Fresh Squeezed Strawberry Lemonade

I am sorry I have been MIA for a bit. Real life has been hectic, lots of changes and new beginnings coming soon in the next month so I have had virtually no time for blog writing. Aside from the craziness of life, we have been enjoying the summer weather and getting out and about with the boys. This past weekend we went to Strawberry Fest in a town nearby. Every year they have this fest with everything strawberry! And of course we can’t leave without picking up some locally grown strawberries!

I decided to try some new things using these sweet, super juicy berries that we can’t get all year round. One recipe, at the request of my 3 year old, was fresh strawberry lemonade. So refreshing and everything about it says summer! Plus, it uses all real ingredients so it is much healthier and better tasting than the syrupy, heavy strawberry lemonade you may be able to purchase at the grocery store.

Delicious, refreshing strawberry lemonade!!

Delicious, refreshing strawberry lemonade!!

It got two thumbs up from the boys and myself!

Fresh Strawberry Lemonade

Yields: 4 cups

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (can also use store bought in a pinch)
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2-4 tablespoons natural/ organic sugar *see note below
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries *see note below
  • 1/2 cup ice

Note: I like my lemonade to still have some tartness to it so I only used 2 T of sugar. Adjust accordingly to your taste. For the strawberries, if you would like a bit of a frostier consistency, use frozen strawberries, can also freeze your fresh strawberries before using!

1. Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth! Enjoy!!

Easy peasy!!

 

 

 

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

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3 Year Breastfeeding Milestone: Busting Common Myths *PART 2*

This is part 2 of a series I am doing in celebration of me reaching the 3 year milestone of breastfeeding one of my children. You can see Part 1 here if you missed it. I am busting common breastfeeding myths and setting the facts straight. I compiled this list from things I have either been told or heard at one point or another. There are also a few that friends of mine wanted me to touch on. Enjoy!

Nursing Braydon (2 1/2 mos old) at local 4th of July Parade

Nursing Braydon (2 1/2 mos old) at local 4th of July Parade

 

Help! I am not producing enough because my baby nurses a lot / or when I pump I only get a couple ounces”

These are probably two of the most common concerns/ myths I hear. There are MANY reasons a breast fed baby could be nursing more often. ie: growth spurt, building supply, mother is on her period (some women report a dip in supply due to hormones during her cycle), baby is just hungry, nursing for comfort.

As far as getting a small amount of milk when pumping. A breast pump will never be as efficient at getting milk from the breast as a baby. So while you may only pump 2 ounces, there could really be 4, 5 or 6 ounces in your breasts. It could be the type of pump (manual or electric) or just your body. My body does not react well to electric pumps. I can have engorged breasts and get maybe an ounce or two out with my electric pump. Now when I use my manual pump, I have gotten as much as 10 ounces out in one pumping session. If you are a mother who has recently gone back to work and is noticing a decrease in the amount of milk you are pumping, it could very well be the start of a supply issue as like I said, a pump will never completely drain a breast the way a baby will. You would want to look into ways of increasing your supply.

 

“I  just found out I am pregnant, now I need to stop breastfeeding my first child”

This one is something I even hear women say that their doctors told them. It can be true depending on circumstances but in MOST cases, a woman can breastfeed throughout a subsequent pregnancy no problem. The main concern with this is that breastfeeding releases a hormone called oxytocin which is the same hormone that causes contractions during labor. So if you are a woman with a history of preterm labor, you will want to discuss this with your doctor. If you have no history of this, you are most likely just fine to nurse on! I personally have breastfed for 5 months of my second pregnancy with out any concerns or problems arising. In fact, my midwife encouraged me to continue nursing while I was pregnant.

 

“You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding”

While many still believe this to be true, it is false. It is still very possible to get pregnant while breast feeding. Been there, done that 😉 While some women notice that their period is slow to return, not all women are so lucky and will have their first post partum cycle return within the first 6 months to a year. Even if you are not getting a regular cycle yet, you can still get pregnant! So if you are wanting to avoid pregnancy while nursing you will want to talk to your care provider about which contraception is best for you or use natural family planning (NFP).

