Milk Allergy In Infants

Although milk is essential for life at a young age, some infants suffer from a milk allergy, which can make it difficult for them to get the nutrients they need. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of milk allergy and know how to handle the problem properly!

Milk Allergy
When people think of the word “allergy”, they commonly think of pollen, ragweed, pet dander, sneezing and itchy eyes, but few associate lactose intolerance or an aversion to milk as an allergy. However, that is precisely what afflicts so many people who can’t handle dairy products in their diet – an allergy. For infants, whose primary source of nutrients is in the form of milk (breastfeeding or formula bottles), a milk allergy can be particularly worrisome.

First, to understand what a milk allergy is, when the body takes in the proteins of cow’s milk, the immune system recognizes it as a foreign or unrecognized protein and causes a reaction in the body, typically an upset stomach. This is the same as with other allergies, when the body doesn’t recognize a foreign substance and the immune system flies into action. The reason why some children develop a milk allergy and others don’t is unknown, although some cite normal birth vs. Caesarian section, as well as breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, as peripheral causes of allergies in infants.

That being said, it is important to understand whether your infant is suffering from a milk allergy or milk intolerance. A milk allergy may be quite mild, and is a direct response to the cow proteins in either the breast milk or the bottle milk. A milk intolerance is when the infant’s body cannot process the lactose in the breast milk itself, not necessarily the proteins from the dairy products eaten by the mother. However, lactose intolerance in an infant from birth is extremely rare.

Symptoms of Milk Allergy
When your infant child is suffering from a milk allergy, it shouldn’t be hard to spot, although given how fussy babies can be on a regular basis, identifying a particular issue can occasionally be difficult. As with any allergic reaction, the immune system of the infant will release histamines to attack the foreign protein (dairy products from cow’s milk that is passed through the breast milk). This causes an inflammatory response in the body, manifesting as vomiting, diarrhea, a skin rash, and frequent spitting up of the milk. Excessive crying, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, and overall irritation following feedings should give some indication that your infant may have a milk allergy. If difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis occurs, take your infant to the emergency room immediately.

A milk intolerance will be similar in appearance, evidenced by bloating, gas, spitting up, infant eczema, irritability, excessive crying, and a low increase in weight. A complete lactose intolerance in infants will be harder to avoid or manage, but again, this is far more rare than a simple milk allergy.

How to Handle a Milk Allergy in Infants
While it may seem like a major problem if your baby reacts negatively to drinking milk, don’t worry! There are many ways to avoid putting your child through allergic reactions each time you feed him. Let’s take a closer look at some of the options for managing a milk allergy.

Hydrolysate Formula
One of the best and quickest ways to prevent the negative reactions of a milk allergy is to switch formulas. After your doctor has confirmed (through a pinprick test or allergy panel) that your infant does have an allergy to cow’s milk proteins, a different formula can be recommended, called hydrolysate formula, in which the proteins have already been partially broken down. This means that the body is less likely to respond in an inflammatory or violent way to the foreign proteins, slowly helping your infant’s body become accustomed to these proteins. Most milk allergies disappear within the first year, as infants are exposed to more types of food.

Eliminate Dairy
For infants with a milk allergy, the dairy products consumed by the mother are what cause the allergic reactions in the baby. If you eat cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk or any other dairy product on a regular basis, than those cow milk proteins can remain in your system for up to two weeks, and may be affecting your infant’s health. Completely eliminating dairy from your diet may be an effective solution, but be sure to supplement your diet with other vegetables and food sources that contain calcium, vitamin B-12, potassium and magnesium.

Keep a Food Diary
The allergic reaction of your infant may not always be as a result of a milk allergy. Therefore, it can be valuable as a mother to keep a food diary of everything that you’ve personally eaten, and then line that up with episodes where your infant showed allergic reactions or extreme fussiness. You can track your own diet in accordance with those negative feeding experiences and help to identify other foods that may be causing the problem.

Avoid Extreme Foods
Pregnancy cravings and suggested diets during pregnancy are one thing, but once your infant is born, you can return to a more normal schedule and framework for your diet. Eating extreme or unusual foods can cause discomfort and seeming allergic reactions in your child, so sticking to a more neutral diet until you are finished breastfeeding or switch to formula feeding is a good idea. This will also help you determine whether your infant is suffering from a milk allergy or just your strange diet!

