Common Foods That Could Make Your Breastfed Baby Upset

breastfeeding fussy baby (1)

Breastfeeding by and large is promoted as the best way to supercharge your baby in terms of their immune system and development. Breastmilk has all the essential nutrients the baby needs. Breastmilk benefits can be a wild ride to research as they claim so many things in life get affected so much in early life development.

Yet there was another side to breastfeeding I found out and I did discover some problems. We all know better than to consume obvious things that might make the resulting milk harmful to a little one. When in doubt, we ask a doctor.

Turns out that even normal foods that shouldn’t cause issues can sometimes affect the baby’s digestive tract and upset things. The baby will get fussy, or gassy, or otherwise feel disturbed.

Some common foods that cause problems have been identified so we can cover them in a list.

Common Foods that Give Breastfeeding Babies Stomach Upset

The big enemy to peace for many parents has to do with their baby and if their baby has gas. Gas is totally normal so there is no real worry there in terms of health most of the time unless excessive. Though it isn’t usually the gas itself that is alarming in those cases just the further problems it could be linked to, like if you get diagnosed with Eosinophilic esophagitis somewhere down the road. Part of the autoimmune symptom set might be burping and passing gas about once a minute on top of heartburn. By itself it isn’t too alarming, but when the full symptom load is present having this condition can be very stressful.

I’m only mentioning it here because in general, a wide range of unknown autoimmune problems have been cropping up over the years for either adults or in children. Given the increase in problems with youth, the general consensus is the changes are linked to something in the environment as scientists conclude we haven’t changed that quickly genetically. In some cases, it is linked to food consumption though parents might not always put 2 and 2 together right away until they’ve had time to test it out. Allergies and reactions are a pain like that.

The thing is when an adult gets gas they have many over-the-counter medication options to help remove the gas discomfort. Babies can’t tell you what is going on yet so all they can do is cry and act varying levels of upset. You might be going about your mom activities and notice that after feeding the baby isn’t contented and is instead acting very disturbed and upset.

This might be a good indication that their stomach is getting upset due to something being passed along in the milk.


Dairy is often the first place to start looking. There is a wide difference between cow’s milk and human milk as cow milk is harder to digest and often causes gas in babies.

The issue is when you drink your normal glass of milk or have your bowl of cereal the milk caseins in the cow milk will end up passing along into your breast milk. Baby bodies are not so good with dealing with dairy proteins and won’t digest them easily or well. The end result is a baby being bothered by gas pressure.

Goat milk is a different matter as it is believed to have less of the factors that cause problems. Generally, the conclusion is there is less issue when a mom consumes goat milk and breastfeeds as the milk is more tolerable.

There are even formulas based on goat milk that are rated safe to use, though they warn not to use fresh goat milk of course as sourced directly from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They caution to avoid giving the baby all “pure milk” that is not breastmilk direct from mom or approved infant formula.

A good place to start is to remove all processed dairy from your normal eating and see how the baby responds.


Soy is actually something that comes up a lot in a lot of different circles even to do with adults. Soy allergy is a very common allergen or both adults and babies. The issue is if you go to any food market and look on the back in the label it looks like a LOT of the offerings are loaded up with soy. It is such a notorious problem it has entered what is called The Big-8. You will notice the milk as mentioned previously on the list as well.

Many women these days are also trying out vegan lifestyles or are trying out dairy-free and soy alternatives which is essentially trading one allergen risk for another.

Wheat and Corn

Also on the allergen list, you will find wheat. These days there is a lesser-known common allergic response to corn as well. If a sensitivity for wheat or corn is present and it is found to be the cause of baby’s fussing and gas, it can be a very hard thing to eliminate from a normal diet.

Again, when you compare most store products it is hard to avoid wheat, corn, and/or soy in the various foods. I’ve heard of people removing all processed foods from their diet or otherwise drastically changing their diets. To do this effectively may require a doctor’s input.


The caffeine issue is a common topic among mothers with many a doctor and mother claiming it isn’t anything to worry about. A lot of opinions circle this topic though it a common enough problem in mom forums. The general consensus is many babies appear to be sensitive to caffeine and may end up fussy and sleepless.

Their tiny body is also not well equipped yet to deal with the small amounts they get through breastfeeding. Some mothers do not think changing their habits did much though consumption might play a role. If you drink 2 pots of coffee a day and have soda for every meal, you have a different situation than someone who just drinks one morning cup of coffee.

If you are noticing fussiness, this is just one area to test.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods are also a culprit that can upset a baby’s stomach. The spices might change smell and taste of the milk and in extreme cases the baby might refuse to eat. Some offensive foods that fall under the “spice” category are things like garlic which even adults find stinky at times or chili pepper.

Fiber Veggies Foods

The usual general wisdom is to consume a lot of fiber and green vegetables. The issue is this high fiber diet can be hard on the baby’s digestion and give them gas problems or indigestion. The general wisdom is to avoid high-fiber vegetables like most of the brassicas (cole crops like broccoli and cabbage).

Citrus Fruits

While citrus is delicious it is also high acidity. Things are usually alright when limited, too much can cause irritation to the baby’s digestive tract. Other fruits also get blamed like pineapples or prunes.

This is not a full exhaustive list though these are the most common culprits to first check for. There are other foods that cause problem though issues vary family to family as all people and babies are different. The general wisdom is to try to maintain a balanced diet and try to eat in a way where the baby will have an easier time while their own digestive tract develops.

How to Determine Which Foods are Causing Problems

I have some experience with this as I had a friend who developed a mysterious autoimmune disease. Despite eliminating everything we still couldn’t narrow it down so he was on a very thin diet of beef, pears, and boxes of Triscuits. When he ate all of those things all of his immune reactions would die down.

This is the hardest part of trying to determine food troubles because it can take a while to determine what the actual problem is. Doctors will usually direct someone towards what is called an elimination diet and there are even some special diets for people who suffer from GERD.

Record Keeping

It helps to track what is being consumed day to day and what the end result was. Was the baby being fussy? Was the baby content?

It can take weeks to test all this out. It also helps to record other things such as diarrhea, constipation, or any gas and bloating that can be observed.

Eliminate Foods

Usually people start their elimination diet by removing all the common foods known to cause problems. They will abstain from the food for around 3 weeks and see if they notice change in symptoms. Some do this food elimination part as an all at once thing and some eliminate foods one at a time. When they remove the food all at once the process is often to reintroduce the foods slowly one at a time.

The main goal here is to remove the baby’s symptoms as you know you have removed the problem food.


Once the problem food or foods has been isolated testing can be done further to help confirm. People usually reintroduce the food at this stage to confirm a return of symptoms after breastfeeding though the process of isolating an allergy is also useful when they reach the solid food stage.

Some people will test the food again when the baby is older as their tummies get better at dealing with food in older age. A lot of this process is best done under a doctor.

Woes of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is sort of a continuation of when the baby was in the womb because they are still being nutritioned from your body. You are linked. Whatever a mother consumes, the baby will be taking in so it is important to try to keep it healthy and safe.

A lot of new parents think that their child is a trouble child after a while because fussiness, in general, is a natural development up to a high point usually around the 6-week mark. After the high point, a lot of babies go back down in terms of their fussiness.

If you suspect you are dealing with an allergen issue, then the best course is to convey that to a doctor who will give you information and resources to assist with diet changes.

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