Monday, November 18, 2013

8 Tips for Treating Your Baby's Eczema

Eczema and milk protein allergies...sigh...

I did not realize that these two issues went hand in hand until my poor baby's entire head seemed to flare up with those bumpy, oozing, fiery, itchy rashes practically overnight.

The discouraging part was that it seemed that we had finally gotten my diet under control; he was nursing happily and gaining weight beautifully until this awful eczema showed up. He was about 4 months old. The poor little guy had no idea what hit him, and he was miserably itchy. We were willing to try anything, because seeing our helpless little boy so unhappy and clawing at his face until it bled was just too much to bear.

We have tried and tested more than our share of treatment methods, and I would love to share with you some helpful tips that I learned:

1) SEE AN ALLERGIST. Seriously. Most family physicians are not aware of some very effective treatment methods. In fact, they may not even be aware of how to use certain prescription creams or ointments. I returned to my doctor several times, and I'm sure she got sick and tired of seeing my face. But it was worth it, because she referred me to an allergist, and it was the best thing that happened for my son's eczema.

2) Use dye-free, fragrance-free detergents for your baby's laundry. Perfumes and dyes are an eczema victim's worst enemy.

3) If you are baby-wearing, limit your perfume, makeup, and hairspray.

4) Use scent-free, dye-free, castile baby soaps. They are expensive ($7-$15 a bottle) but generally they last a long time. We are still using ours that we bought 10 months ago.

5) Use cream, not lotion, on your baby. Vaseline is good too, especially after a bath so that it locks in the moisture (I prefer the non-petroleum kind). Make sure it is scent-free and dye-free.

6) Always cover your baby's hands when he or she is sleeping. They cannot control themselves, and we can't watch them all night to make sure they don't scratch. I preferred nice thick socks on my son's hands, because he could still make himself bleed through those thin little scratch mittens.

7) Drizzle a bit of coconut oil or olive oil in your baby's bath. They are both healthy, gentle, and natural...and a great way to keep that baby skin nice and soft.

8) When your baby is prescribed a steroid cream or ointment, doctors usually warn about the risk of it thinning our baby's skin, and how we need to use it sparingly.


If you use it "sparingly", it will NOT WORK, and you will end up using much more of it in the long run because the eczema will not go away. Eczema should be treated aggressively. When we met with our allergist, he demonstrated how to use it, and he took about a dime-sized amount and rubbed that cream into the eczema until it was all absorbed. This way was much more effective, and my baby's eczema had improved within days (after 2 months of it continually worsening). Also, use the cream until the eczema has disappeared. Don't stop just because the symptoms have improved, because it will flare back up again. Get rid of it for good!

I hope this was helpful...stay tuned to hear about some of our favourite "eczema friendly" products!

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am a mother sharing my experience. Everyone's baby is unique, as is their skin, so please consult with your doctor or allergist for medical advice**

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Product Review: Daiya Cheddar Flavoured Shreds

Here is my first product review! I have tried many different products and foods in my quest for a balanced dairy-free diet, so I'm excited to share my thoughts on them.

Daiya Cheddar Flavoured Shreds:

First of all, my son LOVES eating these plain. He obviously had never tried real cheddar cheese, so the flavour was fine for him. I would often put a little pile on his tray for him to pick at while I fed him lunch.

I actually don't mind this stuff either when it's straight from the bag. However cooking with it is a little tricky, depending on what you are making. See below for the list of successes and flops.

The nice thing about this product is that it is both dairy AND soy free. Most cheese alternatives are made with soy, but this "cheese" has neither.

 The cost of 1 bag is not terrible, considering most dairy alternatives tend to be quite pricey. In my local grocery store, they go for about $6 a bag, which is about $1.50 more than a bag of real cheese.

A bag of Daiya shreds has a very long shelf life (stored in the fridge) before you open it. Once opened, it says to use it up within a week. I have kept it for a couple days longer than a week, but no longer than that because it is hard to tell when it has gone bad, and I wouldn't take the risk of my little one getting sick.

Here are some meals that worked well with this product, and meals that are only meant for real cheese:

Successes (recipes to follow!)
-Homemade Mac'n'Cheese
-grilled cheese

-fajitas (the cheese melted and the flavour did not go well with the fajita)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hypoallergenic Formula vs Breastfeeding on a Dairy/Soy-Free Diet

Breast vs Bottle...the never-ending discussion that tends to ruffle all kinds of feathers...

I, for one, consider myself to be very open-minded about whatever decision a mother makes for herself and her baby. I am "team boob", but I totally get that some mothers have a lot of difficulty with nursing, and formula is the only thing that brings rest and peace to their homes. I started off nursing and ended up bottle-feeding, so I am in no place to judge. However I do feel quite proud of myself that I stuck to nursing as long as I possibly could...I went back to work when my son was 10 months old, and he decided he preferred the bottle! So we forked out hundreds of dollars on that super expensive hypoallergenic formula...c'est la vie, I guess.

The reason I want to touch on this topic is because for a mother of a dairy/soy-free baby, the choice between breast or bottle is not so simple. It involves figuring out which option is the safest and healthiest for your baby while working for your bank account. For the first 6 months of my son's life, formula was absolutely not an option. The amino-acid based kind was just too expensive, and the over-the-counter kind still gave him exclusive breastfeeding was the only option at that time, and I made darn sure it worked!

Here is the scoop on hypoallergenic formula:

Hydrolyzed Formula: These formulas have broken-down milk proteins (previously "digested" I guess is the best way to describe it). They are great for babies with milk/soy allergies as long as the allergy is not severe. The general rule that my allergist told me was that if the baby can't tolerate traces of dairy or soy proteins through your breastmilk, he likely won't be able to tolerate this type of formula.

