Monday, 7 May 2012

Weaning the Dairy Free Baby - The Battle of Baby's Brekkie

One of Baby's favourite bowls!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it? I'm constantly learning just how much of a wonderful thing it is, as I continue my journey of weaning Baby. When I first set out on this journey, I naively assumed many things and certainly had no idea of how much a battle it might prove to be. 

Getting Geared Up
Baby being our first (and, at the rate we're going, potentially our only) The Hub and I were eager to get geared up properly for weaning. The Hub's idea of getting geared up was choosing a high chair! 

Gleefully, one  morning, he announced that whilst I'd been sleeping (I slept a LOT when I was pregnant) he'd bought a Baby Bloom on ebay, for half the price! Bargainous! We also bought the bowls, spoons etc. of course, as every parent does. However, dairy being my main concern, we also wanted to start by getting the right advice, especially as Baby was still unable to tolerate dairy. So I asked the GP to refer us to a dietitian, which (much to my relief, because for some people it's a real battle) he duly did. 
The Hub chose the high chair
Preparing for Action
In the meantime, not sure how long it would take to see the dietitian, and wanting to get Baby off to a good start (not being fussy, but prepared to eat a good range of fruit and veg) I eagerly devoured a few (short) books as well as articles in parenting magazines and online. 

Just for good measure, I consulted Gina Ford's book on weaning, as I was still prepared to give her a go, despite our 'failed' attempts to raise a 'contented baby' the Gina Ford way (she is contented - just not in the approved Gina Ford way).  I also dutifully attended a weaning session at a local Mum's and Baby's group, which was led by our Health Visitor. 

At this stage, I just thought that if we put the 'right' stuff in front of Baby, she would eat it - and would continue to eat it quite happily throughout the rest of her life. Looking back now, I scoff at my naivety - there were quite a few things I was yet to learn... the hard way!

I definitely should have taken more notice, during the Health Visitor-led discussion on weaning, when one Mum volunteered her top tip re. fussy eating. She said of her children, that if they didn't eat something, she left it on the table. When next they complained of  hunger, she would sit them back at the table and place in front of them the meal they'd previously refused.

I did wonder (at the time) at what tender age this treatment began. I also wondered whether the youngest, was accustomed to seeing her two elder siblings treated this way and therefore just 'towed the line'. At the time, I thought this approach sounded rather draconian, but it's a tactic that I've been considering myself recently, particularly this morning, after yet another breakfast battle.

For some reason, our battles over food, at the moment, all involve breakfast. Lunch is pretty well set and so is dinner, although we've had our battles over these too. Breakfast, as it's often considered the most important meal of the day, I try to get in before we go anywhere. The operative word here, of course, is 'try'.

She could, I suppose, be refusing breakfast because she's still quite full from the night before, or because she has a monumental number two clogging up the system which needs to be cleared. Sometimes, when she has been refusing food, this has proven to be the case. With food allergic children, constipation is always a possibility (it could be signs of a reaction to something else). Other times, refusing breakfast has been a sign that she's a bit off colour, however, more recently, it just seems that one determined young lady seems set on thwarting me.

Let's talk Tactics
I have tried various tactics, some of which have worked for a short time, others only once, before losing their charm. These have included:
Baby loves hearts!
  • Using cute cutlery/plates/bowls with her favourite characters on them (eg. Gruffalo).
  • Funny faces - arranging food into faces.
  • Saying things like: 'I bet (insert name of fave person/tv character) loves eating this!
  • Cutting food into fancy shapes (eg. hearts, stars etc.) with food cutters. 
  • Leading by example - eating the food that I'd like her to eat.
  • 'Pinching' her food - this works if she like it and is just being a little bit slow.
  • Letting her 'pinch' our food - this works, if The Hub's eating Bratwurst.
  • Refusing anything else she asks for, until she's eaten properly eg. biscuits, cake, chocolate, boob  etc.
  • Going without (taking snacks instead). However, she rather likes this approach and ends up  grazing through all the snacks in my bag (eating the kinds of things that just leave you wanting more and refusing the 'healthy options').
  • Veiled threats - 'When you've had breakfast, you'll be able to go out,' ie, 'If you don't eat breakfast we won't be going anywhere!'
  • Choice - asking her to decide from a range. However, even when she chooses, she may steadfastly refuse the rest after only one mouthful - no matter how many times the food is placed back in front of her!
  • I've also tried variety - being Dairy free, does not mean you have a completely restricted diet (unless you have other foods to which you are also allergic). 
However, all to no avail! Although, to be fair, it's not that she hasn't been eating anything - it's just that she hasn't been eating as much of anything as she used to, and not enough to keep her going through the morning. Which gives the impression that I'm not quite hitting the target (as far as she's concerned) but it's not for want of trying, as we have experimented with a fair variety of foods.

So what ammunition have I been using?

To begin with:
  • Baby formula and baby rice/cereal - her first breakfast. This worked well until Hipp stopped manufacturing her favourite (dairy free) blend and then she went off Nutramigen altogether.
  • Fruit breakfast with granola (made by Plum, but it looks like it's no longer available).  We alternated between two flavours, however, it was always a bit touch and go, as to whether she'd eat them. 
  • Fruit purées of various kinds.

