Posted in Parenting

I Support You

There’s a movement going online in the realm of parenting.

The “I support you” campaign was launched in an effort to stop the “mommy wars” with regards to the breastmilk -vs- formula debate.

The way I see it, motherhood is hard enough without having to feel and be judged by others.  We actually do a good job of judging ourselves without outside help.

The parent section of the Huffington post has launched a slideshow with photos containing the “I support you” message.  You can read the article here and submit a photo to the slideshow by simply clicking “add a slide” at the end of the article, tweeting a picture to @HuffPostParents including the #isupportyou hashtag or shooting an email to formulafeeders@gmail.com.

I decided to submit my own message yesterday via twitter.

I support you

Anyone else on for the ride?

 

 

Posted in Parenting

Allergy Elimination Diet, Part 1: Dairy

After finding out that my son is currently allergic to dairy and that his bad eczema is most likely caused by the dairy (and/or something else) in my own diet, I’ve started an allergy elimination diet in hopes of controlling his eczema without the use of prescription creams.  I decided to start with eliminating dairy first because that is something I am certain his body can’t handle now that he’s started solids.

To help me with this, I went to see a dietician last Saturday.  I needed to make sure that my body had everything it needed (emphasis put on vitamine D and calcium) even though I’d be removing a whole food group from my diet.  The dietician I met with was really nice and had a lot of resources to share with me.

Among the food other than dairy that contains a decent amount of calcium that is well-absorbed by the body, there is:

– Enriched soy beverage (except we agreed that I should try to stay clear of soy as it is very common for children who are allergic to dairy to also be allergic to soy);

– Sardines (with bones);

– Pink and Sockeye salmon (also with bones)

I also told her that I had been drinking almond milk and rice milk (which are both very yummy) and she suggested I check if they contained decent amounts of vitamin D and calcium (which they do so yay!).

She also told me to check the list of ingredients in things such as cold cuts, bread products, cereal, mayonnaise and chips because they are all things that could contain milk ingredients.

Speaking of milk ingredients, did you know that there are a whole bunch of hidden names for milk protein?  I found this pdf document that lists them all from kidawithfoodallergies.org an awesome site full of ressources on food allergies.  They also provide a list of hidden names for other common allergens such as eggs and wheat.

I’ve been at it for a little less than a week now and though it is hard (as I LOVE dairy) it’s not as bad as I though.  There are so many great products out there after all.  The hardest part is thinking before I order something while eating out.  For instance, having the cheese sandwich at a local sub shop is not a good idea when one is not allowed to eat cheese.

Right now, my son’s eczema seems to be under control (I must grudgingly admit that the prescription creams are doing wonders in that department) and hope that the fact that I’m not having dairy anymore will have a positive impact once the creams run out.  Changes don’t happen overnight and I know that I have to wait at least two weeks until I see changes caused by my change of diet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed so that I don’t have to eliminate another major allergen from my diet.

I’m also happy to say that we have not had any allergic reactions since my son’s smoothie last week so I’m hopeful that his other reactions were just caused by his immune system being on high alert from the dairy he’d consumed.

Now, I just have to find a dessert that I can have when my friends come over this weekend.  Hey, I don’t suppose anyone knows a good dairy-free recipe eh?  (You know, the kind that doesn’t contain milk, butter, cream, chocolate or the like…)

Posted in Parenting

Waaaay Past Annoyed

First off, I apologize in advance because I am about to launch into a rant.

Those of you who have been following this blog for the past month, will probably have an idea of the issue I am about to address.

I just got back from the pediatrician’s office.  We went back in two weeks after his previous visit because Charles has had more allergic reactions to food.  My goal was to at least get a script for an epipen in case his next reaction turned into something worse than hives.  I also wanted a RAST test (which requires blood to be drawn) to be prescribed so that I could know exactly what he is allergic to right now.  That way, I can be more certain of which foods (besides dairy) to avoid.

Here are the salient points from our appointment…

1.  The pediatrician won’t prescribe an epipen because he’s too young.  To further argue her cause, she cites that he has “only” had hives so far.   “Just don’t give him the foods he’s reacted to (duh!), keep some benadryl with you at all times (double duh!) and bring him to the ER if his reaction is more severe (triple duh!)”.  So if my 7 month old stops breathing on me after eating something then I have to drive 20 min. to the nearest hospital.  Excellent.

2.  We’re also not getting a blood test done.  I can’t really cite the reasons; by that time, I had decided to learn from her and ignore what she was saying.

