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(Not) Milking It

When Madeleine was around 10 months old we began to see small spots on
her face that gradually increased, and at her 1-year visit our
pediatrician confirmed it as an allergic reaction. Since the reaction
was not severe, though, she said we could either try to figure out what
was causing it or simply live with it. As long as Maddie wasn’t
uncomfortable, eating a food she had a reaction to was no big deal.
Most infant food allergies are outgrown by age 2 or so, and consuming
something at her age that she’d have a reaction to would in no way make
her more likely to keep that allergy for life.

And before you
ask, yes, I did the slow food introduction thing. I introduced every
new food to Madeleine one at a time, waiting five days between each food
for signs of an allergic reaction. When I told our pediatrician that,
and that nothing happened, she said sometimes an allergy won’t come on
right away. Made me feel a bit better as a mommy, but I still felt like
a bit of a Slacker Mom for not catching it sooner.

So as I said,
we had two choices. Try to pin down the allergy food, or simply let her
live with it. Being the obsessive-compulsive I am, I had to know what
was causing it. So we went to work.

We opted not to do any blood work, since it’s only about 85% effective
and Maddie’s reaction wasn’t life-threateningly bad. Instead we went
with the good old-fashioned elimination diet. I was determined that
we’d be disciplined and diligent for a while, and hunt down the culprit.

an elimination diet, you take out any food that’s a known allergen, like
wheat, dairy, corn, soy, tomatoes, berries, and eggs. You keep them out
long enough for the reaction to go away, then re-introduce them one at a
time until the symptoms are reproduced.

I figured that should be
pretty easy! I mean, I already did such a diet once, after all. When
she was seven or eight months old all she ate was fruit, veggies, and
meat. So we’d just go back to that!

Couple of snags in
that plan. For one thing, Maddie had now tasted all the new and
exciting complex foods, and didn’t want to go back to bland,
one-ingredient foods. For another, she was then 12 months old and
starting her whole meat aversion, which meant she needed fat and protein
from the dairy and egg yolks she consumed.

And finally, she
really really really likes Cheerios. And they have wheat in them. Take
a moment to absorb those ramifications.

Yep, two weeks of a
cranky, rather hungry child. Is it any wonder my weaning plans got
derailed? Because yes, you have to go for two weeks; it takes that long
for dairy and soy proteins to get out of a baby’s system. And with no
cow’s milk in a cup, Maddie was relying on the water glass and me for
her drinks.

Fortunately for us, our pediatrician advised us to
add dairy, then soy back in first since they were the most likely
culprits. So after two weeks we added back Maddie’s beloved yogurt and
cheese, and sure enough, a couple days later her face starts popping out
again. Pour her a glass of milk, and the spread is almost visible.

we found out early on that cow’s milk was the problem. We had to keep
it out of her diet for a long time while we made sure there was nothing
else she was allergic to. And as we gradually added things back in,
life became more bearable. Soy – soy yogurt! Soy milk! Wheat –
CHEERIOS!!!! Corn – VEGGIE BOOTY!!!! Yeah!!!!

figured out it’s just cow’s milk, and so we’re adding bits of it back
into her diet. She eats the occasional dairy yogurt, since it’s so much
easier to find than soy yogurt, and she has cheese in some of her foods.
And as a side note, it’s the proteins in milk – casein, and whey – that
people are allergic to, and yet every brand of soy cheese I found was
made primarily from soy and casein! What’s that all about?

haven’t tried milk again, though. We know it won’t harm her but we’re
vain enough to want to keep her skin clear. Plus, she’s grown to like
the taste of the plain soy milk so we leave well enough alone. We’ll
try the cow’s milk again at 15 months, and every 3 months after that.

until then, it’s a soy world after all.


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