why does my baby's face turn red when breastfeeding

Why Does My Baby’s Face Turn Red When Breastfeeding? 12 Reasons Explained.

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Have you ever asked yourself: “Why does my baby’s face turn red when breastfeeding?”

You’re not alone! From a natural blush to food allergens in breast milk, there’s a colorful array of reasons behind those rosy cheeks. It could be a cute heat rash, harmless milk rash, or even a potential allergic reaction.

We’re diving into every angle, from sensitive skin and blood sugar spikes to cow’s milk protein intolerance, affecting both breastfed and bottle-fed babies.

So, settle in as we uncover the mysteries of the breastfeeding process and breast milk and its effects on your little one’s adorable face. Let’s get started!

Why does my baby’s face turn red when breastfeeding?

1. Blood sugar spike

One reason your baby’s cheeks may turn red during the first few months of breastfeeding is due to a blood sugar spike. When your baby is breastfeeding, they are consuming milk, which contains sugar. This sugar can cause a spike in your baby’s blood sugar levels, which can lead to a red face. If you suspect this is the cause, try feeding your baby smaller, more frequent meals to avoid blood sugar spikes.

2. Warmth

Illustration of a baby bundled up in warm clothes with red cheeks

Another reason your baby’s face may turn red during breastfeeding is due to being warm. If your baby is bundled up or in a warm room, they may become overheated and their face may turn red. Try dressing your baby in lighter clothing and keeping the room temperature cooler to prevent overheating.

Read my post: The Ultimate guide to dressing your baby for a good night’s sleep for more advice about how to dress your baby.

3. Dietary intolerance

Some babies may be sensitive to certain foods in your diet, such as spices, nuts, or cow milk which can transfer to your breast milk. If you suspect this is the case, try eliminating these foods from your diet and see if it helps.

Consider a switch to a breastfeeding friendly protein powder:

Are protein powders safe for breastfeeding?

The 5 best protein powders for breastfeeding moms

Our favorite whey protein powder for breastfeeding and lactating moms: drink wholesome Mocha Egg White Protein Powder has a clean and simple formula. Just REAL ingredients! It’s crafted with egg white protein, cocoa, and coconut palm sugar… that’s the essence of it. WOW!

Top 3 Reasons it’s great for breastfeeding moms:

  1. Easy Digestibility: Made with real foods, it’s gentle on mom’s stomach, ensuring she gets the nutrients without discomfort.
  2. Dairy-Free Goodness: No dairy or lactose, making it a top pick for moms avoiding potential allergens for their little ones.
  3. Pure & Wholesome: With 100% real food ingredients, it offers natural nutrition to support milk production and mom’s overall health.

4. Food allergies

Drawing of different foods (spices, nuts, cow milk) transferring into a milk droplet. Adjacent to it, an illustration of a baby with red cheeks.

If your baby’s skin turns red on the cheeks or other parts of their body after breastfeeding, it could be due to a food allergy. Sometimes, mothers consume food allergens that can pass through their breast milk and trigger an allergic reaction in their babies.

Common food allergens include dairy, soy, wheat, nuts, and eggs.

5. Milk rash

Milk rash, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common condition that affects infants.

Not to be confused with neonatal baby acne, it is a type of eczema that appears as a red, itchy rash on the cheeks, chin, and forehead.

Food allergies, irritants, and genetics can all trigger milk rash.

6. Cow milk protein intolerance

Cow milk protein intolerance (CMPI) is a condition where the baby’s immune system reacts to the protein in cow’s milk.

It can cause a range of symptoms, including skin rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, and irritability.

CMPI is different from lactose intolerance, which is a digestive disorder that affects the body’s ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk.

Both your breast milk and baby formulas have the potential to introduce cow’s milk into your baby’s system. If you consume dairy products, your child will undoubtedly consume cow’s milk protein.


To prevent allergic reactions and milk rash in breastfed babies, it is essential to identify and avoid trigger foods. You can consult with your doctor or a lactation specialist to help you identify the foods that may be causing the problem. In some cases, your doctor may recommend eliminating certain foods from your diet or switching to hypoallergenic baby formula.

7. Blood vessels enlarging

When your baby sucks on your breast, the blood vessels in their face and head might enlarge. This can cause their cheeks to turn red, especially if they are sucking hard or for an extended period. This is a completely normal response and nothing to worry about.

8. Teething

Infographic showing a baby with red cheeks and a new tooth coming through causing pain

Teething is a common cause for a baby’s cheeks to turn red while breastfeeding. As the new teeth push through the gums, it can cause discomfort and inflammation, leading to redness in the face. This process can make the blood vessels enlarge, resulting in a flushed appearance on your breastfed baby’s skin.

Our favorite teething gel: Mommy’s Bliss Organic Little Gums Soothing Massage Gel Day and Night Combo

Why we love this:

  1. Organic Ingredients: Let’s face it, our babies deserve nothing but the best. This product is crafted with USDA certified organic ingredients, ensuring that your baby gets a natural and gentle touch without any harmful chemicals.
  2. Dual Action Relief: Not just a one-trick pony! This soothing massage gel not only provides relief from teething discomfort but also calms and relaxes with its lavender and chamomile essence. It’s like a spa day, but for your baby!
  3. Trusted Brand: Mommy’s Bliss isn’t just a catchy name; it’s a promise. With years of experience and countless positive reviews, you can trust that this product will deliver on its claims and bring that much-needed bliss to both mommy and baby.

