WRITTEN BY CARLA LAWRENCE (GUEST WRITER)
Carla is here today to share her experience raising her dairy free baby, top tips & the signs to look out for!
We were just one week into the life of parenting when my husband and I glanced at each other from across the bed wondering what we had done to our perfect life. Our beautiful baby girl was what I could only describe as, ‘broken’ and as bad as that sounds, it’s truly the only way I remember her in her first two months on this earth.
“Why won’t she stop crying?”
“Why is she spotty?”
“Why is she so sick?”
Everyone talks to you about the new born bubble and how amazing it is. To me, those first couple of months were a blurry memory of tears, sickness and exhaustion.
Colic and reflux was the initial diagnosis from our health visitor but I knew in my gut it was something more. I literally could not lay this baby down until she had been upright for a good 30 minutes after having her bottle. I remember the sick would reach one end of the living room from the other.
Luckily only the year before I had convinced my husband it would be a better idea to get a wooden floor rather than carpet…
But for as tough as it was, my heart was still very much full. She wasn’t perfect, but she was my perfect, so I continued on and I taught myself what made her, and how to make her, happy and as comfortable as possible.
I used to pace the living room floor, she loved music, so I would turn it right up and walk with her in my arms until she was in a deep enough sleep to be put down. Pram walks were pretty much non-existent as she just screamed the entire journey.
Around the time we had her, three of our other close friends had babies, who were all thriving, and I began to ask myself why I got the short straw with the ‘broken’ one.
I would go to toddler groups and baby classes and bring with me an entire change bag full of muslins and new bibs because she would always be sick two or three times at least. In almost all her photos as a baby, there was a bib covering her beautiful outfits. I was a superhero when it came to spew-catching reflexes.
MY DAIRY FREE BABY
And finally, we had her eight-week review. Everything changed from this point on.
The doctor asked me how I was getting on and she could see the struggle in my eyes. No one wants to admit something is ‘wrong’ with their baby. But as soon as she got me talking, she knew straight away our daughter had a dairy intolerance (or CMPA intolerance/allergy).
The Signs –
- Severe Sickness
- Trapped Wind
- Skin rash – particularly on her face and chest area
- Constipated – sometimes a week with no movements
From then, I joined every Facebook group imaginable and read every Mums Net forum I could on dairy intolerances and allergies in infants. We were given a prescription milk plus a milk thickener to help her tummy digest it better. After a couple of weeks of finding a formula that suited her best, it was as if someone came to our house and collected our ‘broken’ baby, to swap her with a new one.
We still had the odd bad days here and there, but the difference was unbelievable, and it’s such a common problem when I started asking other mums about it.
We were referred to a dietician to help us with the weaning process and we were given a ‘dairy ladder’ to work our way through. I saw many versions of these online, but nothing was quite as simple and straightforward as the one we received. So I’ve recreated it, in case you are interested! Please note you should always seek medical advice if you find yourself in this situation, I am certainly no expert.
At around one year, we then discovered the word ‘atopic’, which is a genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases including skin allergies and asthma. Of course, it wouldn’t be as easy for us as just getting some fancy milk(!)
Back to the doctors we went, where we were given a multitude of steroid creams, ointments, soaps, and shampoos to try and find something that suited her skin.
We also discovered that when she picked up a cough or cold she was completely floored and it would remain in her chest for about three weeks at least, the doctor told us that with the existing conditions she had, it could be likely she has mild asthma. We were then given two inhalers to help with her chest too.
Three years on now, we are at the top of the ladder, thankfully, and she can have dairy without any major issues. If she has had quite a lot of dairy, we still have skin issues, be it scalp problems or rashes on her body. And she can still go for days without a poo!
But other than that, she is practically perfect. And as I now anticipate the arrival of our second baby, I don’t sit with any fear at all.
As mums we are ready and willing to learn whatever we have to do to help our babies and I just think if baby number two is the same, then I’ll be an expert in knowing exactly what he or she needs.
Follow the ladder for a week at each stage, going back to the previous stage if you come across any hurdles. On day one start with a taste and increase as the week goes on. Don’t include any other dairy for the week so you can rule out any other potential reactions.
Early weaning, speak to your health visitor regarding this, but we began at five months old and she thrived when it came to weaning.
The Annabel Karmel book actually discusses a bit about dairy intolerances and I found the recipes really easy to make and adapt with substitutes if need be.
Go with your gut, I was adamant I knew something was upsetting my baby, and as a first-time mum I wish I was more confident with the health visitor and doctor. If you think something is wrong, make it known.
Help your child understand, as a three year old now, we still have to take extra care of her skin when she’s been exposed to a lot of dairy. Her scalp will often get sore and her skin will sometimes come up in rashes. I explain to her that sometimes her body doesn’t like certain things and that’s how it shows it to her. We got this lovely little book from a fellow allergy mum over on Instagram, Matilda has an allergy, which focuses on a nut allergy and it’s a fantastic way of letting her become allergy aware. You can find them on Instagram, @allergystars
Create your own path, you’ll hear things that work for other CMPA mums, just go with what works for you, try not to get too caught up in what others are doing. You’ll get there in your own time. This is also why I don’t recommend any particular books or guides, everyone’s journey is completely different, and you’ll discover your own perfect one.
You got this Mama!
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We hope you enjoyed Carla’s post on raising her dairy free baby, and that it has helped others who might be struggling!