 

“Breast milk is only good for the first year, once a child turns one, you must wean because there is no nutritional value”

This is another one that I just shake my head at. I think this one is more or less because of society’s view on breastfeeding past infancy. Many people think it is unnecessary, inappropriate or selfish of the mother. There is NO expiration on a mother’s breast milk. In fact:

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

  • 29% of energy requirements
  • 43% of protein requirements
  • 36% of calcium requirements
  • 75% of vitamin A requirements
  • 76% of folate requirements
  • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
  • 60% of vitamin C requirements

– Dewey 2001

I actually have great peace of mind since I continue to nurse my kids past 1 year because we all know toddlers can be picky eaters. But knowing that they are also getting breast milk makes me feel better knowing they are getting complete nutrition on their pickiest days.

Shayne (18 mos) in his breastfeeding "gymnurstics" shirt after we participated in the Big Latch On

Shayne (18 mos) in his breastfeeding “gymnurstics” shirt after we participated in the Big Latch On

 

“If you breastfeed, your child will be a picky eater”

It is actually quite the opposite. While toddlers in general are picky eaters, breast fed toddlers tend to be less picky because the taste and flavor of breast milk changes depending on what the mother eats. So while they are nursing, they are getting an assortment of flavors before they even start solids.

 

“I am sick (or taking a medication) so I have to stop breastfeeding”

I get asked this one by every mother who comes to me for help. What bugs me even more is when she tells me her doctor said she should probably stop for this reason. I have breast fed through sinus infections, the flu, colds etc. The good thing about the time we live in is that there has been lots of research on medications that are safe for a breastfeeding mother to take through out many illnesses. If you are sick and needing medication, be sure to talk to your doctor about prescribing a safe medication. There are also many resources online, my favorite being KellyMom, who has charts and lists of medications that are safe. And as I mentioned in part 1, it is actually good to continue nursing a baby through sickness because your body will be busy creating antibodies that your baby will receive via breast milk and so he may not even get sick or may have a toned down version or shortened length of illness. A mother can still continue nursing if she ends up with mastitis. I have not ever had this personally, but have heard many women successful in continuing their breastfeeding journey through clogged ducts and mastitis. I have heard it can be very painful but very possible.

 

“my baby is having an allergic reaction to my breast milk so the pediatrician said I need to switch to formula”

It is actually EXTREMELY rare for a baby to be allergic to his mother’s breast milk. Our milk is made for our babies. There are extreme cases of life threatening illnesses (galactosemia being the most common but still very rare) where immediate weaning is the only choice. In most cases, what is confused is that baby is reacting to food proteins that have been passed into the mother’s milk after she ate it. Most common being dairy. I talk about this in my blog post, Breastfeeding a Child With Food Allergies. If your child’s pediatrician is recommending weaning, I highly encourage the mother to start an elimination diet and contacting her local La Leche League or lactation consultant for assistance.

 

I hope this has been helpful to any mamas who are currently breast feeding and don’t have a lot of support or any woman wanting to eventually breast feed. I do believe having faith in yourself PLUS having a support system helps with having success. My husband has been 100% supportive in me breastfeeding our children and I know that has really played a huge role in our breastfeeding journey. If you have questions, please post in the comments. I am in no way a certified lactation consultant, so if you are really struggling, I urge you to contact one. Also, if you are looking for support, look for your local La Leche League group. If there is a question or myth you didn’t see in this 2 part series, please leave it in the comments and I just might make a part 3. Also, if you like what you see, please share and “like” my post at the bottom of this page!

Breast feeding is really more than just feeding your child. It is also comfort, bonding and love. It is one of the most rewarding things I have been able to do for our children as a parent and I feel extremely lucky that I have been able to do it. If you are a mama wanting to breastfeed, I urge you to prepare yourself mentally. Check out the resources I love below for more information. You can do it!

Did you miss Part 1? Check it out here.

 

Resources I Love:

 

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information in this blog is my opinion and should only ever be used in place of your doctor’s advice at your own risk. As always, do your research and decide what is best for you and your family!

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

PRT – Primal Pit Paste

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An important part of living naturally is using chemical free products. I have slowly switched MANY, if not almost all of our body care products to being safe and without nasty chemicals we can’t even pronounce. I have had great success with lotions, face washes, soaps, shampoos, conditioners and make up. But the one thing I have tried a few brands of with little to no success is deodorant. And of course, deodorant is probably one of the most important haha. No one wants to be the smelly person 🙂 And unfortunately, since I have not been able to find a chemical free deodorant that works, I have been forced to use conventional brands which is less than desired.

That is until one of the bloggers I follow put up a video about having the same issues as myself but she had found the product that works for her! She had a discount code so I decided to purchase a couple samples from the brand in different scents and strengths and put it to the test.

