At about 3 weeks of age, baby “Tinkerbell” became generally irritable and a veritable puke-fountain. She’s nurse, then immediately spit it all back up with force, then want to nurse again as she’d just lost her lunch. She’d repeat this pattern for about 3-4 times until she was exhausted and I was tapped out on breastmilk. In between feedings she remained irritable, would vomit, arch and fuss. Additionally she had a very red and raw sore bottom.
It was the strangest thing – like flipping a switch. The first 3 weeks were fine then suddenly in that third week everything changed. At first I though perhaps she had a little tummy bug and it would get better soon. But as it continued and baby and I were having to both change clothes multiple times a day and our household was just swimming in baby puke I knew we needed help.
I made an appointment with her pediatrician who was first concerned that it may be pyloric stenosis. Luckily this was ruled out by an ultrasound so that left looking at food intolerance. As she was 100% breastfed that means something I was eating was bothering her. The DR gave me the choice of stopping nursing and giving her some special baby formula or continuing nursing, but going on an exclusion diet to identify the intolerance.
The DR actually pushed for the formula option but I wanted to at least give the nursing my best try before handing in the towel. When it comes to nursing I have a bit of history of with stubbornness. You see baby 1, (my big boy now) “Captain Hook” never wanted to latch on when he was a baby. We took him to 6 different Lactation Consultants, 1 pediatric Osteopath and Multiple Breastfeeding Clinics but nothing worked so I ended up pumping for 6 months and giving it to him in a bottle. To keep up the flow I’d wake up every few hours to pump even while he slept. Luckily this baby, Tinkerbell didn’t have any latching problems, just an intolerance.
So, before trying the special formula I decided to see what improvements if any could be made by modifying my diet this time. At first the DR had me cut out all DAIRY / GLUTEN / SOY / EGGS / NUTS. So what to eat? Pretty much meat, fish, fruit, veggies and rice. For snacks I have rice cakes with jam or sliced ham or fruit. I had wanted to try a dairy-free, gluten-free diet in any case so this was a good excuse. I was supposed to exclude everything for 2 wks, then re-introduce each item one at a time to see what was disturbing her. It turns out it’s all of them to some degree. So, as long as I don’t have any of these it’s smooth sailing. But let a shaving of Parmesan be in a salad, or a light dusting of flour on sauteed veggies and I’m in a world of trouble with baby-girl. After having something off-diet, the next evening she’ll be fussy, puking repeatedly, gassy and very irritable. After being up with her all night as she cried and fussed after inadvertently having some gluten – I’ve gotten very very careful about reading all ingredients and double/triple checking before I eat things.
Her intolerance isn’t equal. The worst offenders for her seem to be the Dairy & Gluten. Whilst those make her miserable in almost every way, the soy seems to have a similar yet milder reaction while the eggs and nuts seem to give her diarrhea and raw skin on her bottom and irritability, sparing us the total puke-fest.
Having now been on the diet for a bit I’ve found not only does she suffer when I’ve slipped, but so have I. I already knew I was lactose intolerant, but I still enjoyed the occasional yogurt or goats cheese which didn’t seem to trigger my intolerance. But now, not having any dairy or gluten, when some has made it’s way back into my diet I found I’ve had digestive issues. So, the restrictive diet for the baby has shown I do better without the dairy and gluten as well.
Having 2 older boys who are cheese and pasta fans – I’ve found myself making separate meals for myself vs what I’m making for the family. But seeing the benefits the baby has experienced, and for myself feel that I might start moving the rest of the family to a gluten-free / dairy-free diet as well. There’s no reason to cut out the soy / eggs / nuts for them as they seem to do ok with them.
What I’ve found most challenging is eating out. Even most salads which you’d think would be safe have nuts or a sprinkling of cheese or croutons. Sides of sauteed veggies often have some flour added and hidden ingredients lurk everywhere. I find myself ordering grilled fish and veggies, or steaks just to know I’ll be eating pure protein and not a prepared food.
I’ve bought a few cookbooks, but my favorite so far has been the one by Kiwi Magazine called Allergy Friendly Food for Families. It is big and bright with good photos and each page is color coded to show what intolerance it addresses. I’ve also been adapting some of my favorite recipes to be gluten or dairy free. Some of my favorite gluten free products to date include:
- Tesco’s Free From Crumpets
- Tesco’s Free From Digestive Biscuits
- Doves Farm Self Rising White Flour
Hopefully she’ll grow out of these intolerances – but she might not. Even if she does, I’m not sure we’d go back to gluten and dairy seeing how much better I feel without it.
Have you had to deal with food intolerance in your family? What are some products or tips you recommend?