Thursday, 31 January 2013

Dolly can't have milk...

'Dolly can't have milk,' Baby told Daddy, solemnly, this morning, as she climbed into the 'Big Bed.'

'Oh!' I said brightly, when I was informed, 'well, that's alright, she can have soya milk like you, then, can't she?'

Baby didn't respond quite as I expected - which was to agree happily. That is, she did agree but didn't look too happy about it, as she continued to discuss her dolly's options. It's given me pause for thought.

'Baby Ananbelle'
Like many little girls, Baby is the proud owner of several dollies. Usually, she just does all the normal dolly things you would expect - reenacting all the things that I have done with her - feeding, bathing, nappy changing etc. However, her favourite, Annabelle, has also been a vehicle through which she has expressed her feelings. 

Once or twice, when I have got really cross, she has picked up her dolly and cuddled her extra tenderly, as if to say, 'See Mummy, I need a cuddle too!' Or when I have refused her a treat (like chocolate) I have found her very obviously giving her doll the thing she has been refused, as if she's underlining her desire for that very thing.

Yesterday and over the weekend she has been among close relatives who have been eating things that she can't have - because they're made with milk. She's been very good about it, including when, in a pub on Sunday her Grandma ate a chocolate brownie with ice cream; sharing it with her cousin and Grandad. Grandma often shares a dessert with Grandad, when out for a meal - it makes her feel like she's not indulging too much, if it's shared.

Both Baby and her cousin had been served the same dessert, which looked rather fun - jelly topped with marshmallows, which resembled a bubbly froth. But Baby has previous experience of jelly. She doesn't like it. The marshmallows interested her for a bit... but interest waned about the same time as her cousin stopped eating hers and started helping herself to a bit of Grandma's pudding.

Baby's dessert
Chocolate, cake and ice cream (probably in that order) are three of Baby's favourite things, yet she made not a murmur as they ate it in front of her, although she did go rather quiet and stared intently at them, all the while. I felt like I was watching her die a thousand deaths. Fortunately, the manager of the restaurant saved the day, by unexpectedly offering the girls some candyfloss, which he made then and there, right in front of them!! We've never had THAT in a pub before!!

The magic of candyfloss manufacture!
The Hub and I don't usually do desserts and definitely not those that Baby can't eat - ever since a disastrous occasion when Baby was a bit younger. When others have food or treats that she can't have (like at parties or toddler groups) I've usually thought ahead and compensated in some way, with an attractive dairy free alternative. So I suppose we have shielded her, in a way, from the fact that she is different to others. 

THAT day all I had was a packet of Kelkin gluten and dairy free jaffa cakes - usually an attractive proposition, but faced with chocolate brownie and ice cream... 

As she gets older, it's becoming more and more apparent to Baby, that others are able to eat things that she can't but would rather like to eat - they look so scrummy. And usually I am the one who's apparently denying her, by saying that she can't, because it contains milk. I don't know if she feels it as badly as I think she does, but I have noticed her behaviour worsening, not actually on but rather after the occasion. 

Temper tantrums are, of course, normal in toddlers, but she has kicked off BIG time recently and normally after we have spent time with the rellies. I thought that it was because she was missing the extra attention, but now I am wondering if it's a knock-back following the food issue - especially as she saw Grandma yesterday and we had the conversation about dolly, this morning, AS WELL AS the tantrums today.

Yesterday, she ate her sandwiches quite happily, sat next to Grandma, as Grandma tucked into hers, but there was a conversation at some point about whether there was milk in Grandma's sandwich. Later on, there was the same conversation about some cake. It's almost as if the conversation with Grandma is to verify what Mummy has been saying to her about food - and things are clicking into place.

The time before it was another cousin's birthday and there was an enormous cream cake at stake - from Patisserie Valerie, no more, no less! There was an alternative for her, but... everyone else (except me, but I don't count) had the other... That evening, after we got home home she was horrendous!!!

So now I'm left wondering what to do for the best. Do I ask the rellies to politely refrain from eating this stuff in front of her? Do I continue to try to laden myself with food for every eventuality? How do I address the hurt and confusion that I think she's feeling? I've deliberately tried to be calm and matter of fact and not go into it too much (sort of never complain, never explain, although we have had a basic discussion about how the milk makes her tummy sore) up to now. And of course, I often have to go without food, for some reason or another, myself.

I would really like to hear back from people who have been through similar issues with their little ones, or who have had allergies or intolerances as a child and experienced similar situations. It would really help, to talk this one through. As although I developed some of my allergies as a child, having to forgo fresh fruit, that I'm not too bothered about, is hardly the same thing as being forced to forgo chocolate cake, now, is it??

Found this article which help help those experiencing the same kind of difficulties, with their children.


