Why did I decide to put my children on a dairy free diet?
My older boy was breastfed until 4 months, he seemed fine apart from a couple of hours of colic each night, which I assumed was just normal for him. He used to have one bottle of formula a night at bedtime but otherwise just had breast milk until 4 months.
When I weaned him he had regular cows milk based formula, I gave him cheese, yoghurt etc. at the appropriate age. He always had wind issues but not consistently until he was around 1 he had a very bad stomach bug and after that he used to be up almost every night with wind pains. He would go to bed at normal time, settle with a bottle of cows milk, and sleep for a few hours, then wake up screaming with a hard tummy. We would try rubbing his tummy clockwise, cycling his legs, just holding him until he managed to pass wind, this all could take up to an hour and happened almost every single night between the ages of one and two and a half. I had mentioned it to my GP and to a consultant he went to for a different issue, I was told he would grow out of it, or that he was playing me being up every night. Needless to say, hearing that when I was sleep deprived and trying to function at work etc., was very upsetting. When he was 21 months old I decided to try an exclusion diet to see if there would be any improvement. I started with dairy as my sister has a dairy allergy and I thought it was as good a place to start as any. If that didn’t improve my next step was to exclude gluten.
I initially tried him on goats milk and yogurts but he was still having the same issues. I then tried him with soya milk, within a week he was having nights without waking at all. What a breakthrough! I soon found that he had issues if he had anything which contained dairy as well as just the main culprits – milk, cheese, yogurts etc. I started reading all labels when shopping and soon had a whole list of things he couldn’t have, but as time went on I found excellent alternatives for most of these things. It changed all our lives taking him off dairy, he wasn’t sick anymore, had full nights of uninterrupted sleep and was in better form as a result. Mammy and Daddy got uninterrupted nights too and the Mammy guilt and worry over what was wrong with my little boy was gone.
In June 2010 we brought him to a specialist that deals with allergies in children. An allergy test ruled out any allergies, but we were advised it was most likely a cows protein intolerance (now called non-iGE mediated allergy) and to continue with soya milk and he would most likely grow out of it.
We have kept him off milk products and milk-containing products from then until recently. It is easy at home, he doesn’t even know any different to having ‘his milk’ and ‘our milk’, using a different spread etc. When we bake we make dairy free stuff, and any food I make is suitable for all the family so he never feels excluded. The only issue ever occurred while out and about. If we were going to a children’s birthday party I would bring his own lunchbox, see ideas here. For visiting people I would usually bring dairy free biscuits, I found Jacobs Kimberley, Mikado or Coconut Creams great as they are dairy free but still fun. Another favourite to bring with us was Organix Gingerbread Men when he was younger.
Now we’re at February 2013 and he can have most foods that contain milk without any issue. We don’t give him milk, cheese, yogurt, or anything with large amounts of dairy but he is tolerating small amounts well and it is much easier for being out and about, I don’t have to worry about the meltdowns when someone else is having something he can’t have. Fingers crossed he continues this way.