This week I’m joined by Becky at Mummyest2014. Who has shared her son’s story of being diagnosed with CMPA, and her tips on battling a fussy eater with food allergies. Please take a moment to check out her blog, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
When J was born he was bottle fed (he just wouldn’t take to breast feeding). I quickly realised that something wasn’t right and that J was getting poorly every time he has a feed. He would puke (like the girl from The Exorcist), cry and bring his legs up, have wind that could be weaponised and an eczema rash. After being fobbed off multiple times with ‘reflux’, ‘indigestion’ and ‘it’s just something babies do’ we eventually were seen by paediatric dieticians a diagnosis of Cows Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) and soya allergy was given.
We changed to prescription ‘milk’ and never looked back. The change was almost instant and J was soon thriving.
At his review with the dieticians near age 1, J had outgrown his soya allergy but had picked up a peanut allergy (only mild thankfully). He was also ready for Milk Reintroduction…known as The Milk Ladder. J is now 2, and has reached yoghurts and ice cream stage. We still limit how much he has a day as it does still give him THOSE poo’s if he has too much.
Living with Allergies
Weaning with a child with allergies is always challenging. No matter what the allergy is there is always the issue of finding alternate foods, costs and the hassle when popping out for lunch or parties. We found Tesco and ASDA had the best ‘free from’ range especially for milk AND soya free products. I always carried spare safe foods in my bag in case we got a last minute invite anywhere or there was nothing ‘J friendly’.
My advice is to never assume that anything is ‘safe’ until you have looked at the ingredients. I was amazed how many different names milk and Soya could have. After a while it became second nature and I knew which brands to avoid. One example of this was gravy and stock…some have milk and soya in, some don’t. Once you’ve found one that ‘fits’ then that brand becomes your best friend (to save money keep an eye on shopping comparison apps, and stock up whenever this brands come in offer anywhere).
Fussy Eater or Over Stimulating?
I home cooked and home made food wherever possible (depending on time, money and being arsed to do it). This meant I could control ingredients and the preparation. Sounds great in theory but from about 18 months J turned into THE fussiest eater. So as well as having to be mindful of allergies, reintroduction and nutrition, I now had the worry of ‘will he eat it?’.
I found patterns in what J would and wouldn’t eat. He won’t eat ‘wet’ or sticky food. He likes drier foods…my bolognese has to be made with a particular amount of passata to pass the J test. Too much and it’s too wet, too little and it’s just gross. I begun to introduce small changes e.g.: adding a few twirly pastas to the spaghetti to slightly change texture. Our paediatrician says it can take months for a child to tolerate changes so just keep offering it alongside foods you know are ‘safe food’.
With reintroduction this is also true. J has been used to certain tastes and now we were bringing in these new foods, smells and textures. I think I got over excited by all these new foods and over loaded him. Now I take it slower and let him get familiar with a food before the next change.
To help J with both fussiness and dealing with allergies/reintroduction I have learnt some tricks…
- Interesting plates and bowls to get their attention (the Blaze set is our latest addition)
- Child sized cutlery… J loves doing things for himself so he likes having his own special cutlery
- Routine… Children need routines and boundaries. It provides emotional stability, especially if there’s new foods involved. J sits in same place, same mat, same drink offers, same time(ish) and same rules (stay at table till all finished, no yoghurt if you don’t eat enough).
- Praise… What child doesn’t like to be told they are doing great?
- Ignore what is safe to ignore… J will throw food on the floor, smash it with a fist and let it ‘fall’ out of his mouth. I ignore what is safe to ignore so he realises he’s not getting attention for it. He does have to help clear up messes
- Do yourself a favour and have some nights where you just have an easy ‘he’ll definitely eat this’. This is for your own sanity!
A Quick and Simple Meal Idea
Here’s a meal that J will ALWAYS eat (touch wood!). It’s a basic milk free chicken and rice dish.
- Cook the chicken (I fry diced chicken breasts)
- Add chicken stock (stock cube and hot water) and garlic (I add soy sauce to my own portion once I’ve dished out J’s)
- Add vegetables…tonight we had baby sweetcorn, peas, mushrooms and spring onions (J has now decided that he no longer likes mushrooms)
- Cook the rice as you like it. J likes egg fried rice…sometimes we cheat and use microwave rice but please double check ingredients as some these add some allergens.
That’s it…it’s quick and easy. There’s no milk, no soya (just be mindful of the stock), no peanuts so it’s perfect for J. For baby led weaners this is a good ‘finger food’ meal as the stock tends to cook away so not too ‘wet’.
A Few Final Thoughts…
My advice for anyone dealing with allergies is to make a list of meals that are safe. Also, try substitutions in cooking e.g. use your child’s prescription/alternate milk source for real milk in products. It makes life easier than trying to avoid milk foods all the time.
Don’t be afraid to be a pain in the GP’s backside. This is your child and you know when they aren’t quite right.