  • Eggy bread. I cut it into tiny squares, so she could chew them. At this stage (having no other milk than Nutramigen, or breast milk) I could hardly offer her cereal, as the Health Visitor's Assistant had insisted we should. However, I reasoned that bread was made with a cereal and egg was a good source of protein and iron, and contained some Vitamin D,* so it wouldn't be too bad for her. Also, in this form the egg wouldn't be too dry, and yet, would be properly cooked. This worked quite well for a while... then she went off eggy bread.

Since then we've tried:
Scrambled egg & toast
  • Fried egg on toast - using olive oil. She couldn't manage to eat all of it, so I concentrated on getting her to eat the yolk - that's the bit with all the iron and Vitamin D.
  • Scrambled egg on toast - using Pure Dairy Free Margarine
  • Poached egg on toast - mainly when she's had a tummy upset and can't take anything oily. We use Delia's method, as it's pretty fool proof, but you do need a timer!
  • Cereal and milk - mixture of Cheerios and Rice Krispies with Alpro Junior Plus 1 (not keen on the sugar, but...)
  • Fish Finger (Youngs Free From, but Sainsbury's also do a free from fish finger) and a Hash Brown (Mc Cains)
  • Toast with honey/jam
  • Porridge made with Alpro Junior Plus 1
  • Pancakes (made with coconut milk) - only the once to be honest (with some mixture left from Shrove Tuesday - see previous blog on pancakes). Despite a smiley face made of banana and chocolate buttons (which I thought would be a winner) pancake went down like a lead balloon (although she ate the chocolate drops)! So that idea was quickly abandoned.

What now?
Well I'm not completely stumped! I have a few more breakfast ideas up my sleeve.
Further Weapons in my Arsenal:
  • Waffles - I've steered clear of these, so far. Partly because making them is a bit involved (no suitable ready mix available that I know of) and partly because of the washing up! Cleaning waffle iron a bit of a faff too!
  • Scrambled eggs with additions - I could add smoked salmon or bacon chunks but I'm a bit worried about salt content of these.
  • Healthy Muffins - steered clear of these so far as they're a bit too much like cake (in my opinion) and there's a bit of extra effort and washing up involved.
  • The Hub's Breakfast - he doesn't always have breakfast, but at the weekend, he sometimes treats himself to sausages. Baby loves Daddy's Bratwurst!! I have to admit, there's nothing like the smell of cooking sausages to get those gastric juices working! However, I'm not sure that she should have those every day of the week!!
Hmm! Maybe I've hit the nail on the head here - with The Hub's breakfast. I have been considering recently whether, as parents, we have been setting her the best example - Hub rushing off to work, each morning, without his breakfast; me eating mine by the laptop, as I catch up on the latest...

Maybe, we should try and get back to sitting round the breakfast table together, but you should see our table - covered in my never-ending washing-to-be-sorted pile!! Speaking of which...Ho! Hum! Back to the grindstone...

Meanwhile, if you happen to think of any other ideas, maybe you could pass them our way??

*Update! Eggs have recently been found to contain twice as much Vitamin D as was previously thought! Meaning they contain two thirds Vitamin D daily requirements, so they make a really great breakfast!!

Related Post

Weaning the Dairy Free Baby - First Steps!

Further Reading:

Neocate Weaning Guide
Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook
Feeding Tips for Toddlers: from One Year (Nutramigen)


  1. My little dairy free baby (15 months old) likes scrambled eggs made with almond milk and a tiny bit of chopped onion and vegetable oil. He also likes pancakes made from king arthur's allergen friendly pancake/waffle mix. ( Actually, tonight, after a few bites of pork and mushrooms and rice, he refused any more food until I offered him left-over pancakes and he ate three of them with syrup (2.5 inch diameter each). He used to eat bananas nearly every morning for months and months and seems to be on strike. It is blueberry season, and he has been liking those and strawberries and he still likes oranges and kiwis. Toast is hit and miss. He likes cinnamon chex and ate a half a cup of that this morning (skipped the bananas even at a second "brunch" offering). I'd say bananas are out of vogue for good! He drinks almond milk when at daycare, but won't when I'm home (I'm still breastfeeding too). And actually, I have nearly quit my job... reduced it to one seven hour day, so will be beginning an effort to wean (which is how I happened upon your blog when I googled "wean dairy free baby". Good luck with picky eating! Any idea when/if it ends???

    1. Oh Katie! I only wish I knew! I think that every baby is different! I keep offering Baby the foods she used to like (from time to time) in the hope that she will pick them up again, Occasionally she will, but more usually not! Right now, she just eats dry cereal, and has some (fortified) soya milk in a cup with a straw (can be messy, but she loves the straw). My mother has suggested that I just pack a few things she can eat and get on with the day anyway - offering her these nibbles if she says she's hungry. I am reluctant to do this, but some days we just have to get out, for a specific time, so I do. I still think it would help if The Hub would eat breakfast too!! If I find any answers to it all, I'll keep you posted! Best Wishes!