Giving Up Dairy & Casein for My Breastfeeding Daughter
Today I have been breastfeeding my youngest for 1 year 2 months and 1 day. I can not say it has been an easy time but I am SO proud that we have been able to make it here. It was important for me to make it to 6 months, then I changed the goal to 1 year and now I am just hoping to continue as long as she wants to. Not every breastfeeding journey is simple. It can take a lot of patience and sacrifice and I had a quick lesson in that.
Daughter only an hour old after we first nursed
About 10 days after I brought my daughter home from the hospital I noticed she was acting typically ‘colic‘. My other two children did not just scream for any unknown reason so I knew something was off with Baby E. When my son was a newborn he was only breastfed for 6 weeks and then he was on hypo-allergenic formula because he had a lot of digestive troubles. My first daughter was breastfeed for almost 4 months when I had to stop for medical reasons for myself. So, I did not have a lot of experience with colic and the breastfed baby.
All I did know was that I did not have time for it. I know that sounds awful, but it’s true. I had a 3 year old and a 2 year old at home with me who also needed my attention and support and it was noisy enough. I had to get to the bottom of why this 10 day old baby was just crying.
Baby E was constantly crying (like blood curdling cries), jerking her knees up to her stomach, puking after eating (like PUKE not baby spit up) and she started to develop a rash all over her body Something in the back of my head told me that this is dairy. I have to cut lactose out of my diet since I am breastfeeding and see if that helps her.
So I was now eating gluten free (because of my Celiac Disease) and lactose free. I gave it a few days and while the symptoms did get a bit better in Baby E, they were still not completely gone – so I waited another week with out having any lactose. Her symptoms were still not completely gone yet and I knew that since they were getting better – I was on to something.
After a bit of research I discovered Casein. I had heard of the casein free diet through Autism information and decided to look more into it. Casein is the main protein in cows milk and is found in ingredients like whey & casienate as well as any dairy products (and gasp … chocolate!).
I decided to give up all dairy including casein and see how that affected Baby E. Since I was already eating gluten free I was an ‘expert’ at scouring food labeling to peg out the ingredients that contained casein. Seriously within the week she was a WHOLE. NEW. BABY!! Her rash was gone, her screaming was gone, there was no knee jerking and no more throwing up. It was a miracle.
After talking with our doctor he suggested I stayed off all forms of casein for at least 9 months and then to slowly start to incorporate it back into my diet and to keep her off it for at least a year. Baby E was exclusively breast feed for her first 9 months before she started to receive anything other then breast milk. I was eating casein free that entire time (I MISSED MY CHOCOLATE!!) and it was so worth it.
Was the diet hard? Absolutely! What made it so worth it was the happy baby I got to enjoy instead of the super-cranky-can’t-keep-anything-down baby I could have had. After about a year I slowly started to bring casein back in my diet. I started eating lactose free and see how she tolerated that and was introducing yogurt and hard cheese into her diet. She seemed to be doing just fine so we stayed with that for a while.
1 year 2 months and 1 day later I am pretty much able to eat what I want again (hello chocolate!). Baby E is still not having any dairy other then yogurt and cheese and she seems to tolerate both of us having dairy to a moderate level. If I over do it – it becomes apparent right away – the puking, the rash, the screaming all come back.
If you are at home with a screaming colicky baby I suggest you talk to your baby’s pediatrician about a possible dairy, lactose or casein sensitivity. From what my doctor told me, most babies digestive system can start to tolerate it around 9-12 months so it is not something they will normally live with for a long period of time.
Do you have any experience eating casein free? What about advice for other families dealing with a baby who has colic?