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Saying Goodbye to Cheese! : Going Dairy Free for Baby

My daughter, Hazel, was seven months old when I finally realized she had a dairy sensitivity. She was not gaining weight and stopped following her growth curve. I had noticed it earlier, but it is almost too easy to brush certain feelings aside when you’re busy and stressed (aka parenting).

Our breastfeeding journey had a rocky start, to say the least. Because of that, she has always been petite. It wasn’t until the skin on the inside of her elbows and knees turned bright red and raw that I was clued into something being not quite right. Actually, if I could be honest with you, I had even convinced myself that the redness was due to chafing in the 100 degree August temperatures.

After a series of events including one inconsolable, sleepless night while on vacation, I finally decided to eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet just to see if it would help. I even went soy free and egg free for a couple weeks. I was one starving, unhappy camper going through withdrawals from ice cream and cheese. It’s amazing the things you will do for your children!

Cheese Dairy Sensitivity

For 5 Long Months, I Dreamed of Cheese

Luckily, her eczema cleared up, and she started gaining weight. Over time, I slowly reintroduced different foods into my diet until it became clear that dairy alone was the culprit. When she turned one and was at a good place in her baby-led weaning, we decided to try the dairy ladder.

The dairy ladder consists of sloooowwwwly adding dairy into the child’s diet by increasing the amount and decreasing the heating/cooking time with each ladder rung. My daughter has made it all the way to regular cheese without a reaction. Soon she’ll be trying cow’s milk for the first time. I have also been able to add dairy back into my diet. Hallelujah!

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s a few helpful tips to help you get through! 

6 “Fun” Facts About Dairy Sensitivities

1.There are 5 signs in children that could help you diagnose a dairy sensitivity. Of course, if you suspect anything might be wrong, always consult your doctor. 

  • Fussiness, excessive crying, sleeping issues
  • Eczema, rash, hives, dry skin
  • Congestion, ear infections
  • Vomiting, mucousy stools, constipation, diarrhea
  • Weight issues

2. Sensitive babies react to the dairy proteins in mom’s breast milk. 

3. Dairy sensitive babies can react the same way to formula, which makes it difficult to just switch the BF baby unless you use a hypoallergenic formula.

4. Children tend to grow out of their dairy sensitivity between one to three years old as they are often having issues with the protein size and are not lactose intolerant.

5. Expect to wait anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks to see an improvement after removing dairy from mom’s diet.

6. Dairy is in everything mamas! Be sure to check every single label; you will be surprised. Even some wine has added dairy so if your little one is super sensitive only drink vegan wine to be safe.

Despite being beyond difficult, going dairy free for five months was one of the best things I have done since becoming a mom. My daughter is now thriving, and I have kicked some unhealthy dietary crutches to the curb.

Did you have a child with Dairy Sensitivities? What did your experience look like? 

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