3.  When she asked me to repeat which foods he’d had a reaction to, I recited them again.  Mentioning that I was certain about an allergy to dairy, tomato and cantaloupe and was still unsure about wheat, eggs, fish and blueberries.  She nods her head and asks me how old he is (what, you mean you didn’t take a few minutes to read his file before calling us in?!?).  7 months.  And then she goes on to scold me because supposedly he’s too young to be having fish, eggs and dairy.  WTF?  Since when?  It’s not like I gave him nuts.  And it’s not like I had any idea that he’d have a reaction in the first place because neither my partner or I have any food allergies.  Besides, I didn’t know when I started solids that his eczema was most likely a sign that he was reacting to something that was in my milk (more on that in the next point).  In her opinion, my son should be on cereal, fruits and veggies.  Good thing she doesn’t know we’re not doing purées!  Also, the introduction of solids, much like every other aspect of parenting, has many many many schools of thought.

4.  I told her that I’d read that his eczema might be a result of an allergic reaction to the lactose he gets through my breastmilk because I eat dairy.  I went on to add that I was meeting with a dietician tomorrow so that she can help me with an allergy elimination diet starting with the removal of all milk products from my meals.  The pediatrician tells me that I should definitely be removing not only dairy but anything else that my son has reacted to so far as though it was the most obvious thing in the world (let me remind you here that the last time I went – two weeks ago – she had asked me if I’d had to remove anything from my diet since giving birth and when I said ‘no’ she didn’t suggest that dairy was one of the things that was probably causing my son’s bad eczema).

5. As seems to be the case with our recent appointments, she kept focusing on his eczema.  So, I ended up getting a prescription for a moisturizing cream, another prescription for a cortisone cream for his body, another one to control his itchiness and a reminder that the cortisone cream we already have at home is for his face…

Basically, we’re going to be treating the symptoms instead of the cause until our appointment with the pediatric allergist comes up in October and hoping that his hives stay “just” hives to avoid a trip to the ER.

I’m really hating our health care system right now.  I know that the grass only looks greener on the other side of the fence and that no matter where I’d go, I’d have to face different challenges, but the grass is looking pretty yellowish to my eye on my side of the fence right now…

OK, rant over.

Posted in Parenting

Nursing A Teething Baby

A couple of weeks ago, I encountered on of the many bumps that come along with breastfeeding: nursing my teething son.  Now, you see, I’d already gone down the road of having a teething baby at the breast, the difference is that last time around, my son hadn’t already cut teeth.  This means that while he was nursing (for comfort or for hunger) and gumming down quite hard, it didn’t really hurt.  This time around, though.  Oh.  My.  God.  Ouchies!  He would be happily nursing when all of a sudden…pain.  Two little daggers digging into my tender skin (and I had the teeth marks to prove it!).

I would break the seal forcing my son to unlatch and say “no, don’t bite mommy”.  Then, I would wait until my son realized what was going on (meaning, I would wait the few seconds it took him to get frustrated because he wasn’t attached to my breast anymore) and then let him latch on again.  I did this every time he bit me for three days.

To be honest, at the end of the three days, I was sore, afraid to nurse and pretty much ready to give up on breastfeeding because it didn’t seem like the message was getting through to my son.  Remembering, however, reading about someone else’s woes regarding her breastfeeding situation where someone suggested that it was never a good idea to decide to quit when you were feeling annoyed, I decided to see if there was something else I could do to help things along.  I figured that I would make up my mind when I felt rested and relaxed and could really think through the pros and cons.

I therefore turned to the wonderful ladies in the breastfeeding support group of Baby Center.  They offered many suggestions which I would like to share with you!

1.  Once you say “no” and latch your baby off, give him something to chew on for a couple of minutes.

2. Give her something to chew on 10-20 min before nursing.

3. Don’t act like you’re in pain because some babies find that funny.

4. Put him in his crib or on the floor when you gt him to unlatch and walk out of the room for 30 sec or so that way he doesn’t associate biting with getting extra attention and a fun reaction from mommy.

5. Be consistent with what you say and do when she bites, chances are she doesn’t even realize that she’s biting the first times.

6. Instead of breaking the seal yourself, bring his face close to your breast so that he unlatches himself.

I suspect that what works depends on your baby’s age and personality.

Ironically, since posting that thread, my son has stopped biting (and his top teeth have finally cut today!).

How did you handle nursing a teething baby?

Posted in Parenting

Oh No, Not Again!

Guess what?

