact your pediatrician and talk to them about possibly switching Baby‘s formula.
  • Consider your family history: To be on the safe side, you may want to mention any family milk allergies to your pediatrician to see if they have any recommendations. 

The majority of babies with milk allergies start showing signs of improvement as soon as they switch to a hypoallergenic formula, although it can sometimes take a week before signs of blood in stool fully disappear. Many babies also outgrow this allergy, too, and can tolerate milk products when they’re a little older, so even if babies have a milk protein allergy at this age, there’s a good chance that one day in the future, they’ll have no problem drinking or eating milk-based products.

  • “About Milk Allergy.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, 2016. Web.
  • Committee on Nutrition. “Hypoallergenic Infant Formulas.” Pediatrics. 106(2). Web. Aug 2000. 
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