  1. Thats the very issue I will be going through very soon. At our little ones first birthday everybody had dairy free whether they knew it or not. As i had arranged the party and catered for it myself this wasnt a problem. It was alo helped by friend and relatives who are very well informed and up for the challenge of bringing dairy free foods along with them. However, we were invited to the chilrens Christmas party in the village and little one being 17 months was getting more curious to investigate other food rather than that on his plate. Hubby and I had a quick discussion (not quite a disagreement) on how to deal with the party food. Little one ended up sitting at the end of the table with the safe foods (not a great selection) and being told he couldn't have the other childrens food because it wasn't his. i flt aweful and I know I'm going to have to be better prepared for the mental challenges in the future. There are only so many times you can distract them with a safe alternative before they want a better explanation. I have noticed more support sites (Free From Foods Matter being one) tackling the psychological impact of food allergy and intolerance. I must read up on it more!

    1. I must admit, my usual way of dealing with parties is to pack a box full of Baby's favourite dairy free party food and take that along. Up 'til now, that's kept her happy. If I can, I ask the host what's being served and try to duplicate it as much as possible, or even trump it of I can, so that Baby doesn't feel like she's missing out!

      Thanks for mentioning the Foods Matter article, I'll have to see if I can find it.

  2. Bless her. My little one is similar. He is four now and understands what he can and can't have and is actually very cautious to the point of fussy. He actually uses 'it might give me the tummy aches, when he just doesn't want to eat'. I guess we have given him a cast iron excuse! Who knows, maybe a lot of foods do give him 'the tummy aches'. So he has a limited diet (fun-wise) and he knows he has 'special food' and is very proud of the fact. He calls his soya milk 'soil milk' - but everyone knows what he means. He doesn't seem to sad when other kids at parties are diving into the cakes and biscuits and he sits their with his own stuff.

    But it wasn't always that way. When he was a baby he ate everything, then we realised what made him ill and had to cut a lot of foods out - this happened to by around the time he turned two. Like a two year old needs more excuses to have a tantrum.

    In the summer I used to live in dread of the chimes of the ice cream van. He would yell and yell that he wanted an ice cream. In the end we did find a good dairy free alternative, but it is not available 'out and about' so we have now got to the point where he knows ice lollies are better and he seems to prefer them.

    I guess it must be true, you can't miss what you never had - or in Zac's case are too young to remember that there was a time when he did eat those things.

    I just try to see it as a blessing in disguise -because he will never become addicted to cheeseburgers and pizzas!

    I know there are dairy free alternatives to cheese etc, but they make him heave, which possibly proves the other theory - you don't crave what makes you ill. If anything even looks a bit 'dairy' he is very suspicious.

    So be assured, it is tough now, but there will come a time (I am sure) when she feels special and doesn't even want anything other than 'her' foods.

    Best wishes.

    1. Thanks, Nicola!

      Funny - Baby calls her soya milk 'soil milk' too!

      Thankfully Baby hasn't worked out what ice cream vans are all about - yet!

      Baby has disliked dairy free 'cheese' up 'til now too. However, she has just changed her mind about Amy's kitchen dairy and gluten free macaroni cheese! IN some ways I am pleased - as baked cheese is one of the stages of reintroducing dairy, but then I used to have my mac and cheese all to myself!!

  3. I empathise so much! My nearly 4 year old is allergic to salicylic acid which is in pretty much everything. Day to day is fine and he copes admirably, even at 'events' like parties he's fine so long as there's an alternative for him. But if there's an occasion where the family or a small group of people are all eating the same thing - except him - then he's very morose and solemn.

    We try not to restrict our own diets to match his but I think that's because we all have our own dietary issues. My husband doesn't eat carbs, and my daughter and I have just finished a trial dairy free period (which is how come I'm reading your blog, actually!). Him seeing that we all have to eat different things makes him less conscious that he's different I think.

    As sad and heartbreaking as it is sometimes to watch your child be the different one, it's always better than seeing them in pain which is what I try to remember when I get the sad seeing him cope.

    1. Hey Aletea!

      Thanks for your comments. Your comment reminds me that as much as we struggle, you can always find someone else who has to struggle more!

      Would love to know how you got on with the dairy free trial!