Yeah, my son had another reaction to something he ate.  *Pulls out hair*.  I swear, I’m going to have to invest in benadryl stocks…

Of course, now I’m getting paranoid, so, naturally, I’ve been doing some reading on food allergies.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

–  It generally takes a few exposures before the body has an immune response to a food that was consumed (which explains why my son seemed fine the first time but then broke in to hives the second or third time).

– 90% of food allergies are caused by an item from the “top 8”: cow’s milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish and wheat

– Don’t assume that a reaction to a certain food will always present itself in the same way (which means that “just” because my son has been breaking into hives, doesn’t mean his body can’t eventually have a more severe reaction like anaphylaxis).

– Symptoms might appear a few minutes (hives) after eating an offending food, or many hours after (eczema).  This sent off a light bulb moment in my head.  You see, my son has had eczema pretty much from day 1.  Therefore, it is entirely possible that he’s been reacting to what I’ve been eating through my milk!

– If a parent has a personal history of allergies (seasonal allergies, eczema, food allergies, asthma) their child has a greater risk of developing an allergic condition.  In our case, dad has no allergies but I have seasonal allergies and have developed an asthmatic reaction to cats when I was in my preteen years.  It has mostly disappeared now, but I still keep my inhalers just in case.  This surprised me, because I thought that he would only be at risk if either his father or I had food allergies, which we don’t.

– Many children outgrow their allergies to foods other than peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

Now, I’ve been communicating with a couple of mommas on a food allergy board, both of which suggested that I get my hands on an epipen for my son after seeing how widespread his reaction was when we initially went out to buy some benadryl.

So, where does that leave me?

1.  I need to call his pediatrician’s office again to see if she can write Little Dude a script for an epipen.

2.  Keep up the food log and take note of the other more subtle signs of an allergy.

3.  Keep a food log for myself and see how what I eat affects his eczema.

4. Call the allergy department of the hospital again to see if I can convince them that my son is more important than all of the other children that have an appointment before him to move up my son’s appointment before I run out of things to feed him.

5.  Become “that annoying mom that’s always calling” until I get answers.

Sound like a good plan?

 

Posted in BLW

Oh The Mess: Adventures In Baby-Led Weaning

Today my son officially turned 6 months!  Where have these past months gone, I wonder.

It was also the day of a huge milestone: SOLIDS!

We’d been preparing for this day for quite a while now; reading up on the different ways to introduce solids, then reading up on BLW once we figured out that it was what we wanted to do, including Charles at the table when he wasn’t napping…

For his first meal I offered him a warm salad made with red quinoa with mashed roasted garlic, sautéed orange bell peppers and fresh chopped cilantro.  I also gave him the opportunity to taste some avocado and gave him a loaded spoon of coconut yogurt for him to taste if he wanted.  Notice the key words: offered, gave the opportunity and if he wanted.  That is one of the beautiful things of BLW in my opinion, you never force your baby to eat, but offer food and model what to do with it.

I could go on and on about our first meal, however a picture is worth a thousand words…

Posted in Infant, Parenting

Breastfeeding With Teeth (His, Not Mine)

I’ve recently started to wonder when I’d start to wean my son off the breast.  You see, when I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to at least try to breastfeed.  I say “try” because I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself if it didn’t work out and didn’t want to feel like a failure if I ended up resorting to formula from the start.  As I’ve discussed previously, my desire to breastfeed wasn’t just based on the fact that research shows that it has many health benefits both for mom and baby, but also because I found it more practical and definitely less expensive.

I was thrilled when my milk came in and my son thrived (and is still thriving) on my milk.  It fills me with pride every day to see my “little chunkster”, as I call him, continue to grow and develop so well on “mommy milk”.

With my first goal of trying (and succeeding) to breastfeed met, I decided to set another goal.  I figured that I would exclusively breastfeed at least six months (the suggested minimal amount of time) and then start weaning right away.  However, as time went by, I realized that I really treasured the time I spent nursing my son (even if it wasn’t always easy), and so, I decided that I would continue past six months but would stop when he had teeth.  Well, now that he has teeth (very ouchy teeth, I should say) and is nearing the six month mark, I find myself needing to reevaluate my goal.

To be honest, I’m not ready to give up breastfeeding yet and, as the time for solids approaches, I’m feeling both the natural excitement at seeing my son reach another milestone and a sadness at the fact that I will no longer be his only source of nourishment.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know that milk will still be his primary source of nourishment until he is a year old “food before one is just for fun”, but still, he won’t be getting just milk…

It would seem that I am in need of a new goal…

Now you see, my official day back at work is on August 26th.  At that time, Little Dude will be just past the 9 month mark.  He’ll be staying with his dad for the last week of August and first week of September and then will start daycare.  What want to say is that I’ll keep breastfeeding until mid-August and then start introducing formula.  The fact of the matter is, I just don’t think that I will have the energy necessary to pump to make it to one year.  I think that I want to continue to nurse when it’s feeding time and I’m at home, but will give formula to the sitter and his father.

