How to Help the Sensitive Gut Baby & Toddler

baby bottle feeding
Cheri Moore

Written by Cheri Moore

May 21, 2021

Learn how to help the sensitive gut baby and toddler through either allergy testing, an elimination diet, or finding the right formula.

A Note from the University of Nebraska Breastfeeding Conference

Dr. Ebrahim Shakir, MD is an allergist and immunology specialist. In 2017, he spoke at The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Breastfeeding Conference. His topic, breastfeeding and food allergies in breastfed babies. Dr. Shakir emphasized the importance of understanding differences in a baby’s physical symptoms and behaviors. Why? Due to the need for parents and professionals to distinguish between a medical condition like acid reflex that needs medical attention versus food allergies or sensitivities. Most importantly, Dr. Shakir recommends food allergy testing by an allergist. Because food allergies are inherited, DNA, allergies remain despite breastfeeding. Dr. Shakir shares that research supports the following:

If a breastfed baby or child does develop signs of a food allergy, and the allergen can be pinpointed, it is recommended that the mother (and child if eating solids) avoids eating the trigger food. However, Dr. Shakir advises parents not to forever remove the offending food but to eliminate the trigger for three to four weeks past the point when the child’s symptoms resolve, and then to reintroduce it. It appears children are more likely to “outgrow” their allergy risk if they are exposed to a trigger through careful oversight by their health care provider, rather than fall back on the complete, long-term avoidance so touted until recently.

Allergies and the Breastfed Baby: Report from Univ. of Nebraska Breastfeeding Conference By: Rita Brhel, Hastings, Nebraska (Retrieved from https://lllusa.org/allergiesand-the-breastfed-baby-report-from-university-of-nebraska-breastfeeding-conference/ )

Common Food Allergy Symptoms

The following food allergy symptoms should be tracked and shared with your pediatrician:

  • Eczema, hives, diaper rash
  • Runny nose, congestion
  • Asthma, trouble breathing
  • Immediate GI distress like a bloated belly, loose stools
  • Vomiting
  • Anaphylactic reactions

Work with your doctor to order allergy testing. Also, ask your doctor to rule out the possibility that your infant has difficulty digesting sugar. Unfortunately, it takes time to schedule allergy testing and get your results. While waiting, I encourage breastfeeding mothers to change what they eat by following a food elimination diet.

Where Should I Start?

The first step is to choose one or two of the most common food allergies: dairy products, wheat and gluten, eggs, chocolate, nuts, and soy. Then, eliminate that food from your diet. Learn more about an elimination diet and the inflammatory effects of some foods in my post, Six Foods Contributing to Inflammation. An example: learn why inflammation from a food allergen affects your baby’s ear health.

Overwhelmed? Today, stores carry numerous allergen-free products. If the answer for your baby is avoiding gluten-full products, there is hope for your grocery budget with my blog tips on Affordable Gluten Free Cooking and Baking. Best of all, you can still enjoy desserts like homemade, creamy puddings, delicious pies, and muffins. Einkorn, one of our precious grains retaining its original DNA, is tolerated by most individuals intolerant to gluten. Steiger Family Farms shares recipes and resources that are delicious and gut-friendly.

If you are breastfeeding a baby or have a toddler with a sensitive gut, use my free printable chart to keep a journal of what you eliminated, the date, and the baby’s or toddler’s physical symptoms and behaviors. If there are no changes in symptoms or behaviors, eliminate a second food.

Printable Food Elimination Chart

food elimination chart with systems and date tracking

Sensitive Gut Baby & Toddler Formulas

If bottle-feeding exclusively or part of the time, keep reading to learn about the different types of formula helping babies with a sensitive gut. Caution, when trying a new formula buy a small amount. Your little one may reject the taste of the formula. I share information about milk-free and soy-free formulas, sensitive-gut with probiotic support formulas, and organic formulas.

If bottle-feeding full-time or part-time and your budget allows, I encourage you to choose a formula that is Non-GMO and organic. Why organic?

My adventure into the world of milk-free eating started when my first baby became so congested she struggled to breathe. In fact, she had almost all the symptoms listed on my food elimination chart. However, her allergy testing found no concerns. Her obvious symptoms of distress prompted the allergist to share that she most likely was reacting to preservatives, chemicals, and additives used in processed foods. Thus, he recommended for me and my daughter to eat only organic foods. As our diet changed, her overall health improved; however, she continued to have GI difficulties.

I thought there was no more help. Nor did I ever think to take her to a research hospital or genetic counselor. We now know she had a medical condition affecting her ability to properly digest food. When you do not find answers, I encourage you to find a specialist at a research hospital or a specialist near your home in your area of concern.

Organic and Non GMO Baby & TODDLER Formulas:

1. Baby’s Only Organic Premium Dairy Toddler Formula
a. Non-GMO
b. Made in USA

Baby's Only Premium Dairy Toddler Formula

2. Baby’s Only Organic DHA & ARA Sensitive Toddler Formula
a. Non-GMO, Low-lactose levels
b. DHA & ARA from organic eggs

Baby's Only Sensitive Toddler Formula

Baby’s Only Organic® Formulas | Organic Baby Food | Organic Formula (naturesone.com)

Formulas for the Sensitive Baby Gut

Below is a list of formula options that may work for your baby has a sensitive gut.

