Food Intolerances

How To Spot Food Intolerances (or MSPI) In A Breastfeeding Baby

Wednesday October 29, 2014

When you are first time parents, it is difficult to separate first time parent anxiety from real actual problems. You might think waking up to your baby’s eye sealed shut is Clearly An Emergency Situation Of Epic Proportions, and then your sister-in-law talks you off the ledge and offers up putting a warm towel on it. And, she’s right.

But then, maybe like us, you are faced with a growing list of ailments that aren’t getting better. In fact, getting worse. And no one has answers this time.

Food intolerances are difficult to diagnose, particularly so when the only food your baby is ingesting is breast milk or formula. (I’ve only read of one study that looked into this, and half of breastfeeding mothers, who ingested peanuts for the study, passed on peanut proteins in their milk; half didn’t pass peanut proteins in their milk. It’s confusing.)

All you need to know is that it is possible for food proteins to be passed into your breast milk. And your baby, if she has an intolerance to that food, will exhibit a myriad of symptoms.

Here was our list, in chronological order:


1. Constant spit up — from birth

This was probably our first indication that something was off. I remember reading some online board about changing a baby after they spit up, and I was so confused. If I did that, Bean would have been in a new outfit every 3 or so minutes. Did people really change their babies every 3 minutes? No, no they did not. I had no idea what we were experiencing wasn’t normal.

(In books, we read that spit up was fine/normal unless baby was projectile vomiting. That was not our experience. She only started projectile vomiting once she was older.)


2. Choking while nursing/ turning blue while nursing — 1 or 2 weeks old

This was our most worrisome indication that something was wrong. The choking would happen several times a feeding. While nursing, Bean would start to choke, unable to breathe, mouth open, eyes startled. She would unlatch and eventually start gasping and coughing. Usually, the coughing would fix it. Sometimes, she’d turn white before coughing. A few times, she turned blue. This went on until she was over a year old (if I ate an offending food).

If your doctor doesn’t take this seriously, or says that it will correct itself, insist on seeing a pediatric gastroenterologist.


3. Gassy — 3 weeks old

We would spend hours dealing with a shrieking, gassy baby, every day. As in, she would rotate through scream-fart-sleep every few minutes for several hours. Again, several books said this was normal, so we thought it was normal. It is not normal.

The way to tell it is gas trouble is by lightly keeping your palm on her stomach during an episode. You will be able to feel her abdomen stiffen as she begins to get uncomfortable. Then she’ll suddenly start crying. Then the crying will stop just as suddenly, either in conjunction with passing gas or not. This will repeat in a few minutes.


4. Explosive Poop — 3 weeks old

Oh, did you think you wouldn’t read about poop on a parenting blog? Sorry, there’s just no way to get around the poop talk.

We could hear Bean poop into her diaper from across the room. We did not realize that is not normal.


5. Mucousy Poop — 1.5 months old

Whatever, we’re all staring at our baby’s diapers, let’s just fess up to it now.

Google food intolerances and you’ll get a stream of posts about mucous in the poop. I had no idea what this meant. And that’s because Bean only ever had mucousy poop from birth; I thought that’s what baby poop looked like.

If you fold a diaper in half and pull it apart, does the poop string between both halves (Ok, I know, this is gross, but yes, kind of like string cheese. I know. I’m sorry I said that, but people need to know!) Congratulations, that’s mucousy poop.


6. Never-ending diaper rash — 2 months old

A terrible diaper rash that responds to no cream. Bean’s diaper rash was red, raised patches covering almost her entire diaper area. For a month and a half, Dave and I tried every diaper cream available on the market; we even had several custom diaper rash concoctions going with fungal creams. Nothing helped.


7. Blood in poop — 3 months old

Nothing like finding blood in your baby’s diaper to confirm your suspicions that something’s wrong. Also, this helps convince doctors that there indeed is a problem. Demand they do a Fecal Occult Blood Test. If the test comes back negative, first give them the stink eye and then insist they give you a test to take home with you.

Blood is most noticeable when it’s red (coming from lower down the digestive track.) But, blood can be black too (coming from the stomach.) Black blood can look like blobs of black goo or like baby’s diaper has been sprinkled with black pepper. (We had all of the above.)


8. Eczema — 1 month old (didn’t realize it til later)

Those little bumps and dry skin, likely on the back of baby’s arms, inside elbows and knees, on thighs, backs and tummy: eczema. Bean never seemed irritated by her eczema, so I didn’t realize it was eczema for a long time.


9. Projectile vomiting — 4 months old

You’ll know it when you see it. You pick baby up and suddenly, vomit has sloshed your neck and is traveling down your sternum.


So, yes, by the time I went rogue and put myself on the elimination diet, Bean had all of these symptoms. And every doctor we spoke to told me it was all normal.

If any of these symptoms ring true to you, look into starting an elimination diet. Except for the poop, all of Bean’s symptoms cleared up in two or three days after I went on the diet. This was after battling them for months. At the time, it seemed like a miracle. The poop eventually cleared up too. (It takes a while for intestines to heal.)

Next up: how to go about starting an elimination diet


More Reading:

Surviving the MSPI Diet: A List of Comfort Foods

Our Latest Deliciously and Deceptively MSPI-Approved Comfort Foods

Tips for Traveling on the MSPI Diet

7 Responses to “How To Spot Food Intolerances (or MSPI) In A Breastfeeding Baby”

  1. Fascinating and terrifying and maddening…looking forward to the the next installment!


    10/29/2014 at 6:58 pm

  2. Thanks for reading!

    Yes, all those things! With a heap of wondering whether this is all in your head.


    10/29/2014 at 7:48 pm

  3. nice post, ecological diaper is best solution for the treatment of diaper rash


    12/26/2014 at 8:19 pm

  4. Hi! Thanks for reading. In our case, we were using ecological diapers (and also diaper free), but the diaper rash only went away after eliminating food intolerances and allergens from her diet.


    12/27/2014 at 8:17 am

  5. Great Post! I remember being so overwhelmed with scouring the internet – this simplifies it a bit.

    Thank you!


    3/24/2015 at 1:05 pm

  6. Would you mind if I shared this – and other posts? (give you credit of course)

    You write really well; and love your topics!

    Thank you,
    Anne Dimond


    3/24/2015 at 1:07 pm

  7. Hi Anne,

    It’s perfectly ok to share! The more information we can get out about MSPI the better!

    Thanks for reading the site!


    3/24/2015 at 1:23 pm