Sounds like a plan!

Except there’s something tugging at the back of my brain…

  • Me: “It’s a logical decision, I’m totally OK with it”.
  • My brain: “Are you sure?  I mean, you could pump”.
  • Me: “You’re right, but I don’t think I’ll have the energy to pump”.
  • My brain: “It’s just for three months, I’m sure you’ll find the energy”.
  • Me: “You don’t understand, my job is tough”.
  • My brain: “But you’ll only be working part-time.  Besides, breast milk is free and formula is expensive”.

Me: “I know, I know”.

*Bleh*, seems I haven’t made up my mind after all.

Oh well, *sigh* guess I’ll just have to take it one day at a time.

Posted in Infant, Parenting

Yup, I’m Thinking About It: Baby-Led Weaning!

Step 1: Give the baby milk.

Step 2: Give the baby cereal.

Step 3: Give the baby smooth purées.

Step 4: Give the baby lumpy purées.

Step 5: Give the baby finger foods.

Seriously?  As if there weren’t enough steps that went into raising a child.  Not that I mind, but wouldn’t it be simpler if we could just skip the cereal and texture-less, tasteless purées?

Well, with baby-led weaning (BLW) you can!

What is BLW?

Baby Led Weaning, quite simply, means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning. […] * re ‘wean’. This is meant in the Brit sense, not the American. In the UK, ‘weaning’ means ‘adding complementary foods’, whereas in the States it means ‘giving up breastfeeding’.

http://www.babyledweaning.com/

Basically, you give your child adequately-sized pieces  of food (a stick size that is long enough to protrude from your baby’s closed fist or chip size) and allow them to learn to grab it, put it in their mouth, gum (or bite) down on it, chew it, and swallow it.  The basic idea behind BLW is that if your child is able to do all this, then it is a surefire sign that s/he is developmentally ready to eat that particular food.

We are told that it is important to follow our children’s cues.  So why wouldn’t we take the same approach with solids?  You see, BLW enthusiasts argue that since we trust our little ones to roll over, crawl, walk when ready that it goes to reason that we should also trust them to eat when ready because playing airplane to force a loaded spoon into a baby’s mouth  hardly seems like following a baby’s cues.

Advantages and Disadvantages

According to Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, authors of Baby-Led Weaning, The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grop Up a Happy and Confident Eater, there are many advantages to using this approach (pages 20-28):

  • Learning to eat safely: by allowing your child to explore the food with their hands before it goes in their mouths allows them to judge size and texture and may contribute in lowering the chances for him/her to choke once it is in their mouth.
  • Learning about his/her world: when the food is being manipulated by your baby, it becomes a learning tool that exploits all five senses.  For instance, your baby can see the white and yellow part of a banana, can feel how easily it can be squished and how slippery the inside of it is, can smell its odor and taste its flavor and hear that there is no crunch.
  • Trusting food: It would seem that BLW babies may be less reluctant to try out new foods because they are ultimately in control of what they put in their mouths.  Quite amazingly, it has happened in many instances that a baby would reject a certain food (ie: not even trying it or trying it once but not wanting to touch it again) and his/her parents would learn later on that their little one had an allergy or intolerance to the particular food.
  • Appetite control: Because your baby is in charge of what s/he wants to eat, s/he is also in control of how much s/he want to eat.  In BLW, there is no forcing a child to eat “just another bite”.  Because they are allowed to decide when they are done eating, it allows them to listen to their body’s cues and can be a contributing factor to reducing the risk of overeating and obesity in adulthood.
  • Easier, less complicated meals: With BLW, there is no need to prepare purées in advance or heat them.  Since your baby is included in mealtimes and their food doesn’t have to be reduced to mush, they can eat  what the rest of the family is eating (plus, their food doesn’t have to be bland, it can be seasoned!).  Because of this, eating out is easier as well.

As for the disadvantages, well, it would seem that BLW is a very messy process, especially at first when your baby is still exploring and hasn’t figured out that these new ‘toys’ actually serve to fill up his/her belly.

Of course, as with any method, there are always two sides to the proverbial coin.  As such, some caution against using this method.

But, won’t my baby choke?

