Is my baby sensitive to oats?
Updated: Jan 24
Are you questioning if your baby is reacting to oats through your breast milk?
If you have established that your baby seems to significantly react to wheat in your diet, it does not necessarily follow that oats will be an issue. It also does not necessarily follow that rye and barley is a problem.
If somebody has Coeliac disease, we tend to take wheat, rye, barley and oats out of the diet as wheat contains gluten, and rye and barley and oats also contain proteins that are very similar to gluten.
In oats, the 'gluten' type of protein is called AVENIN. Avenin is not as 'gluteny' as gluten and oats that are guaranteed to not be contaminated with wheat (ie 'gluten free oats') can be tolerated by many people with Coeliac Disease (see note at end of this blog if you have Coeliac Disease).
When we speak of a baby reacting to wheat through breast milk, it can be useful to separate this from the 'gluten' concept and just think of wheat being the issue rather than gluten.
After wheat, oat is generally the next grain found not to be tolerated by breast fed babies. This occurrence is found to be far less than wheat, which after dairy and soy is the 3rd most common non IgE allergy in food sensitive babies.
Oats do not constitute a food group so can be easily replaced without loss of nutrients. A short term trial of removing oats from your diet and choosing a different porridge made from a non oat grain (such as buckwheat or rice made from rice flakes or millet porridge) or a different breakfast choice can help determine if oats is actually a trigger for your baby. If oats is a trigger, you could additionally trial oat milk on its own, given it has such a lower concentration of oats, to determine tolerance through breast milk. It only takes a few days to see impact of removing of adding oats and/or oat milk.
If excluded from the diet, plan to re-introduce via breast milk to confirm any suspected oat issue and if there is an issue plan to try again 3-4 months later as sensitive breast-fed babies can often grow out of food sensitivities, as their gut and systems mature.
Remember- oat milk also counts as an oat so if you are dairy free, replace oat milk with rice milk or another plant milk, fortified with calcium to the tune of 120mg calcium per 100ml. See end of blog for info re: rice milk and alternative plant milks.
Empowering women to make choices for them selves and their babies.
Rice/alternative plant milks are a handy vector for calcium and as a cooking ingredient but provide little in the way of protein and calories and other nutrients and for these reasons are not suitable for babies or toddlers as a dairy replacement. They are, however, useful as a food ingredient for example added to breakfast cereal, to make a white/bechamel sauce or in place of cow's milk in making cakes/muffins or pancakes.
If you have Coeliac Disease: you should discuss with your specialist before including oats in your diet so a monitoring baseline and follow up can be put into place to determine that you can in fact tolerate oats, by checking physiological markers/villi impact rather than just relying on lack of symptoms.