My baby’s allergic to milk…now what?

by Kim on August 25, 2012

Announcement time: I’m becoming a quasi-vegan.

Dairy-free, in other words. (True vegans don’t eat meat, eggs, or honey either.) So no milk, no cheese, no butter, no yogurt, no ice cream, no sour cream, and no five million other things that secretly contain milk.

You’re probably thinking “Hmmm…I know she lives in a hippie town and shops at Trader Joe’s sometimes…but isn’t this kind of excessive? I give it a week.”

But the reason for the change has nothing to do with animal rights, the environment, health improvements, or whatever else drives vegans to turn away a nice big creamy, fudgey sundae (oh yeah–also not the reason: obesity).

We’ve finally figured out that Mason is allergic to the milk (and possibly soy) proteins he’s getting from me.

Know how I’ve been complaining and complaining about his various baby issues? Sleeplessness, excessive spitting up, acid reflux, cradle cap, diarrhea, eczema…I’d been told it was all totally normal and I was just going to have to suck it up until, one day, he magically grew out of everything and morphed into the perfect itch-free, smooth-skinned, calm-stomached, sleep-loving baby I knew he was underneath it all.

IMG_1597You sure about that, lady?

As it turns out, there was a (HUGE) piece of the puzzle missing, and we’re just getting to the bottom of it now.

When we came home from the cabin, after my mom had watched M for 2 days, she looked at us and basically said “something is not right here.” She’d been scrubbing our poor couch non-stop (thanks to our son the spit-up fountain) and doing load after load of laundry (due to multiple diaper blow-outs a day). Plus, there were his red cheeks after eating and (TMI! LAST CHANCE TO LOOK AWAY NOW!) the greenish poop. Not to mention his full-body sandpaper armor (eczema), which was always the least of my laundry list of problems, but still annoying.

I’d always had the feeling that his behaviors weren’t completely normal…when friends complained about the same issues, I got the impression that they were talking about much more subtle versions of them. As soon as they got XYZ eczema cream or started the baby on acid reflux meds-miraculously cured! For us, it was never that simple, and all the different options, opinions, and empathetic comments were starting to get exhausting. (“I know, isn’t spit-up frustrating?”…yes, a couple tablespoons here and there is frustrating…constant, stomach-emptying rivers is downright traumatizing. I’m seriously confused about how he managed to gain any weight in the last 5 months.)

Anyway, the only thing left on the list of possible causes was food allergy. Dairy is the most common food allergy in babies. And unlike alcohol and caffeine, which go through your bloodstream and hop in and out of breastmilk, you can’t just wait a few hours before feeding baby again with milk proteins. They hang out in the milk indefinitely, so nixing la leche altogether is the only solution.

So I’ve been dairy-free for 5 days now, and the difference in M already has been shocking. The spit-up and diarrhea have stopped cold turkey, the eczema is almost completely gone…and we basically have a brand new baby.

IMG_1584Bout time, guys. Seriously. How much vomit does it take to get through to you people?

However…going dairy-free is a massive undertaking.

I didn’t even realize how many things had milk or soy in them, or how much I relied on those things in my typical diet. Cheese is the biggest one-we’re all about Mexican food over here, but how many Mexican foods can you think of that don’t have cheese?? And I eat goat cheese possibly 5 days/week. Yes, there is vegan cheese, but it’s typically made out of soy-another no-no, at least temporarily. (We’re not sure if he’s just allergic to milk, or milk and soy, so for now I’m off both.) I haven’t tried milk- and soy-free cheese yet (it does exist, and can be found lurking deep in the Uber Weird Food aisles at Whole Foods…) but how much can it really still taste like cheese at that point? (TBD…I’ll report back.)

Butter/margarine is another big hitter, along with pretty much any white or creamy sauce…oh, and CHOCOLATE is off the menu. (!!!)

(Luckily, luckily, most wine is safe.)

So I’ve been reading nutrition labels like a fiend, and it gets massively complicated (not to mention time-consuming). No-no words that all secretly indicate milk protein include casein, caseinate, lactalbumin, lactose, and whey (I’d been using protein powder in my breakfast daily-no more!).

Then there are the soy words: soy lechitin, soybean oil, soy flour, soy fiber, soy albumin, etc. There’s conflicting information online about whether soy lechitin (which, I’m convinced, is in literally 98% percent of foods that don’t come directly out of the ground) and soybean oil are ok or not, and it sounds like it depends on how sensitive your baby’s particular allergy is. My plan is to avoid them as much as possible for the first 2 weeks (a sort of “total dairy cleanse” period), then start slowly reintroducing them, along with other things that aren’t directly associated with cow’s milk, and see how M handles it.

Biggest soy impacts on me: I LOVE tofu. Possibly more than real meat. I’ll also be getting my sushi soy-sauce-less for awhile.

When I started all this 5 days ago, I was kind of paralyzed-afraid to eat anything. The guilt of watching your baby itch and vomit just because you had to have a stupid piece of cheese is a strong motivator, believe me.

