Giving a newborn formula milk can prevent them from being readmitted to hospital for weight loss, according to Harvard Health Publishing. By 6 months of age, around 75% of babies are fed formula, either wholly or alongside breast milk. But statistics show that 7% of formula-fed babies have a cow’s milk allergy – a key ingredient in formula. So, how do you recognize a formula allergy in babies and what can you do about it?

Signs & symptoms of a formula allergy

76% of pediatricians say that parents don’t know enough about allergies in babies. This shows the importance of educating yourself, especially if you choose to give your baby formula. Signs that your baby has a formula allergy include:

  • Dehydration
  • Poor weight gain
  • Bloody stools
  • Sickness
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constant distress
  • Skin issues, such as hives or a rash

If you suspect a formula allergy, speak to your doctor or pediatrician as soon as possible. They’ll discuss your baby’s symptoms with you and will examine your tot. A stool sample may be tested and it’s possible that a skin prick test will be done.

Complications to be aware of

If your baby’s formula allergy has resulted in significant weight loss, this will need to be treated. This is known as failure to thrive. Regular weight checks are usually recommended and you may need to feed your baby high-calorie foods (if they’re of weaning age) or a special allergen-free formula with added calories in it. A baby with any type of confirmed allergy is also at greater risk of developing other allergies. These allergens may be food items, pollen, animal dander, dust, or chemicals found in cleaning products. For your baby’s safety, avoid cleaning with products that contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, ammonia, and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). Healthy ways to look after your home should be used. Natural cleaning products are best and can be made easily with ingredients such as water, lemon juice, and baking soda. 

Other feeding options

Once it’s been confirmed that your baby has an allergy to formula milk, you need to stop feeding him or her it. If you’ve been mixed feeding then it’s a good idea to solely breastfeed your tot. It’s most likely the cow’s milk in formula that your baby is allergic to, so you’ll need to avoid consuming cow’s milk too if you do decide to breastfeed. Other options include giving special formulas made from other ingredients. This may be soy or rice. You can also get hydrolyzed baby formulas. These still contain cow’s milk protein but they’ll have been broken down so small that it’s unlikely your baby will react to them.

A formula allergy is a serious problem for young babies. Thankfully, it’s not too common, but if you think your infant is allergic to formula see a medical professional straight away. They’ll help you with a diagnosis and ensure your baby thrives regardless of the allergies he or she has.