As moms we are sort of prepared for curve balls. It seems like just when I get comfortable with our current situation before I know it something new is thrown our way!
Our most recent curve ball was thrown a couple weeks ago when it was confirmed Morgan (our 15 month old) is allergic to milk and eggs. On the surface I thought, well, no biggie, until I realized just how MANY things have milk and/or eggs in them!!!
I know there are a TON of parents out there with kids with food allergies, so I would LOVE your tips & comments.
So the curve ball wasn’t completely from left field. When Morgan was a baby she had bad colic and reflux. Since I was nursing exclusively I sort of thought she might have a food sensitivity to things in my breast milk. I started paying attention, and if I had cereal for breakfast, about 4 hours later she would be MISERABLE.
The lactation consultants at Milkalicious suggested I cut out all dairy, tree nuts & berries and it seemed to make a big difference. My colicky baby turned the corner at month 4 and me, nursing with a dairy-free diet, had about 6 – 7 great months, where she was overall a very happy baby. Payback for the first 4 months of hell for sure!
But I never knew FOR SURE if it was in fact a food thing, because a lot of babies grow out of colic around that time anyway. But what I did know is I didn’t want to chance it, so I remained dairy-free until I stopped nursing.
Then, around 10 – 12 months her irritability kicked in again. I blamed it on teething, separation anxiety, hurdling so many milestones like walking, etc. But now that we know it’s a food allergy, it makes TOTAL sense as this was the age we started her on more and more solid foods and I weaned from nursing.
A little after her first birthday, I tried giving her a sippy cup with whole organic milk to try. She took a sip, then immediately spit it out. Then watching what happened I thought “uh oh” she might have a milk allergy. EVERY spot where the milk touched her body turned into white welts and a red rash.
So of course I didn’t give her any more milk and at her 12 month doctor appointment I showed a picture to my doctor that I took with my iPhone and she referred us to a pediatric allergist to find out if there were other things she was allergic too.
It was weird, as we had been giving her cheeses, and different things with milk in them and on the surface it seemed like she was OK with them.
So at the allergist they did a skin test on her back to test for 16 different things. It was awful when they had to prick her back, but it only lasted a second. We held her and waited for the results. The milk and egg test spot swelled up almost immediately.
On a scale of 0 – 5, she was +4 for both milk and eggs, which is a pretty strong allergy. The milk I knew, but the egg one was a surprise. I just thought, “thank God we took her to get tested.” I wouldn’t have known for sure, except for the obvious whole milk, but we were told to avoid ALL things with milk or eggs in them.
We were sent home with hand outs, including lists of words that could mean “milk or egg” and it was apparent we were going to have to become major label readers.
It’s a bummer.
It didn’t FULLY hit me until we were at a party recently and I didn’t have lots of her own food packed. She started doing the point and “num num” sound wanting food and there was really nothing there she could have. No Goldfish, no Pirate’s Booty and certainly no birthday cupcakes. And I got a little sad, I have to admit.
But it’s all a learning process and from now on I realize I have to pack a bag of her own special snacks to bring to parties and anywhere I go.
And, lucky for me, my friend Melanie is the owner of Sensitive Sweets, a bakery specializing in cakes and cupcakes for for those with food allergies. Melanie has been a wealth of information as her son has severe food allergies. I am going to have her whip me up a yummy batch of milk-free and egg-free cupcakes so I can freeze them to take to parties from here on out.
And eating out hasn’t been an issue that much yet, but this seems like it is going to be a real challenge. Guess we will cross that bridge when we have to.
The Good News.
My family eats pretty healthy overall, but there were snacks in our cupboards that I have been giving to Emma that I thought were semi-okay. Then I started reading labels and it SHOCKED me just how many things have High Fructose Corn Syrup in them!
I don’t know much about this, but I know it seems pretty bad for you. Even things like graham crackers, salad dressing & ketchup have it in them. Shocked. I told my husband we are purging our kitchen with anything with HFCS in them. So this allergy will end up helping ALL of our family by eating “cleaner” and a little more pure.
And, thanks to stores like Trader Joe’s, Mother’s Market and Whole Foods, there are a TON of options out there that are alternatives to the traditional dairy. Again, a whole new world, and I end up shopping better for the entire family. Did you know you can buy rice milk or yogurt?
After 2 weeks of clearing her diet, her skin cleared up (she had a chronic mild rash on her cheeks & trunk) and she has been in a MUCH better mood. So, it is working, which is the most important thing. I just wish I had figured it out sooner.
So moms! If anyone out there has dealt with food allergies and has any tips/advice/suggestions I would love to hear your story. I am just starting this journey and would love to learn from those that have paved the way before me!