Enter Primal Pit Paste!!!

Enter Primal Pit Paste!!!

It was great timing too! We are just getting into summer and have been experiencing almost constant 80 degree weather during the day time. So I knew if I was going to test out a new deodorant, now was the time 😉

Primal Pit Paste uses natural and organic ingredients. No artificial fragrances, only essential oils. No aluminum or parabens. They are cruelty free, vegan and extremely safe for our bodies! All the ingredients are easy to pronounce and are real things such as baking soda, coconut oil and shea butter.

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They come in jars, like above (note the above pictures are sample sizes, actual product is bigger) or sticks, similar to convential deodorants. All you do is 2-3 swipes of the stick in each pit or rub a pea size amount out of the jars in each pit and you are good to go. They have 3 different strengths: light, regular and strong. The way it works will depend on your body’s chemistry, you will need to find your desired strength. The company recommends starting with regular strength and adjusting up or down as needed. I got samples in all 3 strengths and found that light is great for me for everyday use. I use regular on days I plan to spend more outside and have had NO funk whatsoever! 😉 So far, I have not had to try the strong. And a little goes a looooong way which is great. I have been using one of these little jars which are .25 oz, for 2 weeks and still have plenty. Plus, I have not had a day where I need to apply it more than once and some days, I don’t even have to use it.

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The other thing I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is that it feels like I don’t have any deodorant on! There is no clumping or residue.

I am so excited about this product because it seems like I have searched for so long and it was really discouraging that I had to use conventional, chemical laden deodorant when I hated it. If you are looking for a safe, natural brand I highly encourage you to check out Primal Pit Paste! It really works!

 

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti & “Meat”balls

Every Monday I will be posting a “Meatless Monday” recipe. I wanted to try a new recipe I have had pinned for a while. I have never really been a meat ball person and all my real meat, meat balls I have tried making in the past ended up gross, greasy messes. But these ones from Oh She Glows just sounded yummy and I made sure to try them out this month during my vegan challenge.

Yes, it IS vegan

Yes, it IS vegan

I made them during the day and just reheated them in our spaghetti sauce before serving. If you plan on making them with dinner, I would make sure you give yourself a good hour to make the “meat”balls from start to finish. They freeze well, so that is also a good option if you make them a day or more in advance!

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I love that these held together so nicely even after simmering in the sauce, a big plus for me considering that they have no real egg to bind them… gotta love flax eggs 😉

Before going into the oven

Before going into the oven

Nicely browned, fresh out of the oven

Nicely browned, fresh out of the oven

They have the perfect look and texture you could expect in a meat ball, especially surprising for them technically being bean balls haha

I really like the colors! Hidden carrots in there for picky toddlers

I really like the colors! Hidden carrots in there for picky toddlers

They were very yummy without being too overpowering. And even better, I had plenty of bean balls leftover to freeze for 2 other meals in the future! Definitely something you want to try if you are a busy mom and have days you just don’t want to cook a whole meal from scratch. Even if you are not vegan, these pass the test. They make a great Meatless Monday meal so go ahead and give them a try!!

You can find the recipe here

 

 

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

3 Year Breastfeeding Milestone: Busting Common Myths *PART 1*

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Shayne nursing at 18 months old

 

This month marks 36 months 3 years that I have been breastfeeding one of my children. My first son self weaned, while I was pregnant with his brother, when he was 22 months. And now my second son is still nursing at 14 months of age! In this post, I will touch on my breastfeeding journey and bust down common myths I have heard.

When I got pregnant with my first son, Shayne, I knew I wanted to breastfeed without a doubt. I figured that is why I have breasts, why women lactate during and after pregnancy and it just seemed like the natural thing to do, and of course, IT’S FREE! It wasn’t until I started reading books and I took a class that I realized breast milk and breastfeeding is so much more than food or the alternative to formula. Breastfeeding for me has become a beautiful act of bonding and love. I feel so grateful to have been able to supply both of my children with the best nutrition possible. My breast feeding journey has been amazing and I will be quite honest, it has come pretty easy to me. Even though Shayne was born via cesarean section, I made sure to try and nurse him right away when I finally was out of recovery. We had a few latch issues in the beginning and I quickly learned to listen to my gut instincts and listened to his cues. I was able to nurse him just shy of two years when he decided he was done. With Braydon, I felt even more prepared, I had been through it before and knew what to look for when it came to latch issues. He was a bit more eager to nurse and was a pro from day one. The first couple days, we perfected his latch and we have been going strong since.

