When Your Baby Has a Food Allergy: 4 Ways to Cope

Allergy Pic
Image via Flickr/gogatsby

My son was an awful baby. I know saying that makes me sound like the awful one, but if I am being completely honest, when I look back at his infanthood, awful is the only way to describe it. There was crying—lots of crying. Rashes and belly aches and sleepless nights. When we finally discovered why, I’m not sure if I was happier to finally know what we were dealing with, or more panicked about how to deal with it. The verdict was food allergies to milk, eggs, and – of all things – bananas and pears!

Some days I felt like my whole day was consumed with thinking about, preparing, or eating food.

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It felt very heavy. That might seem silly, but think of all the things you eat on a daily basis, and then subtract anything with one of those ingredients. Oh, and I forgot to mention—this was before my son was eating solids. I was nursing, so that meant it was affecting not only his, but also my diet. Now there is a lot of debate over whether a food allergy can be passed through a mother’s breastmilk, but I will tell you it made a HUGE difference for my little boy.

Maybe it was out of desperation, but I adapted. There were a few things I found that made my life a little easier, and they eventually helped me find that motherhood groove for me and my sweet boy. So if you’re just discovering a food allergy in your child, I’m sorry. It stinks, but it gets easier. Here are a few things you can try.

Image via iStock
Image via iStock

Parental support groups

 The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation Community is an online resource for parents who have children with food allergies. There you can find resources to help you with recipes and information, plus you can also find a community that will support you and answer the questions that will inevitably arise. I found that speaking to other parents who were dealing with similar allergy situations and getting their tips about what worked and what didn't work for them was the most helpful thing for me. I felt like I had experts to go to when I needed it, and people who wouldn't judge me for feeding my kid the same thing for breakfast every single day because it was all he would eat! There’s no resource quite as valuable as other mothers who've been there! 

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Image via Flickr/Elaine Vigneault
Image via Flickr/Elaine Vigneault

Food Calendaring

Some days, I felt like my whole day was consumed with thinking about, preparing, or eating food. With so many allergies, my options for myself and my son were quite limited, but I wasn't going to take milk and eggs out of my 4-year-old's diet, so planning ahead and calendaring-out meal options was essential to having a smooth day. I found it also helped us waste less food. I don’t know if you've noticed, but almond milk, rice replacement-cheese shreds, and other allergy-free replacement products are expensive! The last thing I could afford to do was let it go bad, so planning meals with those perishable ingredients in mind helped me justify their expense.

Image via Flickr/whatshername
Image via Flickr/whatshername

Ask your supermarket to carry new products

Your grocery store will carry what there is a demand for. My son began having issues maintaining his weight without dairy fat in his diet. The doctor suggested we try coconut milk as a replacement because it’s a bit fattier. My son loved it, but my grocery store would often be out of it. When I let them know they could count on me to buy at least a gallon a week, they ordered more to accommodate me. They also began ordering Earth Balance brand butter (dairy-free) for me, which they hadn't carried before. So find out the products that will help make your life easier, and then don’t be afraid to ask for them! Most purchasers are happy to make a change if they know it’s going to be purchased. (On your first trip to the grocery store to shop for new food to fit your new guidelines for food allergies, give yourself PLENTY of time, so that you can read labels, ask questions, and become familiar with your new routine!)

Image via Flickr/mikebaird
Image via Flickr/mikebaird

Breathe

Breathe. It’s hard. There is no guarantee that your child is going to eat what you’ve made (even if it costs $6.50 for 4 oz. of rice cheese). There are bound to be frustrating days. There will even be issues with weight gain, reactions, inconsistencies …  Breathe. Take a deep breath and try again. There is a learning curve, but you will find a groove. Ask for help and realize that it'll be OK if you have a bad day. Tomorrow will be better.

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Luckily, many children outgrow their food allergies. My son is now 3 1/2 and is clear of all of his allergies. So, while I may look at his infanthood as awful, it didn’t continue that way. Once we got a handle on his health and allergies, things began looking up quickly. I love the little man that he is becoming and would definitely consider him a childhood food allergy success story!

Do your children have food allergies? How do you deal with meal planning? Have you found any supermarkets that have awesome food substitution selections?

 

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When Your Baby Has a Food Allergy: 4 Ways to Cope

Jeanna Strassburg is a wife, and mother of three, who enjoys kitchen dance parties and summer time! Jeanna received her bachelor’s degree in Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho in April of 2007. She enjoys spending her time cooking, cleaning and tending to the proper duties of a stay at home mother… NOPE! Truthfully, she enjoys eating the food, but not making it or cleaning up after it. She likes to have a clean home, but loathes laundry and dishes. Loves her children, but coul ... More

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3 comments

  1. Amy French says:

    My now 13 month old son is allergic to milk and soy. He also is allergic to carrots and tomatoes.
    I am slightly glad my doctor was a moron and I stopped breastfeeding. I feel like I would starve without these in my diet.
    I feel like I’m finally getting used to the hard meal planning. Somedays my son ends up eating the same thing for breakfast and dinner because I have no idea what to feed him. We just discovered this tomato allergy which caused him to swell up and break out in head to toe hives.
    I’m painfully frustrated, they won’t order enough formula for my little man. I live in an area where there are no specialty grocery stores. I feel everyone else’s pain as well!
    For now, I look at my beautiful little boy who makes me laugh and cry and smile. It’s all worth it!

  2. damion says:

    All dairy and soy products

  3. Lisa says:

    My Little Ones allergy didnt start until she started school, and its not to a food. She is sight impaired and only has a little sight in one eye, so I make sure that the only soaps I use for her are designed to be gentle on babies eyes. I try to keep the little vision she has safe. When she started school, she kept getting sent home with an unknown rash that would be gone my Monday and by mid week was all over her hands and arms. One day it was so bad that both of her hands swelled up to twice their size and she was in pain for 2 days. After several dr visits, an er visit, and a dermatologist visit, I finally took her to an allergist. He tested her for the 8 most common food, and 8 most common environmental allergies, all were neg. After the school watching closer to when the rashes started, they determined 3 other items to test for, Play-Doh, Hummus, and Soft Soap. She tested positive for Play-Doh, but not that bad. The Hummus was negative, but the Soft soap brand soap they use caused a reaction that even shocked the Allergist. He even asked to take photos, he said it was the most severe soap allergy he has ever seen, and he is not a young dr. The day her hands got so bad, she was playing with her Hummus instead of eating it, which is why we tested that, but it was because they used more soap on her that day that caused her hands to swell so bad.

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