Weaning – A Wheat Allergy Too?

Last week, I posted about the early days of weaning Max and promised an update so voila! To go back and provide a quick summary from the start: at five weeks old, Max was readmitted to hospital as he was pale and lethargic. When we got to the children’s ward, his temperature was low and he’d lost around 11oz I think it was in three days, during the evening his poos were getting paler and paler until they were completely white. They tested his blood which was too acidic and started giving him medication to reverse that. Initially they thought he may have sepsis, or have an underlying liver or kidney condition as the tests they’d done had also shown up problems with both of these. Eventually they decided he had FPIES, a type of allergic reaction which is internal and can’t be tested for. It takes a couple of days for an FPIES reaction to show up and it can mimic the symptoms of sepsis; there are four reactions ranging from mild to moderate to severe to life-threatening and his was deemed as the high end of severe.

So we cut out all dairy and soya. Last week I talked about introducing soya (we’re not trying dairy until he turns one) and how we think he’d reacted to that. Two days later, he started being sick a lot. He’s got reflux so we’re used to him being sick a little (and Alexandra was the Vomit Kid despite having nothing medically wrong with her), so we’re well used to a little spew. But this was severe. It seemed like every half an hour he was being sick. Otherwise he was completely well, so there was no cause for alarm. But on the second day we started scratching our heads trying to work out why, our initial thought was soya, but the sequence of events didn’t make sense. We also considered whether having his flu jab had caused it, but again it didn’t really make that much sense. I scrolled through the food diary I’ve been keeping for him and realised the only thing we’d introduced in the previous couple of days had been wheat in the form of cereal in the morning.

We didn’t give him any wheat starting from the Monday (after a weekend of vomiting) and he’s stopped being sick as much. We still get the odd tiny bit but nothing like those two days. I spoke to his paediatrician later in the week who confirmed that was the right course of action and we should leave it a couple of weeks then try soya first, wait for a reaction or not, and then try wheat once we’ve established the soya situation.

It’s a bit of a bugger really. We’ve gone from knowing it’s unlikely he’ll ever tolerate dairy and being hopeful that he’d be able to have soya (we were told a third of babies who are FPIES to dairy also react to soya) to now thinking dairy, soya AND wheat could be totally off the menu. For a couple of days he ended up basically back on fruit and vegetables and then I spent ages searching the shelves of Asda for some different options for him. There are choices out there which is great, but I find many of the dairy-free alternatives contain soya and now wheat is an added complication! We’re going to look into the possibility of getting a bread maker as free from bread is so expensive! And I’m sure there are other ways we can give him a varied diet without breaking the bank – we’re meeting with the paediatric dietician next week also so they’ll be able to help further.

But for now, it’s the daily task of trying to get some tasty food into him and wondering whether every bit of sick, irritable behaviour or dodgy poo is a reaction or just part of normal baby life. Plenty of people have said ‘oh maybe he’ll grow out of it’ (probably going by their experience that a lot of babies who have other conditions do) but the doctor has firmly told us he doesn’t think Max will ever tolerate dairy judging by how small he was when he reacted and how bad the reaction was. Either way, I’d prefer to prepare myself for the worst possible scenario of life-long allergies and then we can be pleasantly surprised if one day it turns out he’s grown out of it!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Whining About Weaning

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Weaning is one of those topics which really divides mothers (and prospective mothers, and even just incredibly nosey people). Some people believe we should be forcing tasty morsels down our baby’s throats from pretty much the second they cut the umbilical cord. Others see no rush to get onto solids and are happy to wait a few months before they try out proper food with their baby.

I’m firmly in the latter camp. I accept there are occasions where a health visitor or doctor may advise early weaning, usually if there’s some sort of medical problem which necessitates it, but other than that I think all the research screams ‘wait til six months’ so that’s what I’d rather do.
Now Alexandra is five and a half months there’s almost a temptation to start trying her with foods, but equally she’s not quite sitting up by herself yet and I just don’t think she’s ready. Yes she puts everything in her mouth: tasting things is part of exploring and there’s nasty teeth coming through making her want to rub her gums along things. Yes she watches sometimes when I eat: but equally she watches me while I fill my pill box every week, should I be encouraging her to try some warfarin? She’s five months old and the world is new and distracting and amazing, colours and noise astound her and she wants to know what’s going on.
As someone choosing to wait to wean it seems like there’s a lot of pressure to ‘cave in’. Examples of people being weaned early and not immediately keeling over are banded around regularly. I myself was on baby rice aged 12 weeks. But the facts speak for themselves. We know early weaning is more likely to cause problems later on in life.
Plus I invite anyone advocating early weaning to look at my child, really properly look at her. She’s 23 weeks old and putting on weight along the 50th centile. She’s been following the 50th centile for as long as the health visitor’s been tracking her weight. She sleeps all night and is a happy, smiley baby. Does it look like she’s desperate to eat? Does it look like she’s malnourished?
Alexandra is perfectly happy on a bottle. She knows no different. But as a mom I feel confident to rely on the experts as well as my own instinct that we’re fine solely on milk for the next few weeks. Yes it will be amazing trying out different foods with her and hopefully instilling her with a healthy appetite for the rest of her life. But she has years and years of eating solids ahead of her, there’s no rush to make her grow up just for the thrill of telling people your baby eats solids or a cute Instagram picture. My baby thrives on milk and I thrive knowing she’s fine and dandy doing just that!
Harriet and Alexandra X