Disclaimer: I’m going to talk about baby poop.
Back around January Goober started getting regular bouts of diarrhea. At first it wasn’t a big deal, I’d heard babies have all sorts of weird poop for a variety of reasons. We chalked it up to teething and moved on. Then it happened again in February. Again in March. April. May. Each time he’d have an episode, it would last at least ten days. We blamed foods. We blamed teething. There was a bug going around. And on and on. The baby-sitter would get ticked off (understandably), thinking we were going to infect the other kids. I’d take off at least one day a month for this. Every time the diarrhea flared up, I’d call the nurse line at the pediatrician’s office and every time they’d tell me to do the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) for a few days (but not more than three days, because that would mess with his vitamins) and to remove dairy (but not his milk based formula, because that shouldn’t bother him.) Our parents kept telling us it was teething, even when he wasn’t teething.
I was fed up. The pediatrician’s office wasn’t concerned, but they weren’t dealing with a baby who pooped straight liquid 5 times a day. They didn’t have to pay $150/week to a baby-sitter who couldn’t watch the baby 25% of the time. They weren’t trying to soothe a FLAMING diaper rash that persisted for two weeks and made diaper changes so painful. We cloth diaper, but we usually used disposables during the diarrhea to avoid ruining the diapers with some seriously FOUL smells. I knew it wasn’t a bug every time. He was too playful and happy and hungry for it to be a bug. Time’s up, pediatrician FAIL, somebody GIVE ME A SPECIALIST.
Our first trip to the Pediatric GI Specialist (henceforth referred to as PGIS) was just about them hearing our story. The PGIS confirmed that what was going on was not normal (THANK YOU JEEBUS, I’M NOT CRAZY). She ordered some blood tests and an xray and made us an appointment for two weeks later, when the tests would be back.
(Side note: Ever had to hold down your 1 year old while someone draws FOUR VIALS of blood? Less than pleasant, not gonna lie!)
2 weeks later, we returned. We were happy to learn that he did not have Celiac’s Disease (AMEN) and no signs of any serious digestive failures or blockages (HALLELUJAH). The suspicion was a milk intolerance. They were shocked to realize that our pediatrician had never tried doing a complete removal of milk. Tons of babies have milk intolerances, so this is usually a first step when a child that young has recurrent diarrhea. Go figure. We were placed on a 30 day dairy hiatus. No milk, no yogurt (sob), no cheese (SOB), no soy. Huh? Apparently 50% of children with a milk intolerance are also intolerant of soy. ([shooting star]The more you know…) The PGIS also put Goober on a daily vitamin supplement drink (think dairy-free Pediasure) and a daily pro-biotic, to help his tiny gut heal up from the 6 months of ravaging diarrhea.
Now I don’t know about your kids, but in our son’s world, Dairy is King. Switching from cow’s milk to almond milk/rice milk/coconut milk was easy enough, but the idea that there is no yogurt? Blasphemy. No grilled cheese/quesadilla/mac ‘n cheese for lunch? What the hell is he going to eat?? For us, turned out it was a great time to introduce peanut butter. Luckily he had no reaction to that, so that’s been a lunch staple. Dinner is pretty easy, he just eats what we eat: meat, veggie, grain. We did have to alter some of our own habits, avoid cream/cheese based foods. It just seemed mean to eat them in front of him when he couldn’t eat those foods. Another thing that helped us was that Hubby started watching him during the day around this time, so we didn’t have to convince a baby-sitter to edit the typical menu.
Today we had our 1 month follow-up appointment. 30 days since we quit dairy and he hasn’t had a single episode of diarrhea. It appears dairy has been the culprit all along. So what now? According to the PGIS, most young children with dairy intolerances grow out of it by age 2. In the meantime, we will slowly try to add in up to 3 servings daily of dairy products (yogurt/cheese/ice cream.) If he tolerates these, they will provide enough calcium/Vitamin D that we can stop the expensive vitamin supplement drink. Why not straight milk? According to the PGIS, the dairy proteins that are in milk are more broken down (read: more easily digestible) in the production process of those products than they are in straight up milk. What happens if he doesn’t tolerate those products? Then we go back to the PGIS to strategize how we get him his much needed vitamins until his 2nd birthday. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. We are more than ready to bring FroYo back into our lives!!