After receiving a few comments on Twitter and alike, I thought I'd share our little ones dairy free journey with you…. Top up that coffee it's a rambly one…
It should be noted there is a big difference in a dairy 'intolerance' and an 'allergy' Little lady's reaction was a very physical one, and an allergy I'm led to understand the child can grow out of over time. It's a long process of introducing it to her system slowly and in a controlled manner. An intolerance has to be managed quite differently.
I am at no point giving any form if medical advice here, I'm simply not qualified to. I'm merely sharing our experience and places I found useful. Should you suspect your child has an allergy or intolerance you should contact your GP.
So, 1 year ago I had a close friends hen do to attend, giggles a plenty and a police woman's hat to wear, I was looking forward to it. Little lady was almost 5 1/2 month's old, I'd exclusively breastfed until this point and a bottle would be a good plan so
I could drink gin she'd be settled without needing me.
Unable to express for love nor louboutins we opted to stock up on SMA. It's what little dude had, and got on just fine. A basket of cartons of the stuff later and could she keep down just 50ml, could she heck. Could she projectile aforementioned 50ml to clear 3 metres, abso.blimmin.lutely.
A few attempts with the same result later we were Worried, Frustrated, Confused, and fed up of cleaning the walls so off to the GP we went…. And came home again feeling like a neurotic mother that had wasted a 10 minute slot of the surgery's time.
But, something wasn't right, it wasn't wind, she wasn't gorging herself, she'd keep down my milk. I tried Aptamil, perhaps SMA was too rich for her. Same again. She'd cry, a painful cry, looking for guidance I visited our village baby clinic to speak with our health visitor *cue that tilt of the head*
“Well, these things can and will happen if you stop breastfeeding and wean too early”
Ok. So. 1. I had breastfed her, exclusively 24 hrs a day, until the point I was so sleep deprived it made me throw up. I wanted to do what YOU told me was the best thing for her. And here we are anyway.
2. Even if I hadn't breastfed her, a worried mother comes to you concerned looking for support and you make her feel like she's doing a sh*t job. Well that's just fab.
I wasn't going to get anywhere fast, all I got was a load of leaflets and told to simply drop the idea of formula altogether….she was almost 6 months… I'll breastfeed her forever then shall I? With that I thought I'd stick with the GP.
Off I went again. The GP was more open to the possibility there was a problem, but encouraged me to try just one other brand. After some reading online, I went for Hipp Organic. I made up a small amount, she drank it, so far so good. Within 10 minutes her face ballooned, red blotches everywhere down to her chest she was smacking her lips and sticking out her tongue, she wasn't distressed, I on the other hand was on the phone to NHS direct, with her stripped down and across my lap. A tiny amount of piriton I happened to have in the bathroom cabinet and 15 minutes later she was as if nothing had happened.
For whatever reason, wrongly or rightly I'd thought at that time with the iPad to hand on the phone to take a picture of the reaction she was having and after. (Not a picture I'd like to share on here, I'm sure you understand why).
The lovely NHS Direct lady, referred us for an emergency appointment with the GP, baby under 1 arm, iPad in the other, she looked at the pictures and put the wheels in motion for a prescription formula specifically for babies with dietary requirements. Aptamil Milupa Pepti 1. She had to liaise with my Health Visitor to back up my claim that I'd been to her for advice, as apparently some mothers have been known to make up such symptoms in an effort to get free formula on prescription. I know. really. Wow.
With appointments soon after scheduled with a peadeatric dietician at the local hospital so began our dairy free journey. Perhaps I was being over sensitive at the start but I did feel it was a little battle prior to her physical reaction to push for a referral for investigation, had that not have happened when it did I could have been typing this from a Sit In Protest in the doctors surgery, we've had great advice and support from the NHS to get us to where we are today, so please don't feel I'm being anti NHS.
Due to appointment times as the NHS waiting time was almost 6months we took her to a private consultant Dr. Cremonesini, an expert in this field for a skin prick test just after her 1st birthday to determine if there were any other allergies she may have. Now at 18 months she can handle a few smarties, a bit of cheese, egg, full fat milk if it's in a cooked form and a little butter. I didn't think we'd get to this point so soon.
For a time, where her diet had to be very controlled, close friends knew she couldn't have certain things but kids parties were like a minefield of cakes, wotsits and bread sticks.
“Birthday cake?, not for this one thank you” Yep. I was that fun police mum. I got called mean for not letting her have a fist full of cheesey savouries when she was 9 months old. But letting her have just a little something could put back 2 weeks of progress, and tummy ache isn't nice, especially if you're a 9 month old that doesn't understand what's happening. It's just not worth it. I'd rather be that mean fun police mum.
We're very fortunate that today we have such a huge range of dairy alternative products, the textures, and versatility of dairy products but without the dairy. Packaging is clearly labelled and 'free from' ranges becoming a thing of the norm.
A year down the line, it's easy for me to say but try to take a little time and pre plan meals and freeze them if need be, your child can still have a varied interesting diet without dairy.
A few points that might be helpful….
- Pure Spread, great for cooking with, for toast, sandwiches dairy free butter,
- Look up Paelo recipes for dairy free inspiration finger foods, side dishes and snacks,
- Going out or travelling? For convenience Plum offer the widest range (that I found) of dairy free pouches for 6months +,
- Some fruits we were advised to avoid until she was 1+ as some berries can be allergy triggers i.e Strawberries etc,
- Olives (halved or quartered if large) are a great way to introduce flavour and make a good fruit snack alternative,
- Use formula milk or soya milk for cooking white sauces, rice pudding etc,
- Blend a mixture of fruits together using bananas as a thickening agent to make thick 'smoothies' to spoon feed as a yoghurt alternative,
- Allergy UK have a help line you can call mid weekly shop tell them the item you're unsure of and they can instantly give you a yes or no answer as to if it's suitable call 01322 619898,
- Visit Allergy UK for advice, wristbands and printable language translation cards of phrases to use whilst on holiday etc . Phrases such as “my child is allergic to dairy, please advise if this is suitable”, “my child is having an allergic reaction” “I need anti histamine” etc.
I took these to France, I didn't often need to use them, but not being fluent it was reassuring to know I could be clear if I needed help. Obviously you could use apps for just this, but having them printed in my bag made me feel more relaxed.
At whichever point of your or your child's allergy / intolerance journey you are, I hope you're receiving the advice and support you need. Any recipes or tips you'd like to share? Get in touch or comment below.