I’m still getting comfortable with the label-reading business, and I’ll have to revamp my entire library of go-to recipes.

I also had to figure out what to do about chocolate. I can live without sour cream and cottage cheese, but CHOCOLATE? Come on.

So I combed both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods yesterday, examining every vegan product on the shelves (just “vegan” or “dairy-free” wasn’t even good enough, since I had to watch out for soy, too), and came home with these:

IMG_1633

They’re basically glorified air, tinted brown. The list of allergens they do NOT contain on the back is dizzying. So far, I’ve tried the ricemilk one and it’s…ok.

I also brought home some dairy-free ice cream subs:

IMG_1632

These did NOT disappoint (no huge surprise there…coconut milk is awesome!). However, I messed up a little bit…I didn’t realize that the cookie dough one only said “dairy-free,” but was NOT soy-free. So hubby took care of the entire container of that last night for me (I can always count on him in a pinch), while I worked on the mint chip. Not bad!

I have a lot more to say on this topic, but I better cut it off there-time to hop in the shower and get ready for DATE NIGHT! Mason’s getting a babysitter (my bro and sis-in-law) and we’re getting sushi (minus the soy) at a new restaurant downtown, followed by the Dark Knight Rises.

Any dairy-free recipes/products/books/etc. you recommend for me?

To be honest: as much as I don’t want to give up my goat cheese, this has been kind of a fun learning process. And an interesting cooking/eating challenge.

At the same time, I pray that he grows out of it ASAP!!

Have a great weekend!

~Kim

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicky July 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

I realize this post is from almost 2 years ago, but it is very helpful to me. We just discovered our little guy (4 months old now) has a Cows Milk Protein Allergy and it’s been such a game changer for me. I’m just sad we didn’t discover it earlier.

I was wondering if your little M ever outgrew his allergy? A lot of the information out there says many do and since it has been a while since you posted this, I am hoping you can give some more information—looking back on your experience and all.

Thanks!

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Kim July 12, 2014 at 7:09 am

Unfortunately, no, my son hasn’t outgrown his yet. But he actually has several food allergies in addition to milk. I think if your son just has a one-off allergy to milk, he’s much more likely to outgrow it! I, too, was sad that we didn’t discover it sooner…you actually caught yours a few months before we did! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you–we’ve totally been through the ringer with allergies! Hang in there!

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Christina March 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Are you sensitive to dairy as a whole, or just lactose (the sugar in milk)? I also had a problem with dairy…every time I would eat it my eczema would flare and I would break out so bad! However, I found out that it wasn’t exactly the dairy per se, but rather the lactose in milk I was reacting badly to. Ever since I completed the Flawless Program 30-day Program my eczema has disappeared and now I’m able to eat fermented dairy that doesn’t contain lactose, like: kefir, greek yogurt, fresh creams, hard cheeses, moldy cheeses, etc. :)

Also, Whole Foods has great soy-free, dairy free options for ice cream, milk, and sauces! :D Good luck on your journey!
Christina recently posted…Dairy Free “Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream”My Profile

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Jenna September 14, 2012 at 11:55 am

Hey Kim!

I caught up on all of your posts today… and I mean all of them. You are such an ispiration to me and have certainly put the motivation boot under my… well, anyway. Planning on taking Sunday to get some things taken care of that have been hanging at the bottom of my “I’ll get around to it someday” list.

Moving on, I had no idea Mase had an allergy to dairy and soy. You are such a rockstar mom to put off cheese. Cheese to me is like chocolate is to you. Ugh. I can’t even think about it. I came across another blog after attempting to look up some milk and soy free recipes for you and your fam. This mom is in the same boat as you are with her baby. It looks like she has a lot of badass recipes on there that would have any high society food critic fooled.

Check it out: http://dairyandsoyfreemom.blogspot.com/

Keep up the great blogging and I will keep up the reading! Love these features and I REALLY love the fact that I can still keep up with your family hundreds of miles away.

Best!
Jenna

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Kim September 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Thanks Jenna! And thanks for the blog link! :)

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Olga November 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Only drink small amounts of soy milk due to the fact that the soy bean has nurtaal chemicals that are poisonous in large amounts. I would recommend Lactaid milk or a brand like it that’s made for lactose intolerant people.

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Kim August 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Jess!! :)
Kim recently posted…My baby’s allergic to milk…now what?My Profile

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Jessica Berry August 26, 2012 at 3:47 am

In the words of Swiper the Fox, “Ohhhhh maaaaaaan!” But good for you for making such a big sacrifice for the sake of your beebee :) The great news for you is, this is only temporary! And even though months or a year more may seem like a long time, at the end of the tunnel lies buckets and buckets of M&M’s and chocolate fountains, creamy pastas, and delicious plates of artisan cheeses :) A good friend of mine is allergic to dairy, and after the initial shock of learning how to buy groceries and go out to eat, she has actually been grateful for the lifestyle change!

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