We often get asked for tips on weaning babies with eczema and allergies. So we asked Emily who writes the great blog afreefromworld to tell us about her experiences of weaning her daughter Elianah who suffers from multiple food allergies and eczema.
Weaning onto solids is an exciting milestone in any child’s life. Celebrating the first moment they open their mouths readily at the sight of their favourite food, signing ‘more’ when they’ve already devoured a whole banana, picking up a spoon and aiming it in the approximate direction of their salivating tongues. All these occasions are times to be treasured by parents of all children, with allergies or without.
However, for some parents, weaning decisions have to go far deeper than choosing whether to follow Gina Ford or Annabel Karmel, wean at 4 months, 6 months or later, use spoon or fingers, follow baby led weaning or make purees. When your child has food allergies, every meal time becomes a moment of potential allergy triggers. Parents’ hearts racing as new foods are introduced. Making a mental note of the procedure if my daughter were to show signs of a reaction. Piriton at the ready. Mobile phone to hand. Eagle eyes watching every inch of my daughter’s face, preparing to note any change in colour or size. Cautiously moving foods into the safe column after a few days of testing with no reaction.
I have honestly found the whole experience stressful, frightening on occasion and full of guilt. The time I tried my daughter with blended chickpea with her usual safe vegetables, only to end up running into the doctors surgery screaming for medical attention. The first few months of my daughter’s life, before the blood results came through, when she was reacting violently to the allergens in my breastmilk.
Food is such an integral part of life. It’s also wound so tightly with our emotions. We share meals together when we celebrate occasions, food provides comfort when we’re feeling low, it lifts our blood sugar levels when we lack energy, it forms a significant part of Christmas festivities. Food is both essential nourishment and family time; a quick snack on the go and a hearty replenishing dinner; an offer of hospitality and a business meeting. You can’t get away from it. Our little ones can’t hide from their allergies. As parents, we have that privilege and responsibility of helping them face their food battles, learn how to read for hidden allergens on ingredients lists and show them a love for food that doesn’t have to be hindered by their challenges.
My daughter, Elianah, is now 13 months and has food allergies to wheat milk egg soya and nuts. We are waiting for further test results after other recent reactions. At times, we have been fazed by the scale of her allergies. She is still breastfed as for her, the best milk has proved to be diet controlled breastmilk. As she eats more and more solid foods and we look for ways to get all her calcium and fat needs from foods, my husband and I have discovered a wealth of adaptable recipes and food ideas. We have come to share in her free from world, and the diet she is on is pretty balanced considering key missing foods. I started a blog to encourage other parents or eczema and allergy sufferers in a similar situation that there is no need to face the ‘free from’ world alone.
Ten years ago, the choice of food for allergy sufferers in supermarkets was poor, and the medical awareness and treatment of eczema was far from the standard it is now.
On my blog are posts on which supermarkets stock the best free from selections, a whole stash of recipes free from wheat milk egg soy and nuts, and regular blog posts on eczema and allergies in the news, and generally how we get on as a family in our free from world.
There is no getting away from the fact there are added complications when weaning a child with food allergies and eczema. There is also no disputing the fact that ideas and support are out there. There is no need for our children to face their free from world alone.
- Increase one new food at a time
- Add a food to the safe list if no symptoms show after 3 days
- Adapt existing recipes
- Rice milk should be used from aged 6 plus
- Try not to show your child you’re worried or stressed during meal times (I play music to distract me and make me show silly faces and dance moves to my daughter as she eats)
- Let your friends know about your child’s allergies so they only give safe food
- I have found baby signing a great way to have fun during mealtimes (signs for ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘more’, ‘all done’ help your child be in control of food time too)
- Treat yourself and your child with delicious free from snacks