"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, March 26, 2012

dairy-free, round three

I think I may have unlocked the secret code behind fussy, squirmy, non-sleeping, "colicky" babies everywhere. It's the Milk, man.

Evan was a fussy, squirmy, non-sleeping, colicky baby. We started him on probiotics to soothe his troubled tummy, and it helped immensely...but he still didn't sleep. At ten months, when he was diagnosed with food allergies, I immediately cut his allergens (13 of them!) out of my diet....and guess what? He FINALLY started sleeping "through the night" (by Parenting Manual Standards--6+ hours in a row).

Once Evan had weaned, I added dairy (and everything else) back into my diet, only to stop again about two months before Max was born. I was paranoid about "giving" food allergies to my second kid, so I was extremely cautious. I nursed Max on a milk-free diet and he was a super chill little baby--happy, alert, and very comfortable. And while I didn't think ANY of my kids would ever be Super Sleepers, Max was a much better sleeper than Evan had been (or still was, at the time, to be honest).

Max didn't develop food allergies, and by the time I was pregnant with Molly, Evan had outgrown most of his, so I took a much more relaxed approach to nursing this time around. I didn't restrict my diet at all, but knew what "signs" to look out for.

The first two-and-a-half weeks of Molly's life were blissful. She was a happy, alert, comfy, eating, SLEEPING, dream baby. But then, right before she was three weeks old, she had a few fussy days in a row, which was brand new for her. I noticed that she seemed squirmy after feedings, unable to settle into a comfortable position, and she would curl her legs up to her chest and get tense. Because this baby almost never cries, so I wouldn't call her at all colicky, her behaviors still seemed very reminiscent of Baby Evan.

And so, it was a no-brainer: I would immediately cut all dairy out of my diet and see what happened.

It took four or five days to see a difference in her comfort level (the amount of time it took for the milk protein to leave our systems, probably), but by the end of that time, it was evident: No longer was she unsettled after feedings. Once again she would drift right back to sleep after a night-time feeding without needing to be rocked, bounced, or otherwise soothed (I didn't know babies could even DO that). I didn't notice her curling her legs up, tensing her tummy, or appearing otherwise uncomfortable. She's alert, smiley, an easy sleeper, and an all-around Happy Baby. She's even starting to tolerate the car....just don't take this kid to Target. She Does Not Like Target. (Who doesn't like Target?? She better get on board with that one--how will I survive??)

And so, I will continue to 86 the dairy for the next few months and then, maybe, reintroduce it. Or not. Giving up dairy is easy. And to keep this sweet girl happy? I'd do anything.

Lesson Learned:
I wish I had known to try an elimination diet with Evan before first putting him on Probiotics. They worked for him and I'm happy we found them, but I sort of feel like they were masking the true problem rather than solving it. And for the record: No, I'm not disproportionally worried that Molly will be allergic to milk. Because we now have a family history of allergies, she might be, and if she is then we'll know what to do, but I don't think of this new finding as a diagnosis. I think a lot of babies have sensitive tummies and that the milk protein must be a pretty tricky one to digest, but not that there's a direct correlation between discomfort in infancy and long-lasting sensitivities or allergies to food. I'm just so happy to have easily discovered the key to my baby's happiness, because this new Real Smile she's flashing these days may be the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life (now if only I could break eye-contact with her for a second so I could catch it on film...).

2 comments :

  1. Good to know! Maybe that was our problem too...one kid who wouldn't sleep, and another who was diagnosed with "acid reflux" and on meds for 10 months. Rgh, always something, right?!

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  2. Could be! I've had several friends cut it out after seeing similar symptoms and others who never consumed dairy while nursing as a "just in case" or "won't hurt to avoid it." Maybe keep it in mind for Baby #3! Thanks for reading!

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