Milk-free Formulas:

1. Holle Organic Infant Goat Milk Formula
a. Non-GMO and organic
b. European (Germany, Switzerland)

Holle Organic Infant Goat Milk Formula

Organic’s Best – Organic Baby Formula from Europe (organicsbestshop.com)

2. Kabrita Goat Milk Formula
a. USA organic
b. Formula and toddler snacks

Kabrita Goat Milk-based trial box

Our Products | Kabrita USA

3. Nanny Care Goat Milk Formula
a. European product
b. Formula for different stages

Nannycare infant formula

Nanny Care (littlemooorganics.com)

Non-GMO Formulas:

1. Earth’s Best Non-GMO Plant Based Infant Formula with Iron and Soy-Based Powder
a. Lactose-Free (will still have milk protein, casein)
b. Remember, Non-GMO does not mean organic

Earth's Best Infant Formula

Non-GMO Plant-Based, Soy Baby Formula | Earth’s Best (earthsbest.com)

2. PurAmino DHA & ARA Hypoallergenic Infant Formula
a. amino acid-based powder with iron
b. No milk protein, no casein
c. Non-GMO
d. Made by Enfamil
e. Has PurAmino Jr for ages 1 and older, unflavored and Vanilla powder

PurAmino Hypoallergenic Infant Formula

PurAmino DHA & ARA Powder Baby Formula, 14.1 oz Can – Walmart.com – Walmart.com

3. Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula
a. Adds probiotics commonly found in breast milk
b. Non-GMO
c. Gluten Free

Happybaby Organic Infant Formula

Happybaby Organic Infant Formula With Iron Milk Based Powder – 21oz : Target

Baby’s Only Dairy with DHA Toddler Formula, 12.7 Oz (Pack of 1) | Non GMO | USDA Organic | Clean Label Project Verified | Brain & Eye Health: Amazon.com: Grocery & Gourmet Food

Anti-Reflux, Spit Up Formulas:

These formulas are often times thicker and require a special bottle nipple.

1. Enfamil A.R.
a. Reduces frequent spit-up

Enfamil A.R. Formula

Enfamil® A.R Formula | Enfamil

2. Similac for Spit-Up
a. Non-GMO
b. DHA, Lutein, Vit. E, milk-protein and rice-based with iron

Similac for Spit Up Formula

Similac® For Spit-Up, Easy-to-Digest Infant Formula, Reduces Frequency of Spit-Up, Supports Brain & Eyes, Powder, 1.41-lb Tub

Snap Eligible Formulas

1. Similac Organic Gentle, Easy-to-Digest with A2 Milk Formula
a. Snap Eligible
b. Non-GMO, A2 Beta Casein is milk protein

Similac Organic with A2 Milk Formula

Similac® Organic with A2 Milk* Infant Formula, Certified USDA Organic, Easy to Digest, Non-GMO,† Baby Formula, Powder, 1.45 lb (Case of 4)

2. Enfamil Enspire Formula
a. Snap Eligible
b. Has MFGM and Lactoferrin, a protein found in Colostrum & Breast Milk

Enfamil Enspire Formula

Enspire™ Infant Formula | Enfamil

Soy and Milk Free Hypoallergenic Formulas

These formulas may require a prescription from your doctor. Prior to purchasing, ask for samples from your doctor in case your baby does not like the formula. The formulas are covered by many Insurance plans (HCPC B4153). You can order them through home care, a pharmacy, or some medical equipment stores.

1. Neocate Formula
a. Contains nucleotides, which are naturally found in breast milk.
b. Dairy Free, no cross-contamination, Soy-free
c. WIC approved

Neocate formula

Amino Acid-Based Baby Formula and Nutritional Products | Neocate

2. SMA Alfamino Hypoallergenic Infant Formula
Formula4Sucess service team (1-844-283-0365) is available to provide assistance with benefits, claim support, claim appeal, and product supply.
Product is:
a. Lactose & Gluten free
b. Amino-base, broken down cow protein to minimize the chance of allergic reaction

Alfamino Infant formula

Home | Alfamino®

3. EleCare Infant
–Financial Help is available through Abbott Nutrition’s Pathway Plus Reimbursement
–WIC Coverage & Medicaid
–Support 1-855-217-0698 https://elecare.com/insurance-coverage
a. Infant formula has DHA/ARA, Amino-Acid Based Powder

elecare infant formula

EleCare.com

4. EleCare Jr. for ages 1 and older TODDLERS & CHILDREN
b. Unflavored, Chocolate, Vanilla, & Banana
c. Find recipes for each flavor https://elecare.com/patient-resources/recipes

four flavors of elecare jr formula

EleCare – Home

5. Nutramigen Puramino
a. Probiotic support, DHA, No artificial growth hormones
b. Lactose-free
c. Hydrolyze proteins “less likely to trigger an allergic response”
“Helps babies overcome milk allergies”

Nutramigen hypoallergenic formula

Nutramigen® Hypoallergenic Powder Formula | Enfamil

Learn More

Wonderful educational link for parents https://www.isitcowsmilkallergy.co.uk
• Template for a Symptom Diary and Checklist

Get your FREE Activity Booklet

Learn how and what to observe!

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