Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Take Two

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago (see here) Emerson did not have a good first experience with solid food.  She broke out in major hives, was crying and uncomfortable, and generally hated the whole experience.  For about two months now, she's had the worst rash all over her face.  I've done everything possible to make it go away-- using hydrocortisone cream on the really bad areas (as per dr's orders), moisturizing with glaxal base cream several times a day, washing all of her clothes and bedding with super sensitive detergent and rinsing everything twice... anything that I could think of.  The rash has gotten better, but it's still there.  Emerson's been to the doctor a few times regarding the issue and he suggested that I hold off on giving her any solids until she could get in to see an allergy specialist.  So, we've been waiting.  We finally met with the specialist yesterday, and we've got some answers!  He did some allergy testing and determined that Emerson's allergic to dairy and peanuts.  The doctor was actually quite surprised at how severely she reacted when the tests were conducted-- especially when you consider that she's had such little contact with any sort of food.  I suspected that she may be allergic to something, but I didn't think it would be this serious.  There aren't really a whole lot of allergies in our family-- Caleb has asthma and is allergic to pet hair/fur, I also am allergic to most pet hair, hay, and taking out the trash... and as far as I can see Doug is only allergic to making the bed.  But, we're going to have to make a few changes at our house.  We'll be tossing our peanut butter and I will be putting myself on a dairy-free diet as I'm still breastfeeding.... goodbye cheese... *tear*

I do feel a bit sad for my little lady... but I am also relieved to have some answers!  I managed to find a dairy-free rice cereal at Superstore and gave it to Emerson for the first time yesterday.  Success!!  She LOVED it.  She was so happy and wanted to keep eating and eating.... and best of all... no hives!!  I was so proud of her.

If any of you moms out there have experience with dairy or peanut allergies... I would like your advice!  What are the best dairy substitutes?  Any good recipes or resources I should check out?  Help and suggestions would be much appreciated!


Unknown said...

I feel for you. Joel's allergic to milk, peanuts, eggs and bananas. And I have been allergic to peanuts since I was a baby too. Not fun!! But you do get used to it. Luckily milk is the most likely for kids to grow out of!!

KDees said...

Wow, that's tough pill to swallow. I'm glad you guys got some answers and that you're able to make the adjustments to your family's diet easily and quickly.

kelly ens said...

So glad you were able to find out what the allergies were and that she loves her dairy-free cereal! :)
don't worry...your dairy-free diet will not last forever, so you won't have to say 'bye' to cheese altogether :)

Erica said...

Emmy looks quite pleased with her cereal spoon!

Gord and Andrea said...

i am so glad you have it figured out - it is always better to just know :) the best almond butter is at trader joes... it is the almond and flaxseed and i think it has a green lid. they also have almond breeze milk which is obviously lactose free but also soy free and it has 30% of your daily calcium per glass and it is a FRACTION of the price down there. we don't use soy cheeses. gord is allergic to the protein in cow dairy and not the lactose so we eat sheep and goat cheese. but if you are allowed to have dairy from goat and sheep there is A LOT of really yummy cheese. of course... i find all of this at trader joe's :)

Charlotte said...

Hey Elissa, I went off dairy for Isaiah and have recently introduced it back into my diet. My most favorite butter substitute is coconut oil (the expeller pressed not virgin). If it is virgin coconut oil it will say "virgin" and it will taste very much like coconut. I prefer the more tasteless stuff. It is EXCELLENT on popcorn and I frequently use it on my toast. I have also used it to make biscuits with good results though you could use shortening as well. Read the margarine labels carefully - I found they all had either "whey" or "casein" which are both dairy products. After one or two disgusting trials of fake cheese I gave up - though recently I tried using nutritional yeast flakes instead of parmesan cheese in a recipe and was pleasantly surprised how yummy it was :D. For drinking milk, I believe it's all a matter of personal preference. I am allergic to soy milk and with Isaiah, since he wasn't actually tested for allergies, I was avoiding major allergens which meant no soy or any nuts including almond milk. I stuck to diluted coconut milk (with some real maple syrup added) or hemp milk. There are soooo many options and brands out there - you'll probably just have to try them and see what you prefer for yourself.
For recipes, a good resource is or simply google dairy free recipes...many of the hits will be vegan sites since they don't use any dairy at all. I found some great recipes on and would be happy to send you links to my favorites. :D
Another resource I very highly recommend is - it is the best evidence-based breastfeeding resource/on-line community I know of. If you go to "forums" you can scroll down to "Allergies" and read/gain support from other moms who are breastfeeding babies with allergies. I have gained sooo much valuable info and insight by simply reading their regular forums but I have also signed in (for free) and asked my own questions and found them to be super helpful.

HUGS! It is definitely overwhelming at first until you settle into your new "normal". One of the biggest challenges for me was feeling hungry all-the-time!

anyways...hope that helps! Feel free to message me on facebook or email me if you want.

Charlotte said...

Oh! and superstore's president's choice "The Decadent semi-sweet chocolate chips are dairy free :D

Anonymous said...

Uncle Mel will be so disappointed!

Auntie "B"

Sabrina said...

I am totally jealous that you have gotten in to see an allergist already! We were referred at when Indie was 7 months, and she is only seeing the allergist the week of her 1st birthday.

I've been dairy (and mostly soy) free for the last 8 months. No cheese. No ice cream...all the good stuff gone :( Though there is a soy and dairy free cheese at health food stores here - Daiya cheese I think it is. I buy almond milk and use it in place of all regular milk - I get the unsweetened original (and it's cheapest here at Bulk Barn, $2.79/litre). It substitutes fine in baking, and I've even used it in butter chicken and it's turned out fine. Earth's Balance has a dairy (and a dairy/soy free) margarine too, which isn't quite as nice as the real stuff - but totally works.

The biggest kicker? No cream in coffee and no fancy coffees at Starbucks. I've learned to drink it black, and make my own lattes with almond milk at home. It might feel daunting at first, but it gets normal pretty quick.

Good luck!!

Dan and Lynn said...

That's great that you were able to get her to a specialist and figure out exactly what she's allergic to. Hope her rash starts to heal now that you know what to avoid! We don't have any dairy allergies in our house, so I don't have any recommendations for you. But I hope you're able to find some tasty alternatives!

Bonnie said...

We see the specialist for Callie in June. She had a SEVERE reaction to peanuts just after she turned one... you may remember me blogging about it... so I'm looking forward to having some more answers too. Allergies can be scary business, hey!? Glad you got answers & hoping you can find yummy alternatives for sweet Eme!

Andrea said...

Hi Elissa,
I found your blog through some mutual friends' blogs, and lurk about here to see your fabulous decorating and DIY project ideas. We have allergies in our family too & I just wrote a post about food ideas if you are interested.