Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Labelling Baby

We go out with Baby several times in the week. 

Baby having a problem with milk, doesn't stop us going out and mixing socially, but it does mean we need to go prepared. I tend to take a small selection of suitable snacks, depending on where we are going and the length of time we are going to be out. I may stick a label on her, to warn people, but if it is just a small group, which we attend regularly and I am there too, I probably won't bother. If it's a new situation, with people we don't know, especially where there's food involved, then I definitely will!

Baby's label

Not everybody might like it, but I had the idea a while back, when Baby was first being weaned. It struck me that leaving her with others, had the potential to be tricky if she didn't have the ability to comprehend her situation and communicate with others. 

The problem particularly came home to me, one day, when she reached the age of one and became old enough to be left in Sunday School - where they thoughtfully provide a drink and a biscuit. Even though, the group has a proper registration system, which includes allergies, even though I had just handed over the biscuit to the helper and told her about Baby's intolerance, it happened! The leader, distracted at the point of giving out biscuits, forgot and offered her the wrong ones!

Fortunately, as Baby was still new in the group, and protested when I tried to leave, I was there. Now, although she wouldn't have gone into anaphylactic shock, or anything life threatening like that, there would have been unpleasant consequences for Baby, if she had taken the biscuit.

Casting around for a solution, at the time, I found websites which sold t-shirts and wristbands. I even designed her a little T-shirt. However who wants to keep wearing the same old T-shirt all the time, and, even if the wristband stayed on, would anyone actually notice and read it? 

Remembering my previous role, in school, I recalled that when children bumped their heads we put a sticker on them, so that even if we missed speaking to their parents about it, at the end of the school day, their parents could see it and would be able to keep an extra eye on them. 'Ah ha!' I thought, 'that's what we'll do with Baby!'

So The Hub and I found a free cow picture online and tried to word the sticker carefully, so that people would stop and think! Originally, we were told that 'Baby' was cow's milk protein intolerant. Thinking that, strictly speaking, she was not allergic, but rather intolerant, we wrote 'Dairy Allergy' on the sticker, as it was somewhat less of a mouthful than 'Cow's Milk Intolerant,' easier to read (in a hurry) and perhaps more easily not so much understood, but recognised as a problem. It turns out we were right - she has an Non Ige Milk Allergy. And the great thing about the sticker? It works!

The good thing is, Baby likes wearing her 'cow sticker'. People don't always see it, but I draw their attention to it, just to make sure. It has opened up conversation with people, thus raising awareness - her Tuesday group, started providing dairy free treats at the end of term, without me even having to say a word. And the best thing about the sticker situation is that (apart from the ink and the labels) like many of the other so-called 'best things in life,' they are free!

NB Please note. This label is all our own work (apart from the image). I am more than happy for people to copy this idea, but would ask that you use it just for personal use and not for profit.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Challenging Baby - the adventure continues??

Whoever, first compared life to a roller-coaster was quite right, weren't they? Give that person a gold star, I say! After all my nervous excitement, the other day, it seems like we're back to Numero Uno, Square One!

Not daring to trust that Baby had truly passed Stage One - the biscuit-containing-milk-as-an-ingredient challenge, I decided to try Baby out with the biscuit that's always been her stumbling block before. Why? I don't know. I just had an inkling that until she conquered this one, she wouldn't be ready. Perhaps one of the tastiest biscuits EVER invented, it's the good old Malted Milk, or 'Cow Biscuit,' as it's otherwise known.

Instead of opting for the traditional shape, though, I bought a packet containing several small bags, as, this way, if the challenge failed, I hadn't wasted a whole pack of biscuits and could keep the rest of the sealed bags for next time.

You can get them in little bags, these days!

I discovered, on opening the first pack, that there six of these inside:

They look fun, huh?

Six seemed a bit excessive for a first go, so we gave Baby three - which we judged to be about the same as one normal Malted Milk biscuit. In hindsight, maybe one would have been better, for a first go! I would have loved to have eaten the other three, but, being gluten free now, I couldn't, so The Hub had the rest. She, (quite predictably) loved them and was most upset with Daddy for eating the other half of her pack!

Once she'd eaten them, all we could do was sit and wait, to see what happened next. Baby seemed fine, so we tried again the next day. That night she didn't sleep that well. But Baby's often disturbed in her sleep and had a cold, which was more likely to make her restless, so I pushed that to one side. She passed wind, quite a bit this morning (and quite loudly, too), but I put that to one side. After breakfast she complained of tummy ache, but she was overdue a poo, so I put that to one side too.

When she did her poo, though, (avert your eyes if this is too much information for you) it was quite soft, not hard (as it would be if she was constipated) and it was more yellowy than normal. It was the familiar mustardy yellow colour caused by milk. It stank to high heaven too. As I cleared it away, I could see that her skin was beginning to look irritated. That's when I knew that the game was up!!

