Izzi’s Weaning journey has been far from easy. After being diagnosed with a cows milk protein allergy at just 2 weeks, when she turned 6 months and it was time for Weaning to begin, it was pretty daunting to say the least.
From day 1, Izzi wasn’t interested in much, if any food. It wasn’t like the easy Weaning experience we had with Abi. Because of her allergies we were lucky enough to be referred to the dietician and we had our first appointment when Izzi was 8 months old. At this point Izzi still wasn’t eating much at all. She just wasn’t interested. She also had what appeared to be an over sensitive gag reflex. As soon as anything that wasn’t a thin, completely smooth purée entered her mouth and hit the back of her throat she would be violently sick. Gagging, vomiting, and sometimes she even appeared to be choking. It made every meal time stressful and scary.
It was suggested that we stick to the purees and try to “desensitise” her to textures by letting her play with her food- a bit like baby led Weaning. So that was our next Weaning adventure. But unfortunately it didn’t work and every time the food entered her mouth the violent vomiting process started. Everything we tried had this effect, even pureeing up our own food didn’t work and despite it being lump free, it just wasn’t smooth enough and again, she would become poorly.
We weren’t offered another appointment until she was 1, which meant that in a way, we were left to our own devices for months. We made frequent phone calls to the dietician who gave us advice over the phone but nothing worked. The Health visitors tried to help as much as possible but again, it was too no avail. Eventually we were told that if she was still having these gagging episodes by the time she was 1, she would be referred to a paediatrician but this couldn’t happen till she was 1 years old.
As well as everything else, Izzi was also not really gaining weight and at her 10 month check she had dropped a centile. I think all mums can relate to the panic that comes with hearing those words because despite knowing that you’ve done everything you can to ensure your baby is healthy, hearing that they aren’t gaining weight like they should be is pretty upsetting.
That being said the health Visitor wasn’t concerned. Izzi is thriving in all other areas and she admitted that sometimes the centile system is floored. Some babies are just small, just like some adults are small!
Izzi turned 1 and our appointment was a couple of weeks after her birthday. Her eating was at an all time low and she had yet to sleep through the night, waking throughout the night hungry, sometimes even demolishing 18oz if milk through the night. And it wasn’t for comfort, it was hunger. Despite it being draining, i can’t say I blamed her though, because let’s be honest, puréed fruit pouches aren’t exactly filling or nutritious!!
I hit a brick wall on her birthday and I lost my mind a little. Not only because of stress and worry over possible reasons for her gagging etc. But also because of the sheer cost of the only pouches that she would eat!! We also found that she now would only eat sweet food. It also broke my heart that on her first birthday she wasn’t sat at the table eating a slice of the dairy free Colin the caterpillar cake we had got her. It felt wrong! So I started to persevere, I didn’t panic when she gagged, I took my time- even if it took an hour to get her to eat and didn’t give in!!
A week before her appointment, Izzi managed to get hold of a Bourbon biscuit that Abi had dropped (purposefully given her!). A Bourbon biscuit that’s full of milk plus very hard and far from smooth SHOULD of gone horribly wrong, but it didn’t. In fact it was opposite and that was the start of her starting to eat textures and lumps!!
Now to say her eating snow balled would be an understatement. She went from only eating smooth (practically liquid fruit) to eating lumps, bumps and all things savoury within a week and to say I was beaming with pride would be an understatement.
We attended her dietician appointment feeling really positive and I was still very much up for Izzi being referred to a paediatrician just to make sure there wasn’t anything underlying. But unfortunately the dietician wasn’t as positive. She didn’t want us giving Izzi any dairy for 4 months (despite her not reacting at all to any ‘contamination’ because of her cheeky sister!) and as for the lumps she brushed it of and decided that we didn’t need to see a paediatrician- which was a good sign I guess, but we did feel a little abandoned, specially when we were told we were under the health visitor now. To say I left the appointment feeling a little deflated would be an understatement.
I had gone into the appointment hoping to start the milk ladder that day and I guess you could say stupidly saw a light at the end of the stressful cmpa tunnel (I also saw a light at the end of ridiculously priced dairy free food tunnel… I mean seriously, why punish people for their allergies?) But alas, that wasn’t the case.
That being said, the fact she was eating actual food was enough to make me happy and since the appointment she’s just got better and better. I was quite nervous about her first day in Nursery since the appointment as I’ve spent the last 3 months telling them NO LUMPS and suddenly I’m flipping that on its head.
Picking her up, I was fully expecting the same conversation that I have every time she tries something at nursery but I was wrong. As I walked in everyone was excited and couldn’t wait to tell me how amazing she had been that day. Shed eaten Weetabix, banana, vegetable pasta (that was a little but pureed but was still really lumpy) fruit and then, and this made me cry- JAM SANDWICHES!!!!! That’s right, the little pest had eaten an actual sandwich, no puree, no mushed up food, an actual sandwich!!
Over the course of a couple of weeks Izzi went from one extreme to another and you can see a real difference. For one, she’s happier, shes gained weight and most importantly she’s sleeping through the night. This has also had a massive effect on my mood and despite still worrying about choking and potential allergies, I’m feeling positive about Izzi’s diet for the first time since she was 2 weeks old.
I cant really determine what may of triggered Izzi’s sudden change in dietary requirement’s but I do think that my change in attitude towards it helped. Perseverance really is key when you’re working with fussy children. Its hard to not give in when they refuse to eat any food and its also really hard to not give in purely because you’re exhausted after yet another sleepless night.
We also started to feed Izzi with Abi and having Abi sat next to her eating food that looks similar if not the same really encouraged Izzi to try new things like crisps and wafers.
As well as this we started to let Izzi explore the textures of her food. This included a lot of mess, a lot of food throwing and ALOT of baths. Not only did this make her comfortable with textures that she hadn’t ever felt before but it also made meal times fun, which after months of distress every time she ate which no doubt left a bit of a scar, is really important. She now gets excited when it comes to meals and as soon as she sees the bowl and spoon come out she’s makes her own way to her seat.
Finally, we cut out milk. Instead of 4 bottles of milk throughout the day she now has only 1 5oz bottle in the morning first thing and a 7oz bottle just before she goes to bed. I expected this to be quite hard as to cut out milk when Abi was tiny was really hard and she still had a bottle of milk in bed every night right up until Izzi was born.
Of course all this could very well be irrelevant when Izzi no doubt decides that she’s against lumps again but we will cross that hurdle when it comes.
I get messaged a lot regarding how we have dealt with so many dietary issues and to be honest, I would say ‘dealt’ is very far from what we have done. I have had countless food related meltdowns, spent hours on the phone to dieticians and salty visitors and spent more time worrying about if she’s eaten enough than anything else in my life. But finally, she’s done it. She’s cracked it and all the tears, anger, frustration and fear have been worth it.
Now to make sure this new found food loving Izzi sticks around!