Of course, I believe that I prepared myself and had realistic expectations and I know this played a huge part in the ease and success I have had. I took a class while I was pregnant that was all about breastfeeding, pumping, how to solve common issues etc and I have read numerous books and articles on the subject. I also had a wonderful support system. My mom breast fed my brother and myself. My husband went to the breastfeeding class with me and learned a lot as well and supported me 100%. I know breastfeeding can be very hard and trying for many moms, especially those who don’t have support. I only hope that the following information will be helpful for new moms who are interested in breast feeding.

I decided to split this into two posts because it is a lot of information!

BUSTING THE MYTHS

“there is nothing special about breast milk, you can get the same nutrition from formula”

Breast milk is probably the most amazing liquid or “super food” out there. It is high in fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, hormones and immune boosters. In fact, when a nursing mother or child is sick or exposed to an illness or germs, the mother’s milk will create antibodies against these germs and in turn the nursing baby will receive these antibodies. Now while formula does contain essential fats, vitamins, minerals, hormones and enzymes they are artificial and not absorbed nearly as well and the enzymes/ hormones while not human to begin with, many are destroyed through processing. The protein in breast milk is also much easier digested while the casein protein in formula can be very difficult for many babies to digest and many are allergic to it at some point or another.

 

“if I breastfeed, I won’t ever get a break or be able to leave the house”

While it may seem like you are constantly nursing during the first few weeks, it is all worth it and baby is busy building your supply up. The thing with breast milk is that a baby’s body is able to digest it so well and efficiently, that they do tend to eat more often than a baby who is formula fed. Typically, once a breast fed baby reaches the second or third month, they will start to spread out the time between feedings. As far as being able to go out, I personally was not up for leaving my baby the first couple months. I simply would bring my baby with me and wear him in a baby carrier or ring sling. I was able to breast feed him in these and get out of the house. Some mothers choose to pump their milk so they can leave bottles if they decide to leave the house without baby. I do warn mother’s to wait at least 4-6 weeks before introducing a bottle of breast milk to avoid nipple confusion and to be sure that their supply has been established.

Out with Braydon (3-4 weeks old). Highly recommend baby wearing. Makes breastfeeding discreet ;-)

Out with Braydon (3-4 weeks old). Highly recommend baby wearing. Makes breastfeeding discreet 😉

 

“I want my partner, husband, mother etc to be able to bond with baby by feeding him too”

This one always confuses me when I hear it. Not because I think it is a bad reason or an excuse, but because I find it silly that some people think the only way to bond with a baby is by feeding him. My husband would be the first person to tell you he has had no problem whatsoever bonding with our two boys early on. I was working part time with our first so he did get to feed him a bottle a few times but Braydon has never, I repeat never received a bottle. And I would say he is very much quite fond of my husband. Same thing with grandparents. I know my mom feels that she has been able to bond with both of her grandchildren without having to feed them. Other ways I like to suggest to families who are wondering how Daddy can bond in the early months would be: skin to skin contact, changing diapers, letting mom take a shower by herself while he watches baby or baby wearing.

 

“You must nurse baby no sooner than every 2 hours and no later than every 4 hours”

I was told by the postpartum nurses after my first son was born this. I was told to write down the time and how long he nursed on each side. In fact when I was in the hospital after my csection, the nurse would come in every 2 hours on the dot and if I wasn’t nursing him, she would ask me why and tell me I had to. And if I tried nursing him before the 2 hour mark, I was told I will give him an upset stomach. By his third week of life, I read another book and decided I would watch my baby not the clock and that was the best thing I could do. By the time I had my second son, it made breastfeeding even less stressful because I could offer the breast anytime, if he nursed great, if not, that’s fine too. Another way to think about it, do you eat at the same time every day? Probably not. Why should we expect our babies to wait two hours if they are hungry at 1 hour and 30 minutes? Listen to you baby!

 

“my baby’s pediatrician said I am overfeeding my baby because he nurses so much”

The great thing about breast feeding: you CANNOT over feed an exclusively breast fed baby. By exclusively breast fed I am referring to the baby does not receive anything else (solids, formula) besides breast milk. And just because this one bugs me so much, I will repeat, YOU CANNOT OVERFEED AN EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFED BABY!