When Baby has a nappy like this, it's important to clean off all traces of poo really thoroughly, preferably with cotton wool and water. Any poo left on the skin will continue to irritate, as it contains acid. In fact the best thing to do, is really to dunk Baby in the bath. Usually, this leaves the skin nice and clear. Once the skin is clean, it needs a barrier to protect it - in the event of any further episodes. Vaseline is undoubtedly the best. A thick layer of that really does the trick.

I'm so glad I didn't go straight to Stage Two. She obviously wasn't ready, yet. It would have probably have left her very discomforted. It leaves me wondering though - whether we need a list of biscuits, ranking them in order of those least likely to affect one to those most likely. That way we could work our way up the scale, until Baby's ready for the next stage. If you know of one, do let me know, won't you??

So, we're back to the drawing board again - at least for now, anyway. Although, not quite! She's never got this far with a Malted Milk before, so she's improving - albeit maddeningly slowly!!

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Challenging Baby!

Well, there's no doubt that 'Baby' has become more challenging recently. Three full-length toddler tantrums thrown today. However, this post's not so much about challenging behaviour as about Baby's response to cow's milk protein.

Diagnosed as cow's milk protein intolerant (we've since found out that this is an out-dated term - she is allergic to cow's milk) at the grand age of one month, we were assured by the pediatrician we saw at the time, that most children grow out of it by the age of two. That milestone passed, the dietitian shrugged and revised the age to four. 

Well, we've not reached that stage yet, but, now that we've moved, I've requested a referral to a specialist, to which surprisingly, the Doctor very swiftly agreed. No sooner had I made the request, than she was scribbling madly on her pad and informing me that the letter would be in the post. 

All prepared for the third degree, and what-not, I was quite taken aback. I mean I was expecting to have to push a little bit to persuade someone or another, but before I knew it, we were back outside the door. And now, we have the letter! 

Well, sort of. The letter informs us that we have a telephone appointment to assess our needs. 'Hmm! Right! Well,' I thought, 'what on earth will that entail??'

So, in order to prepare myself, I've decided to carry out a kind of audit - height, weight and a milk challenge!

Challenges are something that the Dietitian has asked us to do some time prior to each appointment. We can carry them out at home, because Baby's allergy is Non-Ige and so her condition is not life threatening. Therefore if the milk doesn't agree with her, it will make her temporarily uncomfortable, until it has passed out of her system. In the early days, this meant pretty much immediate excruciating tummy pain, much writhing and wailing, followed by watery, explosive diarrhea and a very sore bum (the soreness comes from acid, produced by the stomach) - all within the hour. It's not something we do lightly - no one wants to see their child in pain. It's only on the advice of our medical professionals.*

It's been quite a while since I've properly challenged Baby. This is because we've had some form of accidental challenge (such a another child 'kindly' giving her a biscuit), around about the time a real challenge was due. This has resulted in bad nappies, wakeful nights, tummy aches, very sore botty etc. The symptoms do seem to have got lessened a bit, over time, in that they take longer to appear, and have been a bit less severe, but, as you need to wait four months for the stomach to properly heal, before trying again, progress has been frustratingly slow!

Usually, a challenge might involve Baby eating a 'normal' biscuit. In the past, I've always gone for Malted Milk - mainly because I assume that they must be quite milky, and I've wanted a definite yes or no! The idea is, that if she's okay with it, we try again - at the same time the next day. And then again, for four days in a row. After that, we would go to the next stage...

So far, we've never gone beyond the first biscuit. Tummy pains, combined with a wakeful night and a 'dodgy' nappy next day have shown that things have improved , but (so far) have not resolved.

However, now we're trying again - starting with Jaffa Cake.  

Spot the difference!

There's various reasons for this choice of biscuit:

1. Grandma slipped her one, the other month, thinking they were okay. Actually, my Mum had seen me give Baby one of my gluten free Kelkin jaffa cakes, (which also happen to be dairy free) but she hadn't realised that they were different. Funnily enough, Baby seemed okay with it, I think. So I've been looking for an opportunity to repeat the experience, as a proper challenge.

2. If Baby loves the jaffa cake, but it disagrees with her, we have our own equivalent - so it's not like giving her something and then taking it away from her again. This is quite important at the moment, as, with growing awareness of the World around her, she's feeling the fact that she's different to others, more and more.

3. It's one of Daddy's favourite nibbles, so if she can't have the rest, then the packet won't go completely to waste!!

4. This time, I'm seeing the challenge as an opportunity to add one more thing to the list of things she can eat, rather than see if she's 'better'.

