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Solid Foods & Diaper Rash: Here's What to Expect

Your “baby’s first” milestones are fun to witness—their first smile, first tooth, first word and now first solid foods. Exciting stuff! You get to watch your baby show a range of expressions as they taste sweet, salty, bitter, sour and savory foods for the first time.

Unfortunately, that’s not all—you may also find that new episodes of diaper rash emerge.

Why Do Solid Foods Cause Diaper Rash?

When food changes, poop changes. The consistency, content and frequency of your baby’s poop changes when they go from drinking breast milk or formula to eating solid foods. The color and odor may change as well.

Your baby's digestive system, which is still developing, has to work harder to process these new substances and enzymes. This can lead to more acidic poop, more frequent bowel movements, and diarrhea that irritates the skin and can cause or worsen diaper rash.

As the baby’s digestive system adjusts to new foods, this should become less of a problem. However, you should also be aware that some solid foods are known to be more likely to cause a reaction and irritate the skin than others.

Common Culprits: Foods that Cause or Worsen Diaper Rash

Because acidic foods tend to be the most common culprits in causing diaper rash, you may hear some people refer to this diaper rash as “acidic diaper rash.” Foods that are known to trigger diaper rash in some babies include:

  • Citrus fruits and juices – oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes
  • Tart fruits and juices – pineapples, plums and peaches
  • Berries – strawberries and blueberries
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based foods – tomato soup, ketchup, spaghetti sauce

Some of these foods, like fruit juices, peaches and plums, along with newly introduced dairy products can also cause diarrhea. The messy poop and the more frequent wiping and cleaning can also result in diaper rash.

How do you know if a food will cause diaper rash? You don’t. Like many of the adventures of parenthood, the answers come from trial and reaction. Note how we didn’t say “trial and error.” Food sensitivities and skin reactions are not your fault—and in many cases, they are only temporary until your baby’s body adjusts.

Here are some steps you can take to ease your baby into solid foods and help minimize diaper rash.

What To Do When Solid Foods Trigger Diaper Rash

There are 4 main things you can do to make the transition to solid foods easier on both of you.

  1. Keep a record of what works and what doesn’t. A bit of diarrhea or a slight change in consistency is totally normal for your baby to experience when switching to solids. But, if you notice it happening far more frequently after they eat a particular food, make a note of it. That being said, don’t be afraid to have them try new foods. This is supposed to be a little bit of an adventure after all.
  2. Introduce new foods one at a time. This makes it easier to see what food is causing the reaction. Try the same food for 3 to 5 days and if there is no reaction, introduce another food.
  3. Start with foods less likely to cause a reaction. Acidic ingredients lead to acidic poops! Choose a non-acidic food to introduce first such as pureed bananas, apples, or mangoes or a single-grain baby cereal. Consider pureed meats and vegetables next. Look for foods with no added sugar or salt.
  4. Take irritating foods out of the diet for now. If your baby loves the very food causing a diaper rash or diarrhea, don’t worry. As long as there’s no allergic reaction, you can introduce the item again later after their digestive system develops more and gets used to a wider array of foods.

If your baby has eczema, an egg allergy or other known food allergy, check with your doctor to see if there are any foods you should avoid or be more cautious with. If you see a reaction such as a rash or hives outside of the diaper area, do not feed your baby any more of that food until you talk to your baby’s doctor.

It’s worth repeating: Your baby’s digestive system is new and developing. In most cases, diaper rash when introducing solid foods is more of a sensitivity or temporary intolerance than a food allergy. This information is here to help you, not scare you.

Starting solid foods can be fun too! Rounds of using a spoon like airplane and interactions around food help you build even more connection with your baby. With all the different colors and textures smeared around your baby’s mouth while they eat, you’ll also have many more cute pics to share with family and friends.