  4. It's such a tricky one and I totally empathise... have been unsure about it myself. Our two-year-old is allergic to a catalogue of stuff, including wheat, eggs, sesame, nuts, so there's an awful lot of stuff he can't eat. Right up until now we haven't really avoided eating 'forbidden' foods in front of him (aside from not having eggs, nuts or sesame in the house to avoid cross contamination) because my feeling is that he needs to be aware that there are foods he must not eat - and the only way for him to understand is to actively experience it.
    Luckily, he has grown up knowing this and so never tries to eat anyone else's food or shows any interest in other people's plates other than a curious 'What Mummy eating?' from time to time. He is also very used to his little NCT friends eating all manner of cakes and sandwiches that he can't have, and seems unfazed.
    BUT (and this is the big but) I do think that if his Nanny and Nonno were to offer his little cousin something that he couldn't have we'd be opening up a minefield. His cousin has yet to be weaned but my sister is adamant that, come the time her little one is eating, whenever Sidney is around she will only - or mostly - provide fully allergy friendly treats for the kids.
    So for us the answer is that, within the family, when other children are involved, we tread very carefully and do our best not to make Sidney feel excluded from anything... but outside of the family he has to know that other children and even his Mummy and Daddy can eat things that he can't.
    Obviously we've a long way to go and who knows if this tactic will work, but it's worth a shot! x

    1. Hiya Alex!

      I LOVE the attitude of your sister!! So understanding!!

      Of course you're right - allergic children DO need to know there's a difference between the food that they and others can eat, at some point, it's knowing where to draw the line, isn't it?

      Up to now, Baby's experience of this has been restricted mainly to people outside the family, so it's interesting to witness her more recent reactions.

      We'll have to compare notes at a later point, and see how we're doing!


  5. Gosh, this rings a bell! My little (not so little) one is 8 now and has always been pretty content with the food he has been able to have - we eat the same as he does when he's about and save the rest until he's in bed (treats that is). But as he's getting older it's getting more difficult for him - I can see on a few occasions he's starting to feel quite left out, when with friends and family and he will say things like, "that chocolate smells nice mum! Do you think I'll be able to eat it one day?" ouch! We have been told that he probably won't grow out of his allergies as he has asthma and eczema too - hopefully they're wrong.
    I also still find an awful lot of people (some family included, I'm sorry to say!) who don't really treat allergies seriously! I have to show them my bag of medicines, epipens etc. to almost have to prove that there is a danger! Also we have found that other kids not washing their hands after eating has been a problem - we've had a few flare ups because of this, one particulary bad with cashew nut ice cream.
    Anyway for now I do stuff my bag with treats he can have and bake furiously before every family occasion : ) Even, when I'm feeling really with it, baking and cooking everything to fit in with Innis and everyone else eating the same or going hungry! : )

  6. Impossible to read as too much going on with the background. What a shame.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the trouble to leave a comment.
      I'm sorry that you found it so difficult to read this post. I have often wondered whether the page was a bit busy, but thought that it would be OK, as I had adjusted the margins, so less of the background was on show, and had elected to keep the background behind the actual text plain.

      As you have voiced your difficulty in reading this page, I thought I would ask for some honest feedback. I have asked other readers what they think about the design, and unless everyone is far too polite to tell me what they really think, most seem quite happy.

      At some stage, I may well change the design, of the background, but as I am paid nothing for writing this blog, I cannot afford to pay someone to design it for me (which is quite expensive)and am therefore restricted to what I can use. I selected this background because it wasn't too pink (although I personally love pink, I didn't want to put off male readers)and seemed in keeping with the 'Baby' part of this blog.

      If you are experiencing difficulty, you may prefer to view this site through your mobile (if you have one through which you are able to browse online). The mobile version couldn't support this background and is consequently much plainer, so you may find it easier to read.

      Hope this helps :)

  7. Hey Sian!

    Baby's voiced that query about having cow's milk, when she's older, too! It is an ouchy!! We were told two years originally, but now that's been revised upwards, so who knows??

    I really don't think anyone who hasn't experienced living with a medically restricted diet can appreciate what it is like. It's a real case of 'Walk a mile in my shoes,' isn't it?


  8. Hi! Firstly, I love your background. Secondly, I feel your pain. My daughter has coeliac disease and is now 5 having been diagnosed just before her third birthday. I have no answers for you...I hate it when she can't have the yummy things her friends do. Luckily my relatives are pretty good and generally don't like eating things in front of her that she can't have for which I am grateful...but the issue isn't ever going to go away. The best we can do is bring them up confident and happy and therefore able to deal with these difficult situations as they grow up. I hope for your sake she grows out of her lo will have coeliac disease forever so all I can do is equip her as best I can to deal with being different. Good luck and stay in touch!

    1. Thank you, Free From Fairy!

      For your encouraging words. It's tough seeing our kids suffer, isn't it? Glad that your rellies are helpful. I think ours mean well, but...

      It's a toughie for your little girl. I have intolerances that I can't see an end of, and the list just seems to keep growing. However, I am pinning my hopes on the idea that one day medical science will advance to the point where these things can be dealt with, and none of us has to live with it for a lifetime.