When my first born child was around four months old, her poop began to change. I think Google searching what your baby’s poop looks like is something every parent does at some point, but when her strange diapers didn’t clear up after a few weeks, and then we began to find blood in her diapers, we knew something wasn’t quite right.
We took our daughter to our family doctor, who diagnosed her with a Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA). CMPA is a fairly uncommon condition, occurring in only around 2-3% of babies. The baby’s body reacts negatively to the proteins found in cow’s milk (and products containing cow’s milk). However, much to our surprise, this condition didn’t just affect our baby. Our daughter couldn’t consume any product containing cow’s milk proteins, but at four months old, she wasn’t consuming anything other than chestmilk, so where was she being exposed to her allergen? This is how we learned that cow’s milk protein can actually transfer through chestmilk. This meant that not only would she be unable to consume anything containing dairy, it meant that if I wanted to continue to feed her my milk, I couldn’t consume it either.
Switching to a dairy-free diet was incredibly overwhelming at first. Once you start looking for milk products on the ingredients of your favorite snacks, you realize very quickly that it’s in pretty much everything, and it goes by many different names.
Some ingredients are obvious; milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, cream (heavy cream, sour cream), ice cream… but others are less easy to recognize, such as whey, lactose, or casein.
With my husband’s help, we screened ingredients and switched over products I used frequently with dairy-free alternatives. As the years have gone by, dairy-free foods and alternatives have become increasingly more common, making it much easier to eat dairy-free than before.
Eating out can be quite difficult, and often I would choose vegan restaurants or restaurants with vegan options to make things easier. When I couldn’t choose vegan, I would always be sure to search up the ‘Allergy Menu’ of the restaurant we would be eating at, so that I could pre-plan what I would be able to eat, and save myself the time spend searching for an allergy-friendly meal while sitting in the restaurant.
Luckily, many infants with CMPA grow out of their allergies, and this was the case for my daughter. We successfully reintroduced dairy into my, and then her diet, when she was 11 months old. Since then, my toddler son (who did not have CMPA as a baby) has been diagnosed with a milk allergy, and I find myself thankful that because of my experiences with my daughter, I have the knowledge I need to help him and our family avoid his allergen.
Common Symptoms of CMPA:
Not all babies will have every symptom of a CMPA. My own daughter only had gastrointestinal symptoms.
My favourite dairy-free alternatives
Milk Not Milk
Butter Earth Balance, Becel Margarine (Vegan)
Yogurt Riviera Coconut, Silk Soy Yogurt
Ice Cream SoDelicious, Sno Dairy-Free
Creamer Silk Vanilla Creamer, Milk’s Own Barista Oat
Cheese Daiya, VioLife
Sour Cream Daiya
Cream Cheese Tofutti Cream Cheese
Whipping Cream Silk Heavy Cream, SoDelicious CocoWhip
Cheese Sauce Daiya
Snacks EnjoyLife, MadeGood
Local Restaurants: You can make your life easier when eating out by choosing vegan restaurants or restaurants that offer vegan options. Here are some of my favorites:
Bliss Baked Goods
Bloom Cookie Co.
Kind Ice Cream
Made by Marcus
Sweet Pea Cafe (this cafe has a cute play area for kids too!)
Love to hear your favourites, comment below.
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