Keeping a food and symptom diary

In the early stages of trying an exclusion diet with my son it was necessary to keep a strict food and symptom diary.

Each day I wrote down everything he ate and drank, and then whether he was up that night and for how long and how he was. I used a simple notepad and pen method.

When my other son came along and was showing similar symptoms, I kept a diary for him too, this time it was in the form of an app for my smart phone. I used Baby ESP, an app for recording breast or bottle feeds, medicine given, sleep patterns, and anything else you might care to record about a newborn baby. I used the diary section and kept notes each day on food and drink and symptoms.

Why is it necessary to keep a diary?

1) To explain symptoms to a healthcare professional. If you suspect an issue with your child the more information you have about symptoms, timings of occurrences and  and when they occur and what they have consumed before they occur the better. Then when you go to speak to a GP or another health professional you have full information for them.

2) To keep a strict list of forbidden foods. It is necessary to have a list of foods that your child can’t have. This is so important when handing them over to a childminder or crèche, or even if they are just going to a relative for an hour.

My younger child’s list of foods he couldn’t have when he began crèche was quite long:

  • dairy products
  • wheat products
  • rice
  • apples
  • citrus fruits
  • tomatoes

We used to have a list on the fridge, as it is normally me that is responsible for feeding time at the zoo, it was a handy reference for my husband if I was away or on a Saturday or whatever. In the crèche they had a laminated sheet with his list of forbidden foods stuck up on the wall, I’d recommend suggesting this to your childminder/crèche or even make one yourself to give them.

Current list on inside cover of copy for creche.
Current list on inside cover of copy for creche.


Keep the diary:

In a dedicated paper notebook.


In a Word document or notepad file on your computer.


On your smart phone – Evernote,  Google Keep [Playstore/iTunes], Baby ESP [Playstore/iTunes] or Total Baby are all good options.


What to record:

  • all food and drink during the day
  • any medications given
  • any waking at night
  • any symptoms – diarrhoea, constipation, wind pains, excema, whatever your concerns are


Breakfast: Readybrek with soya milk

11am 5 oz bottle

Dinner: Chicken & Sweet potato, soy yoghurt, water from sippy cup. 

3pm Snack – corn cake 5oz bottle

Tea: Boiled egg with brown toast and olive oil margarine

Bedtime: 7oz bottle

Awake at 1.30am, 4am with wind pains. Had to cycle legs to relieve wind and walk holding him upright to settle. 

Keeping a diary feels like yet another chore in an already busy life minding a young child, but it is well worth it to keep track of things especially when there is a problem. Once you start keeping the diary it will quickly become part of your routine.

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