9. Tiny germs

During feeding, your baby’s mouth comes into contact with your breast, which can sometimes contain bacteria or other tiny germs. If your baby’s immune system is still developing, they might develop a mild infection that can cause redness and irritation on their cheeks or other affected skin.

If you notice other symptoms like fever or fussiness, it might be a sign that your baby needs to seek medical attention immediately.

10. Eczema

Eczema is a common condition that affects many babies. It is a type of skin rash that is characterized by red, itchy, and dry skin. Eczema can occur anywhere on your baby’s body, including their face. Eczema in infants may be aggravated during breastfeeding.

11. Heat rash

Heat rash is another common skin condition that can cause your baby’s face to turn red while breastfeeding.

Heat rash occurs when sweat glands and ducts become blocked, causing small red spots or red blotches on your baby’s skin.

Heat rash can be aggravated by the heat generated during breastfeeding, causing irritated skin on your baby’s face to turn into red patches. Your newborn baby’s facial muscles are very active while consuming breast milk supply, so it can be a normal reaction.

12. Dry skin

Dry skin is a common condition that can cause your baby’s face to turn red while breastfeeding.

Dry skin occurs when your baby’s skin loses moisture, causing it to become dry, flaky, and itchy.

Dry skin can be caused by several factors, including cold weather, low humidity, and excessive bathing. Dry skin can be aggravated during breastfeeding, causing your baby’s face to turn red.

The best baby lotion: ELLAOLA Deep Moisturizing Baby Lotion

Why this lotion is so great:

  1. Plant-Powered Goodness: This lotion is brimming with plant-based ingredients. No synthetic mumbo-jumbo here. Just pure, natural nourishment that your baby’s skin will drink up.
  2. Sensitive Skin’s Best Friend: Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, it’s tailor-made for those delicate baby cheeks. Whether it’s a post-bath massage or a mid-day moisture boost, this lotion’s got your back.
  3. Long-Lasting Hydration: With its unique blend of ingredients, this lotion offers deep hydration that lasts. No need for constant reapplications. One dollop, and your baby is set for hours of soft, supple skin.

When to seek medical attention

Breastfeeding is a natural process for most babies, and it is common for your baby’s face to turn red while nursing.

If your baby’s red face is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be a sign of a more serious problem. Some of the symptoms to look for include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Rapid breathing

  • Blue lips or face

  • Unresponsiveness

  • High fever

  • Diarrhea or vomiting

  • Rash or hives

  • Skin irritation that doesn’t resolve

These symptoms may be a sign of a serious medical condition that requires prompt treatment.

Baby’s Pediatrician

Photo of a concerned parent holding their baby with pronounced red cheeks. Adjacent, a detailed set of icons showcasing symptoms.

If your baby’s face turns red while breastfeeding, but the red rash is not accompanied by any other symptoms, you should still discuss this with your baby’s pediatrician or health provider. Your pediatrician can help you determine if there is an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.

Harlequin color change is a rare (only 10% of newborns) condition where half of a baby’s face will turn red, usually when he/she is lying on her side. It’s not commonly associated with breastfeeding and is a benign condition usually fading away after a few seconds.

Your pediatrician may ask you questions about your baby’s:

  • feeding habits

  • sleeping patterns

  • overall health.

They may also perform a physical exam to check for any underlying medical conditions. Depending on the results of the exam, your pediatrician may recommend further testing or refer you to a specialist.


As a paramedic, I would strongly advise parents to take a photo, or even better a video, so the doctor can see the redness plus any other symptoms. Also keep a diary of when it happens, how long it lasts, what foods you have eaten, time of day and any other information you think could be relevant to help develop a clinical picture.


That’s a wrap, folks! Rosy red cheeks during breastfeeding? Usually totally normal. It could be anything from a heat rush to a cow milk intolerance.

A quick tip while nursing: keep your diet balanced. Love spicy food? It might be causing your baby’s flushed face. If you suspect a food allergen, chat with your healthcare provider.

Remember, our little ones are still growing and they might be more sensitive to irritants. A blush during a feeding session is often no big deal, but if you spot other symptoms like difficulty breathing or persistent rashes, call your pediatrician. If redness persists or you notice worrying signs, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.

As parents, we’re on this journey together, one day at a time!

Final thoughts

When I noticed my child’s cheeks had red blotches during breastfeeding and bottle feeding I quickly worked out it was because I had recently eaten a spicy meal! After that, I made sure to have a healthy diet and that soon resolved the issue. Remember many babies can develop a harmless skin rash but always seek professional advice if worried.

Further reading:
The Best Wearable Breast Pump

Laryngomalacia and Breastfeeding


Have questions? I have answers.

No, cow’s milk protein found in baby formulas can also trigger milk rash.

Your baby’s face might go red during feeding due to the effort involved in sucking, or they might be warm from being close to your body. If they’re bottle feeding, make sure the formula or breast milk isn’t too hot.

If half of your baby’s face turns red when nursing, it could be due to pressure from lying on that side. If spots appear on your baby’s skin or there’s an adverse reaction, it might indicate an allergy.

Signs of a baby being allergic to breast milk could include persistent fussiness, diarrhea, or blood in the stool. Spots on your baby’s skin or a rash could also indicate an adverse reaction.

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