Wednesday, 20 March 2013

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.


  1. Love reading this, this morning. Thank you. I too need to do a challenge, with my 3.5yr old and 17mth old. Dreading it, but knows it must be done. Soya challenged failed already. Knowing I'm not the only one dreading it.

  2. I have to say, I wish there were another way! I wish someone would invent a blood test for food intolerance, or similar! I do feel for you though, having two to challenge. Hope the next one goes well, or at least better, for you. xx