 

“my baby’s pediatrician says I have to supplement with formula because he has jaundice”

I was told this with BOTH of my boys during their first week of life. And guess what? I did not supplement, I nursed as often as my baby wanted and their jaundice cleared up by their 2 week check. However, neither of my boys had extreme cases of jaundice, as I realize some babies do. But even according to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM), who published protocol in treatment of jaundice in breastfed babies, supplementation should only be used in certain cases such as:

i. A clear indication of inadequate intake as defined by weight loss in excess of 10% after attempts to after attempts to correct breastfeeding problems.

ii. Failure in milk production or transfer adjusted for duration of breastfeeding and documented by pre- and post feeding weights after attempts to increase milk production and milk transfer.

iii. Evidence of dehydration defined by significant alterations in serum electrolytes, especially hypernatremia, and or clinical evidence of significant dehydration (poor skin turgor, sunken fontanelle, dry mouth, etc.).

I highly recommend any mother who is told to supplement because of jaundice read the article. The ABM also states that:

Jaundice and some degree of hyperbilirubinemia are normal and expected aspects of newborn development. Breastfeeding is also a normal and expected aspect of infancy and childhood. 53

If you are a breastfeeding mother and are told you need to supplement and are worried about supply, I highly encourage you to seek out a certified lactation consultant.

 

“my baby’s pediatrician says I have to supplement with formula because according to growth charts, my baby isn’t growing at the rate he would like to see or is below average on the growth charts”

I know firsthand that being slow to grow or below average is not a reason to rush and supplement. My first, once he turned a year, started to plateau and his growth slowed a bit. He also started walking and becoming much more active around this time. We also found out he was allergic to some foods so we were making a lot of changes in his diet and my diet since he was still nursing. I actually ended up switching drs and getting a second opinion and 3rd opinion before finding a dr who supported my choices and said there is nothing wrong with his growth. He was small but he was growing at his own rate and on his own curve. This can happen to many babies. Many drs also use charts for formula fed babies which will show different growth curves compared to breast fed babies. If your baby’s dr recommends supplementation due to baby not growing according to the charts, I would say visit a certified lactation consultant and get a 2nd opinion. A lactation consultant can also do weigh in feeds to make sure baby is transferring enough milk. Sometimes correcting latch is all you need! And last but not least, have a doctor check for tongue tie, especially if baby seems like he is struggling to get milk out or just seems to be having a hard time at breast (fussy, latching/unlatching, painful latch).

 

Please leave comments if there are any other myths you want addressed and I will add it to PART 2! There are MANY more myths I will be busting in the next post!

 

 

 

Resources I Love:

 

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information in this blog is my opinion and should never be used in place of your doctor’s advice.

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

PRT – Yummi Pouch

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This weeks Product review Tuesday (PRT) is Yummi Pouch! If you are a parent to a baby or toddler, you have probably seen those baby foods that come in foil pouches. Yummi Pouches let you have the same luxury while controlling ingredients and making less waste. They are reusable food pouches that you can take on the go or use at home.

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We have bought our fair share of store bought baby foods that come in pouches simply because they have organic options and they are GREAT for when we are on the go. I have seen many of these reusable pouches on the market and decided to give these a try from Amazon. They are 6 oz, so bigger than store bought and you can fill them with whatever you want. They come in white or these bright beautiful colored ones! The brand also offers many sizes: white mini (2.5 oz), white or brights (6 oz) or sport (10 oz). Another perk is they are freezer AND dishwasher safe! They are made out of phthalate and BPA free plastic…and best of all, they are cost effective and eco friendly!!

My boys enjoy stealing my smoothies and with a 3 year old and 1 year old trying to sip from my straw and the younger one trying to steal the straw, it can get messy. With these, I can make them healthy, delicious smoothies or homemade applesauce with no added nasty ingredients and put it in the pouches and they can go to town. For a variety, we can also fill it with dairy free yogurt since we have dietary restrictions. Plus, they think it is fun eating out of these colorful pouches.

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I was curious to see how it would work with the spout being on the side as opposed to the top like store bought pouches, but if anything, it helps keep messes controlled. My younger son loves to be independent and feed himself. With store bought pouches, when they are first opened and still full, it is easy for him to give it the smallest squeeze and there would be a mess. With the spout on the side, I have noticed it doesn’t come pouring out so easily if he squeezes it. The other concern of mine is the end where it opens. It is like a Ziploc bag where you just press it closed. So far they have held up nicely and have not leaked or burst open, even after being frozen!

