Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crossing my fingers

We knew that dairy passed through breast milk didn't agree with little E, so we were very cautious when introducing him to solids. When it came time to start dairy products we were encouraged to try yogurt first and went with an all natural organic yogurt. He didn’t have as bad of a reaction, but it still didn’t agree with him. So, we pretty much skipped right over the dairy section of Canada’s Food Guide and started trying dairy alternatives.

We have experimented with all kinds of milk alternatives for little E. The Pediatrician originally told me that perhaps little E was sensitive to dairy but might be able to handle goat’s milk. Nope, that didn’t go over so well. Next we tried soy – even though I really didn’t want to after my research on soy – but (luckily) that didn’t work either. Next we tried rice milk – kinda yucky – but it worked. We also tried almond milk and little E liked the taste much more but we had to give it up because there is a soy ingredient. All the while, I continued breastfeeding to ensure he was getting the best milk.

At 12 months I asked for an allergy test. I wanted answers, but I still didn’t get any. The allergy test showed that he wasn’t allergic to milk. The allergist explained that children with a milk “protein allergy” will typically outgrow it by the time there are three years old. I’m crossing my fingers that this is true for little E. In my research I read that 3% of infants have this, but since finding out I’ve met atleast 5 other babies just in playgroups or Mommy-Baby classes we have attended. It seems more and more common.

Now we stick with Organic Vanilla Enriched Rice Dream rice milk. Little E isn’t a big fan of the plain rice milk and I don’t blame him - vanilla tastes much better. It is enriched with vitamins A, B12, D and Calcium but still lacks the amount of calcium, protein and healthy fats that dairy provides.

To make sure he is getting his recommended intake of calcium. I need to incorporate a lot of non-dairy options into his diet. These include salmon, broccoli, bok choy, beans, and peas -peas in everything because he loves peas. We also need to make sure he is getting enough protein and healthy fats. For protein we eat a lot of beef, chicken, fish, eggs and beans. I also incorporate lentils and quinoa in a lot of my recipes. For healthy fats we use olive, canola and sunflower oils for cooking and baking. We can’t use margarines, butter or vegetable oils (which really is a blessing in disguise) because they contain dairy and soy. We eat avocados for snacks or in homemade guacamole and all natural peanut butter.

Making sure he is getting enough of these essential vitamins and nutrients through non-dairy foods is a lot more work than scooping up a bowl of yogurt or cutting a piece of cheese, but I’m really getting a hang of it now. I’ve learned so much, tried so many new healthy recipes and it has really helped Hubby and I eat much more healthier too. Almost every packaged food out there contains dairy or soy, so we practically skip most aisles in the grocery store now. It has helped me learn to prepare meals in advance and find creative recipes for making meals from scratch.

We’ve been told by the allergist and doctors to try dairy products every couple of months to check his progress. We tried them again at 15 months and just recently at 18 months. Both times trying all natural organic yogurt. He seems fine at first but after a couple days the night waking starts again. At 16 months I weaned him, but I am confident that we are providing him the foods he needs to thrive.

We’ve had quite a few setbacks. We originally had no idea about the soy sensitivity when he started developing a rash around his mouth. I finally tracked it down to the almond milk that we were giving him at the time. Since then we have learned that vegetable oils contain soy bean oil and many of the other dairy alternatives that we were giving him had soy in them.

Just last week I ran out of fresh garlic to season a sweet potato dish. Instead, I used a garlic salt that I had in the spice cabinet that I've rarely used. That night little E was up with tummy cramps and it wasn't until I re-traced my tracks that I discovered that the garlic salt had a soy by-product in it. Who would have thought garlic salt had more in it that garlic and salt! I discovered this at 2:30am by the way...because once he's up I need to find answers before I can fall back asleep.

It’s been a long journey but I feel like we have it under control this week now and hopefully with time it will resolve itself. It’s just a waiting game now.


  1. This is so helpful. I determined my son had a reaction to milk when he was about 3 months old. He was spitting up alot after every feed, screaming after feeding, waking up and screaming, and the last straw was finding tiny specs of blood in his stool. I cut out all dairy from my diet and there was improvement right away. It still wasn't great, so at his 6 month appointment the doctor prescribed something for reflux. This resolved all the feeding problems. He still wakes in the middle of the night, but settles easily.
    I still haven't fully tried him on any dairy products. Every now and then I'll have something with dairy or I'll give him some yogurt, but I probably need to commit to trying something for 3-4 days and see what happens. His 1 year checkup is tomorrow and I'll ask about seeing an allergist. I'm on twitter (@alisonjette) if you want to talk more.

  2. Good luck with his appointment today. It must have been such a relief to find out. I've found that the Doctors have never given me straight answers - but that's my experience. And I guess this milk protein allergy can go away at anytime so it is hard for them to give me answers. I've met children that grew out of it at 12 months and heard of others that took 3 1/2 years. Looking forward to hearing how your appointment went. I don't have twitter (yet).

  3. The appointment went well today. Doctor recommended trying dairy for a few days and seeing if there's a reaction. She also wants me to try taking him off the reflux meds, just not at the same time. We're going to wait on seeing an allergist, but I will be calling a dietician depending on the reaction to milk.

  4. Glad to hear it went well. I've been hassling the doctor's office to get a report on his results because I can't recall if they tested for soy - because soy wasn't on my radar back then. Good luck with your dairy trial period :)