Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Discovering Milk Protein Intolerance

 Our littlest one Sebastian (who is now 4 months old) was born a happy baby. Other than a little spitting up, we felt very blessed with such an “easy” baby. Until he was about 1 month old.

At one month old, he started to spit up more. A lot more. He also became more fussy and developed a raw eczema rash on his face and parts of his body. It was when he began having crying fits, where he would refuse to nurse and could not be comforted, that I knew something was wrong.

I asked many knowledgeable friends and did hours of research online. The consensus was that it was likely a food allergy or intolerance. And so began the process of cutting out foods and keeping a food diary.

The symptoms of food allergy/intolerance in babies:
  • Excessive spit up
  • mucousy stools
  • gassy
  • fussy
  • refusing to nurse and/or take a bottle
  • eczema or rash
After a couple of weeks of eliminating the major possible culprits and keeping a food diary, I took him into the doctor. She agreed that it was probably a food intolerance and gave me confidence that if I felt it was a certain food, it probably was.

The most common food allergies and intolerance in babies:
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
It was not easy trying to figure it out. I wanted to give up, except for the fact that if I didn't figure it out my son would suffer with horrible bleeding eczema, itching, reflux, and irritable bowels. Whatever it was in my diet would literally make him draw up his legs in pain as he passed gas or had painful bowel movements.

After a few weeks, I started to notice a pattern with dairy. As I kept dairy out of my diet and introduced other foods back in, it became fairly clear that dairy was indeed the culprit. 

"I feel much better mom!" - After eliminating dairy

I love dairy, and I don't keep it out of my diet perfectly. Sometimes I beat myself up over sneaking in some dairy (or just plain forgetting), because he always pay for it, while it doesn't affect me at all. Regardless of my imperfect following of a dairy free diet, the improvement is huge.

We still have to use hydrocortisone cream on occasion and other creams to calm his skin. We often check his body over for hidden eczema spots that need treated. But, he is a very different baby now. I was such a big dairy eater before. It's definitely a struggle for me.

Typically, babies with milk protein intolerance also have soy protein intolerance (called MSPI, or milk soy protein intolerance). However, I have not seen a significant difference when cutting out soy (though I try to keep it to a minimum anyway).

If this sounds like your baby, trust your instincts. And if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.


  1. We are a dairy free family for the same reason! I'm so glad you were able to find the problem and continue nursing your little guy. We've been dairy free for 2 years and plan to continue for a while. Please let me know if you have any questions on anything!

    Becky Marie

  2. oh wow! Thank goodness you were able to figure out what the problem was. I have had to limit my dairy intake and we just figured out that my oldest daughter has to cut dairy our completely. Food just isn't like it used to be!

    1. Joy, thanks for stopping by. I'd love it if you share your dairy free journey with me as well!

  3. I'm on your track, too. I love dairy and am missing it terribly, but dairy-free we go until he's at least a year. For my baby you could add bloated, hard tummy to your list. He would also wake from a sound sleep SCREAMING. He also had a really hard time in the car seat, I'm guessing because of the reclining position? I don't know but he would scream and cry. As soon as I cut dairy he started traveling happy as a lark. He was also always congested with a runny nose. I thought he was sick, but it lasted for more than two months. He would scratch at his head so he was all scratched up if I forgot to put socks on his hands. I finally I started adding things up. (Slow, I know...) As I look back, I keep noticing all these little symptoms (not the big ones I mentioned). Anyway, good luck on your journey. I agree that it's tough but I'm so proud of you for sticking it out and not turning to formula. (P.S. I was aimlessly wandering the frozen section in the grocery store about 3 weeks ago STARVING because I feel like everything -bread included-has dairy and my eyes fell on Almond Milk ice-cream type thing. THAT brand was disgusting but it opened my eyes. I didn't know that anything like that existed. So I searched a little more and found So Delicious. If you haven't tried it yet, GO FIND IT. It's crazy expensive but oh-so-worth it. Coconut milk iced desert vanilla bean. So nummy. They also make nog, choco "milk", choco mint "milk", subs for ice cream sandwiches, etc and have some huge selection of "ice cream" if you live in a bigger town. When I found that stuff, it made my day! :) Good luck!!!) (Maybe some of this won't apply--but I found this post bc someone had pinned it and I haven't read anything else on your blog... but still--best wishes! :) )

    1. Thanks for all the tips! I have tried some coconut milk ice cream locally that is good. That's about the extent of our selection in our town, but I have ordered some from Azure, too. Thanks for stopping by!