Is my baby sensitive to wheat?
Updated: Jul 24
Have you found yourself wondering if your baby is sensitive to wheat via your breast milk? After dairy and soy, wheat is the next least tolerated non IgE allergen food by food sensitive breast-fed babies.
IgE allergies are the allergies that can't be tested - call it allergy or food intolerance- it does not really matter. What matters is working out if this is true for your baby or not, and if so, at what level wheat can be kept in your diet without causing a problem for your baby.
What also really matters is that taking out wheat from your diet can affect your nutrition in a major way. Wheat represents a whole food group, so in essence, taking out wheat means removing this food group and it's associated nutrients, which can leave you feeling very hungry and your diet nutritionally at risk.
In my experience, when wheat is removed, and keep in mind that often dairy and soy have already often been removed, the lost nutrients are commonly not well replaced.
Wheat provides much needed carbohydrate and calories to maintain your energy levels and support breast feeding as well as some protein and important vitamins and minerals such as thiamin.
Excluding wheat can leave a gaping nutritional hole in your diet.
Replacing lost nutrients is vital, and knowing the wheat free grains and products you can use to replace wheat can help you avoid being hungry, low in energy and prevent adverse affects including weight loss and potentially reduction in breast milk supply.
Using a variety of wheat free grains is key here and if you have extra limitations such as soy and /or egg then finding suitable food replacements can be especially tricky.
If you are hungry, it indicates you are not getting enough carbohydrates. This often happens if wheat is excluded and not adequately replaced.
Not to mention the importance of allergen exposure in the first year- taking out allergens and leaving them out may not be in the best interest of your baby in the long term as avoidance of allergens has been shown to increase the risk of allergies developing. Having a time frame for elimination with the plan of re-trialling through breast milk to determine any issue and tolerated levels is very important.
It is useful to think about wheat in a different way than we thing about gluten. We know about wheat in terms of gluten but this is often only relevant to Coeliac Disease and those with non Coeliac Disease gluten sensitivity. For babies, it is often more the wheat than the gluten so other gluten containing grains such as rye and barley and oats may be tolerated.
Oats do not need to be gluten free- see blog examining normal oats versus 'gluten feee' or 'wheat free' oats.. If a full gluten free exclusion has been adopted, diet trials can establish if this is necessary.
Sometimes, SPELT wheat may be tolerated- spelt wheat is still wheat but what we call an 'ancient grain'. Despite being classified as a wheat, there must be enough difference in the protein profile that allows it to be tolerated for some babies and adults.
Think of wheat as wheat rather than gluten- if wheat is shown to be an issue in food trials, other options worth trialling are rye and barley and maybe spelt. Once you have confirmed tolerance through breast milk, you may feel more comfortable trialling directly with your baby.
Empowering women through information to make choices for them selves and their babies.