Is my baby sensitive to wheat?
Updated: Apr 1
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 can wheat be kept in your diet without triggering issues.
What also really matters is that taking out wheat from your diet can affect your nutrition in a major way. Wheat is an actual food group, so in essence taking out wheat means removing a whole food group. That can leave nutritional holes in your diet.
In my experience, when wheat is removed, and keep in mind that often dairy and soy have already often been removed (another food group- Dairy), the lost nutrients are commonly not adequately replaced. Wheat provides important carbohydrate and energy (ie calories) to maintain your energy levels and support breast feeding as well as some protein and important nutrients 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 provide you with important energy and nutrition to prevent adverse affects including weight loss and reduction in breast milk supply.
Using a variety of wheat free grains is key here and if you have extra limitations such as soy then finding suitable food replacements can be especially tricky. If also egg free then a combination of these restrictions can be very challenging.
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 actually developing. Having a time frame for elimination with the plan of trialling through breast milk to determine any issue and tolerated levels is very important.
It is also important to think about wheat in a different way that we thing of gluten. We know about wheat in terms of gluten but this is often only relevant to Coeliac Disease and those with 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 note at end of this blog for more detail. If a full gluten free exclusion has been adopted, easy 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.
Think of wheat as wheat rather than the gluten collection- if wheat is shown to be an issue in food trials, other options worth trialling is rye, 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 and support to make choices for them selves and their babies.
Gluten free oats: only relevant for Coeliac Disease and gluten sensitivity. All oats contain 'gluten' (called AVENIN in oats) but the 'gluten free' term means not contaminated with wheat during growing, storage and transport (etc).