Editor’s Note: Always seek the advice of your child’s pediatrician with any questions you may have regarding your child’s health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
Imagine taking your sick infant to the pediatrician and concludes with, “We need to test your son’s bowel movement to see if he is allergic to dairy.” I felt confused and overwhelmed when I heard these words; it was like my brain couldn’t fully process them. Apparently, my son’s severe cradle cap and overall dry skin were things his pediatrician had seen before.
It’s scary how easy it can be for moms to blame ourselves when our children receive any diagnosis, but I couldn’t stop myself. After all, I thought it had to be my fault because I decided to stop breastfeeding him after a couple of months (between sleep deprivation and the constant race to stave off mastitis, I couldn’t take it anymore). That same frustration led me to develop guilt because my son’s digestive system had been fine before I introduced formula to him.
The internal blame game continued on until my son’s father revealed that he not only suffered from eczema as a child but was also diagnosed with a lactose intolerance later on. As much as I wanted to be upset that this information wasn’t revealed during our son’s first newborn appointment, I knew I had to shift the focus to our son. After learning we needed to switch to a hypoallergenic formula, we decided to buy it in bulk like we do with his diapers and wipes. However, we didn’t know how expensive hypoallergenic formula can be. Fortunately, we are able to receive coupons and samples from our son’s pediatrician. While it may differ based on your location, you can check with your child’s pediatrician to see if they have resources available to help offset formula costs.
Now that my son is almost 1, I’ve finally narrowed down a few ways that help me manage his dairy allergy.
Use Hypoallergenic Formula
The great thing about hypoallergenic formula is that it is specifically designed for infants who have a dairy protein allergy. It is formulated with the absence of dairy but still provides all of the nutrients that an infant needs. I chose to go with Similac Alimentum but have found that Enfamil Nutramigen works just as well.
Introduce Veggies and Fruits
Per my son’s pediatrician’s advice, I slowly introduced veggies and fruits to his diet. The reason for this is because I was not sure if he would have or develop other food allergies. Once I found that he didn’t seem to have any adverse reactions to baby food, I began giving him cooked vegetables that would be easy for him to digest (i.e. bell peppers, carrots, etc.). This is how I discovered he loves sweet potatoes, so I try to make sure he eats them throughout the week.
Avoid Other Dairy Products
This is a little tricky because some family members and daycare staff members forget about his allergy. I often receive yogurt snacks or foods that contained cheese or milk in them. As grateful as I am, I have to decline these items because my son’s system simply can’t handle it. At the same time, I have to remain aware of the ingredients found in treats and meals as well.
Keep a Food Journal and Pay Attention to His Bowel Movements
One of the ways I remain aware is by keeping a food journal that helps me see how his digestive system is doing. I can easily tell if he’s constipated or has diarrhea now and am able to pinpoint the culprit. It seems like more “work,” but it really helps me stay on top of things so he is not experiencing tummy troubles.
The great news is that my son is absolutely thriving. If he could, he would probably tell me that he barely notices his dairy protein allergy. He is a bustling toddler who loves to eat what he is able to and is actually starting to drink formula less these days.
Learning how to manage a young infant or child’s allergy can bring up a lot of emotions. We also tend to blame ourselves or the child’s other parent for their allergies, but the best thing to remember is that it is not our fault if our children have allergies. All we can do is take the necessary steps to avoid our children’s allergen triggers.