I have to admit I'm feeling kind of anxious about this. The thing is, it seems to be working!!  She's had four whole days of jaffa cakes!! There have been a few tummy pains, in places, but 'Baby' often has tummy pain of some kind. She often says her tummy hurts when she's hungry, or constipated (she doesn't like eating fruit and veg - it's an ongoing battle). I don't think these particular 'pains' have been of the intolerant kind. She's also had some sore patches, but she can get these from having too much fruit juices. I've been slapping on the Vaseline, though, just to make sure.

As exciting as all this is, though, success at this stage means going on to the next stage. That worries me because after all this excitement, it could mean that at some stage we'll come to a stop. I don't want to put Baby through the pain that this could cause. If it doesn't work, there's nothing I can do about it, I just have to wait for the symptoms to pass. BUT if it does, and she's 'better'... Of course I want her to be well (so I won't have to worry about her eating something by mistake) but now I'm beginning to wonder: what if I, having been dairy free for so long, have lost my ability to digest lactose?? I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

* Food challenges should only be carried out under medical advice/supervision. Your doctor/dietitian is the best person to advise you about your particular situation.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

In search of a pizza dairy/gluten free perfection?

I've been hearing a lot about Pizza recently. Mostly gluten free. That's fine, it's a start - I need gluten free, but it's not much good to me, unless it's dairy free as well, is it?? So, I've been on a bit of a quest and I think I've found a few answers, that may be you could try too - if you're after pizza that is!!

A pizza heaven??
So the first thing is, that if you're after Pizza and you're gluten free, it seems to me that you're pretty well catered for, right now. There's no need to make your own ( although of course you're perfectly free to do so) when you can buy a ready made pizza in the frozen section at Sainsbury's, or order one from Domino's (as reviewed by Kevin at Gluten Free by the Sea), Prezzo, Pizza Hut or even Ask, I believe!! It seems that Pizza restaurants have really got the bit between their teeth and are practically falling over themselves in the race to reach gluten free customers.

Others have chosen to try them out. Emma from Love Lactose Free Life has tried Pizza Hut and Grace Cheetham has tried Domino's. They elected to choose naturally dairy free toppings, I've not tried them, though. I mean I could try a gluten free pizza without cheese, if I wanted, but... it's just not pizza, then, is it?? 

Now those of you who are not gluten free but are dairy free and okay with soya, you can also get a ready made pizza. Mama Cucina do one, as reviewed by the Veggie's blog here. It is available from the chiller cabinet in some Holland and Barrett's and also Goodness Direct.

However, that is no good for me either. SO, I have been forced to make my own!!

I've tried a few bases, one of which came from a packet mix. The packet mix was a disaster, so I won't even go there! Of the ready made bases that I've tried, Sainsbury's and Tesco's own Free From bases have been the winners for me, but I've yet to try one by Venice Bakery. I've heard it is delicious! Emma reviewed it here.

The Sainsbury's base
The Sainsbury's base is not perfect by any means. It's a bit dry and brittle, which means it can crack, quite easily. However, once the toppings are on, you don't really notice that too much!

The Tesco's base I like, because you get two small ones in a packet together. I think they're slightly less dry, than Sainsbury's and they're the perfect size for one - for lunch, anyway.

Seeds of Change Stir-through sauce
As for the next stage - the tomatoey sauce base, most people would probably opt for a tomato puree, right? However, me being me, I can't eat stuff in can - my face comes out all blotchy, so I need stuff in a jar. 

I've tried two - Biona's tomato puree (in a jar) is really nice, but my favourite is Seeds of Change Tomato and Olive Stir-Through Sauce. Not technically gluten free, they are both dairy free and seem to be free from gluten containing ingredients.

Adding the puree! 'Baby' likes this bit!
Following the tomatoey base, the next level is entirely up to you! My favourite combination is ham and mushroom, as shown here!

This one was produced without Baby's help. Can you tell?

The really tricky bit about pizza, though (as far as I have been concerned) is the last layer- the cheesey bit, but this I now think I have cracked!!

As I browsed my local health food shop I happened upon a new cheese, which I have mentioned before - it's called Mozzarisella. It is fairly tricky to get hold of, although you can order it from their website. However, it's new to the UK market, so things are on the up!!

Nicely melted!
For me, it worked really well on pizza, especially if the pizza was cooked at 200 degrees C, for 10 minutes. I thought it melted just enough.

If you can't get hold of Mozzarisella, and, like me, you can't have dairy free cheese that is made with soya, there are a few other options. One is another new cheese (which I've yet to try) by Violife (Veganic) reviewed here, by Veganoo. This is also pretty hard to get hold of, right now, so your best option would be dairy and soya free melting Cheezly. This is sold in some Holland and Barrett stores and also in some health food stores. By itself, it's not particularly cheesy, but grated and melted, on top of a pizza, I think it tastes pretty good!!

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