^^This, is the first thing that popped into my mind when I first started reading up on solids and came across the world of BLW.  However, from what I’ve read (mind you, from the biased point of view of those who actually do BLW), the risk of choking is smaller than it is for babies who were fed purées.

But why?

Well, in a nutshell, babies who are fed purées learn to swallow before they learn to chew, whereas in BLW babies, it is the opposite.  Furthermore, since the gag reflex is triggered further down the mouth as our little ones grow, they will have less time to push out a piece of food that is too large than a younger child..

But BLW enthusiasts warn that your baby will gag as s/he learns to move food from the front of his/her mouth to the back of his/her mouth.  They also say that though it is alarming at first, that it is important to not panic and to allow your child to get the food out of their mouth themselves.  It is also important to keep in mind that your baby has to be in control at all times because if an adult (or ‘helpful’ toddler) tries to feed your baby by bringing the food to their mouth for them, then the potential for chocking is multiplied (think about how you’d react is another person tried to shove a piece of food in your mouth).

This all makes sense to me and so I decided that this is the approach I wanted to go with.

When do I know that my baby is ready?

  • Though some pediatricians give parents the green light to start solids when their baby is 4 months old, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization caution against the introduction to solids (ie: anything other than breastmilk or formula) before the age of 6 months.  Before 6 months, it would seem, the stomach just isn’t ready to process solids.

Furthermore, your baby should:

  • Be able to sit up well without support
  • Have lost the tongue-thrust reflex
  • Attempt to grab food and put it in his/her mouth
  • Be able to reach out, grab things and bring them to his/her mouth quickly and accurately

What do you think about BLW?  Have you tried it, do you plan to?  How did introducing solids with your children go?

Related posts

Little Foodie (theamazingmoores.wordpress.com)

Drink (and food!) (stumblingthroughparenting.wordpress.com)

Posted in Infant

Bawling Bedtime Brawl

I’m an insomniac.  I’ve been fighting to fall asleep ever since my early teens.  I’ve had some good periods, periods that have given me a shard of hope that I may have finally gotten over the insomnia.  But it was not to be.  In the days following the arrival of my son, I was so sleep-deprived and exhausted that I had no issues falling asleep.  But it did not last.  Gone are the days where I could fall asleep quickly when I went to bed and fall back asleep without issue after a middle of the night nursing session despite my “non-snoring” boyfriend”s seamless imitation of some type of motor.

As for my son, well, he does not fight to fall asleep.  No, he battles sleep.  He seems to do everything in his power to remain awake and, when my partner or I are finally able to help him fall asleep, it is only to have him wake up and fuss as soon as he hits the mattress of his crib.  I love the little bugger, but after two weeks of this, he is very quickly eroding any sanity and self-confidence I have left.

You might recall that I started my son on E.A.S.Y. when he turned seven weeks.  Simultaneously, I started swaddling him again.  I had a new baby, on that would give me three 90 minute naps and one 45 minute nap per day.  It was great!  He was in an awesome mood.  Both of our lives had become more predictable and I found it easier to manage motherhood with a three hour schedule.   Life was good.

And then, about two days before he turned three months old, all hell broke loose.  I’ve already posted on his three month growth spurt, so I won’t detail it again here.  Suffices to say, he didn’t sleep much.  I naively thought that when he would get back to normal when he finished his spurt; I had forgotten that my son made a point of changing things up each time I figured him out.  Well, now, he’s gone from being a great napper to being a crap-napper cat-napper. For the past week, I can consider that I’m having a good day when he naps for two hours total.

The E.A.S.Y. routine has worked so well that now he knows exactly when he’s going down for a nap or for bedtime.  As soon as he starts yawning and rubbing his eyes, I bring him to his room.  As soon as we are in his room, he starts crying his head off.  And we’re not talking about a small whimper cry.  Oh no!  We’re talking full-blown-red-faced-scream-myself-hoarse cry.  Of course, the same is true for bedtime.  He’ll go from fussy at the breast for his last nursing session, to calm and smiling while I undress him and his father runs his bath, to happy while he’s in the bath and then BAM as soon as his father takes him out of the tub, he starts screaming his head off.  Holy, am I glad to not be in an apartment building anymore; I’m sure the neighbors would call child services!

I don’t know what to think right now.  What I do know is that he seems to be going through a transition phase.  He is at a point where he cannot be swaddled anymore because he breaks out of it all the time.  He seems to want to learn to self-soothe because he is always spitting out his pacifier and sucking on his hands.  However, we need to put mitts on his hands when he goes to bed because otherwise he’ll scratch his face up pretty badly even though I trim and file down the darned things every other day.

What to do, what to do?