Hydrolyzed Formulas are sold over-the-counter in Ontario. The brands we have here are Nutramigen (by Enfamil), and Alimentum (by Similac).

Amino-acid Based Formula: These formulas contain proteins in their simplest form. They are meant for those babies who are severely allergic to milk, soy, or other. You need a prescription to purchase this type of formula, and it is very expensive.

Some insurance companies may cover this kind of formula, but you may need to put them in touch with your doctor to confirm the severity of the allergy.

The brand that is commonly prescribed here is called Neocate.

There are partially hydrolyzed formulas out there (for example, Gentle-ease by Enfamil). Note that these are NOT hypoallergenic. They are made for babies with very sensitive tummies, but not for babies with milk/soy protein allergies.

For us, exclusive breastfeeding was the best option. I was happy to go on a dairy/soy free diet A) to save us money and B) to give my baby the best nutrition for him.

**This post is not sponsored, and I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this post**

Dairy Replacements

To follow up from the previous post, I have a list of replacement dairy items that were great for when you just crave that dairy!

Cheese: Oh, how I missed cheese. Thank goodness I discovered Daiya! This is a brand of dairy free/soy free cheese replacement. They are a few products, including shredded "cheddar" cheese, and cream cheese spread.

Yogurt: Most dairy free yogurts are made with soy. There are some made with almond, but the ones that I have found "may contain traces of milk/soy". Enter So Delicious Cultured Coconut milk! They have a few different flavours, and they are dairy/soy free.

Milk: My allergist recommended rice milk. I was not excited about this because A) I am not fond of the taste, and B) I found the nutritional value to be considerably lacking. I found Flax Delight (flax milk), Enriched Oat Dream, and Enriched Coconut Dream to be the best options (nutrition wise).

I find most of these products at Loblaws.

Stay tuned for my reviews of these products and more!

**This post is not sponsored, and I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this post**

Starting a Dairy/Soy Free Diet

I remember that feeling like yesterday. That sinking feeling when my little one had just been diagnosed with an allergy, and I needed to change everything about my diet. Where on earth do I start?? I know what I need to avoid...but which foods are safe? The last thing you want is to eat the wrong thing/give your child the wrong thing and be responsible for his/her suffering.

I was afraid to eat anything but chicken, rice, and a handful of veggies and fruit. Needless to say I quickly dropped some of that baby weight! However it is not healthy to live like that. I did lots of research and ingredient-reading over several months, and was able to come up with a guideline in case any of my mommy friends encountered the same issue...check it out!

Green Light list for the Dairy/Soy Free Diet:

- All meats (I had seen in certain parenting forums online that some people cut beef out of their diet. My allergist said this is not normally necessary for a cow's milk protein diet.  My little one never had an issue with beef, however everyone's situation is different, so it is best to consult with your doctor and/or allergist).

-Whole Grains (rice, quinoa, barley, oats, millet, wheat, etc)

-Any fruit

-Any vegetables/beans/legumes except soy beans and edamame beans. It may also be a good idea to avoid peas as they have similar proteins to soy. Again, it depends on your specific situation and would be best to consult with a doctor about this.

-Most pastas (No Name brand and President's Choice brands are safe)

-Unico, President's Choice, and No Name Pasta sauces are all made with olive oil or canola oil

-Fontaine Sante Hummus/Summer Fresh Hummus are both safe brands

-Heinz Ketchup

-All juice, pop, coffee, and tea that I have encountered are safe.

-President's Choice white soft tortillas

-Old El Paso Salsa, President's Choice salsa

-Hellman's Olive Oil Mayonnaise

-Kettle Brand Sea Salt potato chips

-Lard for baking (not "shortening"--contains soy!!!)

-President's Choice Black Menu unsweetened cocoa powder

-Renee's vinaigrette salad dressing uses canola oil

-All natural peanut butter--President's Choice makes some and it's good!

-President's choice Blue Menu jams/jellies

-Life Savers (hard candy and chewy candies)

I hope you find this "starting off list" helpful! These were some of my go-to items when I first started out. Most of these items can be found at Loblaws or Your Independent Grocer.

If you are curious about any specific items (where to find an item, whether or not an item is dairy/soy free, etc), or want to add more ideas to the list, feel free leave a comment...I will do my best to give you a satisfactory response, and I'm sure there are individuals out there who would appreciate the information.

**This post is not sponsored, and I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this post**

About Me

I am here to help...I hope!

My son was diagnosed with a cow's milk/soy protein allergy at the tiny age of 6 weeks old. As a breastfeeding mother, I was advised to cut all dairy and soy out of my diet with absolutely no direction/tips/advice. It was scary, frustrating, and stressful.

I contacted dieticians, allergists, doctors, you name it. I fought tooth and nail to continue nursing my child and learn how to feed my family on a dairy/soy free diet. I found out a lot of information and have a lot of resources, but I spent hours upon hours upon HOURS researching/calling/emailing, not to mention trying hundreds of recipes, many of which failed.

To spare my fellow dairy free moms the pain, headaches, heartaches, and exhaustion that I went through, I want to share with you all that I have learned and discovered the hard way in hopes that I can help make your life easier. Let's face in, having a baby is challenging enough, and when you throw allergies into the mix, it can push any sleep-deprived, emotionally fragile parent over the edge!

Please stay tuned for free weekly dairy/soy-free recipes, product reviews, and more.