I’ll kick off this blog post by saying that this is going to be purely about our experience with Lucy and her allergy to cows milk protein. I’m not a dietitian, we haven’t even been to one yet with her so I’m mainly going to talk about how we came about figuring out Lucy’s problem and what we are doing based purely on advice I have picked up from online, dietitians that have helped me through the blog and friends who have similar experience. If you want to read some more scientific articles on CMPA, Caroline from Solid Start, a Cork based Dietitian who specialises in nutrition in babies and kids, sent me on these two links which are excellent reads for those curious about the allergy. The first is a detailed introduction to CMPA and the second looks at the best alternatives to cows milk for babies and children. So first things first I’ll go back to the start – Lucy was breastfed (with the odd bottle) until she was 6 months old and we didn’t notice anything untoward when I was feeding her, as in she never showed signs of any major discomfort based on the foods I ate. Then we moved her to formula and again, we didn’t notice anything untoward, no obvious signs of discomfort, nappies were normal and no rashes. Now she was always a bad sleeper but really we blamed that on the fact that her naps were always all over the place, I blamed it on breastfeeding if I’m honest and even now looking back there’s no reason to believe she was uncomfortable and waking because she was ‘suffering’ from the ill effects of milk if that makes sense.
Then last October when she turned 1 we began the switch over to cows milk, gradually as I’ve always done, it was first introduced in her porridge from about 9 months and then into her bottles from 12 months. And that’s when the rash started. Mild at first and of course I put it down to teething, I asked a few pharmacists at the time and they agreed or alternatively suggested the cold weather as the cause. People suggested wipes too but having used them on the other girls faces previously and experiencing how sensitive they were to wipes I never used them on Lucy’s face. (I couldn’t find a single picture with Lucy’s face with the rash on it, here it is with a hint of it!). Most of the time when I asked for advice from pharmacists, doctors and nurses I was offered a solution to the rash like a moisturiser but I knew I needed to find the root cause of the rash and I kept saying to my husband I thought it was the milk. The rash got pretty bad, it was really red on her cheeks and chin, and to the point where people would look at her and ask what was wrong. So in the end I just decided to cut out the milk based purely on my own suspicions.
We switched her to soya milk, honestly I didn’t research the other alternatives I just knew that in general soya was a decent milk replacement. I switched her completely right away, she never noticed the difference and I would say that within 48 hours the entire rash was completely gone. And since that we haven’t changed anything. We give her soya milk (we use the growing up one which has added calcium), soya yogurts, we just don’t give her cheese. We also don’t give her goats milk or yogurts because she has a similar reaction (the protein in goats milk is about 90% the same as the cows milk protein as far as I’m aware).
If by accident we give her milk we know about it, she gets a touch of a rash around her cheeks and I won’t even mention the nappies….where is that vomiting emoji face when you need it! She would also tend to get a little chesty and have a runny nose for about a week after having any milk. (FYI that is jam on her face!). Our next step is to introduce her to the milk ladder (read more about it here) and to focus on getting as much healthy fat into her for her development. So I try to give her plenty avocado, houmous, poached eggs and I try to add nuts to my baking. I’ve also started giving her an Omega 3.6.9 supplement which has added Vitamin D and E. I also got her the Pure butter which is dairy free and made using sunflower oil.
The aim of this blog post is to just give people an idea of how CMPA affected Lucy and what we do now to avoid dairy. We are still very new to the complex world of allergies, this is the first time we’ve encountered anything like it. So I’m still learning but by all means if people have any questions by all means ask me but whether I’ll be in a position to provide a solid answer I’m not sure!