Sunday 24 February 2019

Joshua's Dairy Allergy One Year On

It's been just over a year since we discovered Joshua's allergy and I thought it would be the perfect time to share how things are now and what we've learned so far. The first and only post I have shared on his allergy is Why Our Three Month Old has Soya Milk because we had quite a number of messages and unwanted advice when we switched Joshua to SMA Wysoy. I won't go into it too much here because it's all in that first post but the guidelines are not to give soya formula for babies under six months BUT if you do your research, read enough medical studies and make an informed decision for yourself and your child, there really isn't that much of a concern to be had. You can buy it from supermarkets, it's suitable from birth and I believe if there really were severe health implications, you wouldn't be able to shop it so easily.

Also, if we were raising Joshua vegan, no one would've said shit to us.

We had the full support of our health visitor when changing Joshua to Wysoy and that is the advice we stuck with. Our GP was very unhelpful on numerous occasions and another told us she had no idea about formula so couldn't help us. From the minute we gave Joshua that first bottle of Wysoy, it was like having a different baby. We couldn't believe the change in him and making that change honestly gave us our happy little baby back. 

Having a baby with an undiscovered allergy is like having a baby with colic but ten times worse. It's heartbreaking and until you find what is right for you, for us it was a soya formula, it can honestly feel like the end of the world. 

The SMA Wysoy is a couple of quid more than usual formulas in supermarkets but if you go down the GP assisted route you can get some formulas on prescription. SMA Wysoy is actually available on prescription too but we were refused it so purchased* it ourselves. 

(*I am very much of the belief that if you have an item put on a prescription that is also available to buy in a pharmacy over the counter and you can afford to buy it, then you really should. This doesn't include large quantities of items.)

I'm pretty sensitive to lactose myself so I've always been quite aware of milk being in everything but when you really do have to check every little thing, it can be quite full-on and some things do slip through the net. In the last year, we've had three occasions where Joshua has had something with milk in and each time, mere hours later it was like having our upset, colic like baby back but now we thankfully know exactly what to do to relieve the problem quickly. 

We started weaning at four months with baby porridge mixed with his formula milk until five months when we started to introduce different flavours of puree. Weaning early was the right decision for us and it worked really well, we stuck with traditional weaning because I couldn't think of anything worse than baby-led, it terrifies me and Joshua is a pretty good eater now so we have no regrets. He loves a wide range of food, anything spicy and would live on blueberries if he could, the boy is obsessed with them! 

The biggest learning curve is checking every single packet as I said previously because milk is in things that it really shouldn't need to be! Why is everyone so obsessed with milk?! I've become the mum that checks and checks again, I take Joshua's own lunch to everything and intercept food being given to Joshua without my consent which drives me mad! I just don't understand people who just give other people's children food without checking first. Thankfully I am surrounded by some fabulous people who always check before giving Joshua anything and we always tend to meet in places that have a great vegan menu which makes ordering for Joshua much easier. 

I know I've mentioned the vegan thing a couple of times now, we're not raising Joshua vegan, Arran and I both eat meat and we do offer it to Joshua too but aren't forceful with if he eats it or not. I do however eat vegan when I got out with Joshua, ordering one meal we can share together is cheaper and as there are so many vegan options available now, I find it much easier and more reassuring as at least I know there isn't any dairy in it. There's a huge focus on allergies in restaurants now but the majority of brands aren't training all their staff because of cost or you're only able to order from a manager who is doing ten other things which means waiting a half an hour to place an order with a hangry toddler which isn't doable so vegan it is! 

One thing I did find quite difficult was what to switch Joshua to once he turned one, everyone bangs on about oooo it's time to switch to cows milk but I really wasn't sure about our options. Could I just switch him to normal soya? Could he have almond, coconut or oat milk? Is there a toddler equivalent? Who knew! In the end, we bought one of each and tried him on them all and then eliminated what Joshua didn't like. We did also find that Alpro does 1-3 years growing up milk but it's not available everywhere so we can only get a few in when we shop with Ocado. More often than not, Joshua will just have Oatly which he seems to love and I've switched to it recently as well. We just warm it up for him and he's good to go! 

Joshua eats a really varied diet and he 100% does not need cows' milk to thrive! Cows milk has such a detrimental effect on the human digestive system that I cannot understand why there is such a push for babies and toddlers to have it when it's scientifically proven they can get the same benefits of cows milk from a healthy balanced diet with multivitamins (which you're recommended to give with cows milk too). 

Anyway, I am not a pediatric doctor I've just researched a hell of a lot due to regularly being met with questions from people regarding our choices.

In the last six months, we have had a pediatric dietitian appointment which was not great and Joshua's one year review which did go much better than I was expecting. The pediatric dietitian appointment was last August and I found it really unhelpful, we were discharged at the end of it, we still do not know if Joshua's allergy is dairy or lactose and I don't think we ever will. It's just going to be a case of us learning to control it and look out for triggers when we eventually try and introduce it in a few years. 

The main objective of the appointment it seemed was to introduce the Milk Ladder which is a chart on how and when to introduce dairy, the ladder was full of biscuits, cakes and peculiar meals. It seems like a really unhealthy way to do it and it's not something we'll be trying. The UK seem to have this odd fascination with pushing everyone on to dairy and the doctor's insistence on doing this to Joshua really pissed me off especially when I told her he'd accidentally had something with dairy five weeks prior to this appointment and had had an awful reaction but she didn't seem to care, she still said we should try the milk ladder to which I retorted that she wouldn't be pushing this so much if we were raising him vegan which she eventually admitted no she wouldn't be. 

The other reason for trying to introduce dairy was because it would be easier for us, which I think was a ridiculous statement for her to make. Eating dairy-free is relatively easy, you just need to check check check and there are so many more options available it's easier than ever, it was so much harder not even four years ago! I just don't believe you should potentially make a child ill so it makes life easier and I was glad to walk out of that doctor's office.

Joshua's one year review took place at 16 months and again we had the full support of our health visitor with what we were doing and how we were handling Joshua's allergy which was such a relief. We've had little to no guidance and done everything by ourselves so to have that bit of reassurance really helped. We had a slip up a few weeks ago with a weaning biscuit which had always been dairy-free but this particular flavour wasn't so we know to not start introducing anything yet, in the meantime we'll continue to make delicious dairy-free food for our scrummy toddler. 

Has it been hard on occasions? God yes! Do I sometimes wish we could share a cheese sarnie instead of having to smell awful Violife? Definitely but I'd rather our son was happy and healthy. I've learned how to create our favourite meals without dairy, I've explored so much more vegan food than I would've done otherwise and we have some firm favourite restaurants in Southampton now. 

Joshua's allergy doesn't define him, he knows no different which is why you'll never hear me refer to him as an allergy baby, he's just Joshua, our Joshua and we love him no matter what. 

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