Switch to Alternatives
If your infant is allergic to cow proteins, there are alternative that don’t have the exact same protein structure, and may work better for your infant’s system. Many infants that are allergic to cow milk proteins are also reactive to sheep’s milk and goat’s milk, but soy products are often acceptable and can eliminate the allergic reactions in infants. Small lifestyle changes like this shouldn’t be a major problem, given that you have a new baby – perhaps one of the biggest lifestyle changes you’ll ever experience!

8 Powerful Home Remedies For Infant Constipation

As a parent, you’d watch for your little one’s every laugh, coo, and hiccup. But it might happen that all your baby seems to be doing is crying and that too is a sign that your little one is trying to communicate something to you. Infant constipation is one such condition that might be making your baby teary-eyed.

Infant constipation is something that you have to be observant about as babies’ stool schedules can swing on either end of the spectrum. A baby who is exclusively breastfed will almost never suffer from constipation, but formula-fed babies may experience 3-4 bowel in a day or need to move their bowels only once every few days. The rate of BM (bowel movements) even in healthy infants vary widely depending on their diet.

Infants have to work hard to have a bowel movement, so straining isn’t that worrying even if your baby cries or gets red-faced. Imagine having to have a bowel movement on your back! Understanding the possible signs as babies will often resist having a bowel movement if the stools are hard or painful, which only adds to the problem. You need to be watchful to understand what might be amiss, and then actively try to fix it.

Some traditional approaches to infant constipation are:

Delaying the introduction of solid food or formula after breastfeeding
Increasing the amount of liquid they consume
Adding fibrous foods to their diet
Calming them during stressful situations
Let us explore other useful home remedies that have worked for generations, and are often connected with nutritional or dietary issues.

Home Remedies for Infant Constipation
Here are the most popular and trusted home remedies and alternative strategies that many people find helpful:

Prune Juice
Prunes and prune juice contain high levels of fiber, which will help to bulk up stool content and promote its passage through the digestive tract. Also, they are mild sources of sorbitol, which is a colonic stimulant and will help the creation and release of bowel movements. Combine 3 parts water with 1 part prune juice in a bottle and mix thoroughly. Give your baby the bottle and wait for the prune juice to do its magic!

Warm Bath/Baking Soda
Warm water helps to relax muscles all over the body, but for babies that are constipated, it can relax the rectal muscles that have been tensed from the pain of constipation. The baking soda (approximately 2-3 teaspoons added in the bathwater) can further soothe the child into having a bowel movement.

Milk of Magnesia
As a short-term solution for constipation, milk of magnesia can be added in small amounts (1 teaspoon) to the baby’s bottle. Milk of magnesia forces the colon to slightly distend and absorb water from the body, causing the muscles to contract and release a loose stool. However, this should not be done on a regular basis, as it is dehydrating and can cause dangerous electrolyte imbalances.

Physical Activity
As with adults, movement keeps the body’s organs working, and the digestive system is no exception. Movement can often loosen hardened bowels and stimulate a bowel movement. For infants, bouncing and rocking can sometimes stimulate a bowel movement. Rubbing their stomach and giving abdominal massage can sometimes help as well, by manually stimulating peristaltic motion in the child.

Metamucil and Bran Flakes
One of the best natural solutions for constipation is the addition of psyllium husks, more commonly known as bran flakes, to the baby’s soft foods. This high-fiber stool softener should stimulate the bulking up of the bowel movements that will stimulate a bowel movement. These psyllium flakes can be commonly found in the form of Metamucil at most grocery stores.

Formula Changes
Sometimes, certain types of formula or processed foods can cause constipation in children. If you notice that a new food is causing a problem, try switching varieties to see which one is most compatible with your child’s system.

Fluid Diet
If the constipation is caused due to dehydration, a quick fix is to simply switch back to the more fluid diet, which will loosen the stool to normal levels and relieve the infant’s discomfort. Overly active children become dehydrated more quickly, so they should be given extra water or diluted juice daily to stimulate healthy bowel movements.

Fiber-rich Foods
A proper diet of fruits and fiber-rich vegetables, particularly once they have stopped breastfeeding is essential to healthy bowel movements. Adding fibrous foods to their diet can be a quick fix for this common reason for constipation in infants.