Challenging While Breastfeeding

What is Challenging?

A challenge is a term used when you try a very small amount of an allergen to see if your body can handle it. In our children's case that allergen is milk. Research has shown that most children will grown out of a cow's milk protein allergy by the age of three. Therefore it is important to challenge at certain points to test whether they have grown out of their allergy. That said however, if a baby has reacted to cow's milk protein in breastmilk then their allergy is usually considered severe and therefore you must proceed with great caution.

It is extremely important that you do not challenge your child's allergy unless you have been advised to do so by a medical professional such as your GP or Health Visitor. To do so without their support or advice could lead to life-threatening consequences for your child.

It does feel scary to attempt a challenge because of this, but under medical advice it is a safe and controlled way of testing to see if your baby's body is now ready to process cow's milk protein.

How do you Challenge While Breastfeeding?

While breastfeeding a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy, challenging involves you trying a small amount of dairy in your diet to see if your child has a reaction when it is passed through your breastmilk. It will be tempting after months of being dairy free to head straight to the chocolate or ice-cream aisle in the supermarket and go nuts but resist the urge, start small. Choose something you will enjoy, you deserve it, but just have a small amount.

It can take up to 24 hours to see a reaction. So make sure you wait at least a day to see if your baby shows any signs of a reaction before trying the same amount again. If they manage this you can gradually increase it with advice from your GP or Health Visitor.

If you do begin to see some of the symptoms of your child's allergy appear again, DO NOT attempt to continue challenging your child. Speak to your GP, Health Visitor or Dietitian and they will be able to advise you further.

To read about my experience of challenging while breastfeeding, just click here.

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