So if you read my breastfeeding journey, you know that Luca ended up being intolerant to dairy, which was a huge struggle for me and him. If you are up against this or just might think it could be an issue and have decided to continue nursing, then here is all the information that I wish I knew in the beginning. This isn’t our normal blog post. It is very informational so just find the sections that apply to you. I hope it helps! Note: all of this is information that I heard through my journey so it may not be the most scientifically accurate explanation. I highly encourage you to do your own research.
What made me think there was an issue with dairy?
Dairy issues can show up in two different ways when breastfeeding, GI (or stomach) issues and skin issues. For us, the issue was stomach related. Around 2-3 weeks, Luca began screaming non-stop from late afternoon until late into the night. He didn’t seem overly fussy throughout the day and I assumed his gas was normal but it became clear something was off. After doing a lot of googling, which is normally very dangerous, I decide to see if cutting dairy would help.
Allergy vs. Intolerance:
Both of these can have similar symptoms so it is difficult to tell (unless your child is anaphylactic). Medically, the difference is that an intolerance is your digestive system having an issue with the food, while an allergy is your immune system fighting against a food. Most newborns that are having issues with dairy have an intolerance and a very high percent grow out of it by age 1 and even more by age 3. My son had an intolerance and grew out of his dairy intolerance around 1.
How did I determined dairy was our issue?
I think it is important to do some type of test to see if dairy is the issue, otherwise, you will forever question cutting dairy. I tested by cutting ALL dairy for two weeks. I capitalize “all” because this does not only mean milk, cheese, butter, etc. This includes all the hidden dairy as well (I will include a list of words to look for in the ingredients at the end). After being dairy free for two weeks, I returned to my normal (dairy filled) diet for a weekend. I quickly saw symptoms return that I hadn’t even realized had gone away. He whined while breastfeeding, screamed at night, became much more fussy during the day, and had loose green dirty diapers.
Things I wish I knew before going Dairy Free:
- Your first week is the hardest. It will get easier even though you will want to cry every day in the first week or two!
- Non-Dairy does not mean Dairy Free! Some Non-Dairy items are dairy free but legally companies can claim “non-dairy” if it is lactose free, which leads me to the next point
- Lactose Free does not mean dairy free. Lactose is the sugar in milk and is not the issue. Your breast milk has 10 times the amount of lactose that cows milk has. The cow protein is the issue, not the lactose.
- Seeing that the cow protein is the issue, the questions that normally follow are- Does this mean, I can’t have beef? Or does this mean I can have goat cheese? Most kids that have issues with cow protein can still tolerate beef. I believe the statistic is that only about 10% have issue with beef. And the opposite is true about the goat protein. Most kids that can’t tolerate cow protein also cannot tolerate goat protein.
- Check every single ingredient list. Even if you think there is no way in the world that something has dairy- check it!
- Many ingredient lists have “May contain” or “Contains” statements. “Contains Milk” means there is absolutely cow protein in the food, avoid it. “May contain” means that the factory has cow protein in it and unless your child is severely allergic then it should be fine. If there is no statement that says “contains” or “may contain” it DOES NOT mean that there is no cow protein so check the ingredients on those. Legally they do not have to put a “contains” statement, either way I would always refer to the ingredients list.
- It will take 8 weeks for your little to be completely healed from the dairy. 2 weeks to get out of your system, 2 weeks to get out of baby’s system and then 4 weeks for their guts to heal. So if you are still having some symptoms, it could be the detox period. However, if you are concerned about another food, start keeping a food journal where you track everything you eat and any symptoms baby may have. If there is a second intolerance, you will see a pattern emerge!
Suggestions that made it easier for me:
- I kept a list of foods that I would eat as soon as baby was weaned or overcame the intolerance! This made adding dairy back into my diet more fun but also helped in the moment because I knew I would remember everything I had missed out on.
- Cheese-less pizza is actually pretty good! Definitely good enough to help with a craving. Papa John’s is one of the chains that has a dairy free crust and sauce.
- Figure out what you miss the most and find a good substitute for it. Feel free to email or comment to ask for help on this
- Most chains (especially fast food) have allergen menus online. Just google the name of the place with “allergen menu” following and it should tell you all the items you can have.
- When you are eating out (if the restaurant doesn’t have an allergen menu online) call ahead and speak to a manager about your options. It will make your eating out experiences much less stressful and decrease risk of getting ‘dairied’.
Snacks that helped me survive: Note, please check all foods before eating even if on this list. Companies can change their ingredients!
- Wheat thins dipped in peanut butter and sprinkled with Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
- Thomas Blueberry Bagels with Kite Hill cream cheese (almond based cream cheese but delicious)
- Pressed By Kind- Strawberry and dark chocolate bars
- Annie’s Cinnamon Rolls
- Avocado toast with bacon on top
- Peanut butter toast (add some enjoy life chocolate chips for an extra treat)
- Guacamole or Hummus (there are even types of dessert hummus!)
- Tons of brands have dairy free ice cream
- Cape Cod Original Chips (check any other flavors because many have milk)
- Homemade rice crispy treats made with dairy free butter or coconut oil
- Frozen grapes
- Homemade Peanut Butter ‘Milk’Shake: Blend half of a frozen banana, a large spoonful of PB, chocolate almond milk, chia seeds, enjoy life chocolate chips, and some ice.
- Oreos (yes, it’s true!)
Okay, that is a lot of information! There is so much more I could share but this is the big stuff for starting out. If you are interested in more information please let me know in the comments or by emailing me! I would be happy to speak with you directly or even write a second post if I get a lot of the same questions!