Filled, sealed and ready to go!

Filled, sealed and ready to go!

They could not wait to get their hands on it!

They could not wait to get their hands on it!

I LOVE that these pouches can be put in the freezer. Especially with summer time approaching, it is so nice knowing that I can freeze smoothies in them and when we get to our destination, they will be thawed and still cold. I have not had a chance to see how long they stay cold for outside of the freezer, but will be sure to post an update when I do.

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They stack nicely in the freezer

So far so good! For the price, they are totally worth it! I paid $12 for the 4 pack and they will quickly pay for themselves considering one pouch store bought that you can’t reuse runs around $1.50+ each and these reusable ones are bigger. Check out their website for more information on their products here.

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All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

Breastfeeding a Child With Food Allergies

I will be concentrating on the subject of breastfeeding this month. This month mark 3 years that I have been nursing one of my children. It is something very important to me. Although, these posts are not meant to bash or put down any mother who wasn’t able to breast feed as long as she would liked or just chose not to breast feed, I will be stressing the importance of breastfeeding. I believe there can never be too much information out there on the subject. One aspect that has been part of my breastfeeding journey is food allergies. I personally know a few moms who dealt with food allergies in a nursing child and have also heard of MANY moms going through it. There seems to be much misinformation on the subject and I would like to share my story and opinion on the matter.

My first child was born in January of 2011. Luckily, I was able to exclusively breastfeed him until he started solids. During his 3rd month of life, we noticed he was getting red rashes on his cheeks and behind the folds in his knees and creases of his elbows. Of course, being a first time mom, I made sure to bring it up to his pediatrician at the time. The doctor assured me it was normal and that many infants get this “baby eczema” and that it would go away over time. I trusted our pediatrician and didn’t think anything of it. This was until it started getting much worse! It was at the point, people would ask me what is wrong with his face since the rashes were so noticeable and raw, red. At another appointment, I brought it up to his doctor again. I was told I could use hydrocortisone cream on it and it would help clear it up. Even though I wasn’t as “natural” as I am now, I still looked for the most natural form of this cream, knowing it is a steroid. We went with the Aveeno brand of it and started using it. It did help in reducing it but it never went away. I knew this wasn’t normal but still trusted my doctor that it would one day clear up.

Shayne almost 6 months, you can see the bright red rashes on his face :-(

Shayne almost 6 months, you can see the bright red rashes on his face 😦

By the time, he was 10 months, we started introducing more solids and noticed that EVERYTHING we would feed to him, he would break out in hives and get itchy around his mouth, neck, hands…basically anywhere that touched the food. This scared me as I knew it was some sort of allergic reaction. We immediately put solids on hold and this time I demanded that his pediatrician give me a referral to a pediatric allergist. I was scared to feed my child and this was not okay. Right before his first birthday, we got an appointment with an allergist. We explained everything we had been going through and he confirmed my gut instincts in that the eczema was NOT normal. He said that it is most likely food allergies and that since I was nursing, the eczema was caused by me eating what he was allergic to and him getting it through my milk causing the reaction. We were able to do skin testing since he was almost a year old and we didn’t know how many things he would be allergic too considering it seemed he was reacting to everything. We were able to confirm all dairy, all egg, avocado and strawberries. We were told to avoid them in everything and if I wanted to continue nursing, that I would have to cut it out of my diet.

This was a lot to take in. I went home and found that dairy and egg is seriously in EVERYTHING! …well almost. Right away, I quit eating dairy and eggs and we noticed his eczema started clearing up within a week of me removing these things from my diet. It was a huge adjustment but well worth it if I could continue giving my child the best nutrition. I felt guilty that I didn’t try harder and that essentially it was my milk making my child feel bad. It not only explained his eczema but also his issues with sleeping (we had to make sure he was at an incline because he would spit up a lot), his gassiness and just overall fussiness as a baby.

Today he is almost 3 1/2 years old. We do see an allergist regularly, we left his previous pediatrician due to his lack of concern and other issues. Shayne has been diagnosed as asthmatic this year on top of his food allergies. He has outgrown 2 of his 4 allergies but is still VERY allergic (however, not anaphylactic) to all dairy and all eggs. We do have an epi- pen with us at ALL times now and keep one in the house. His eczema has cleared up 100% without any medications or steroid creams. We are very diligent in watching what he eats and we typically prepare and bring food for him everywhere we go to be safe. He is a happy, healthy, normal 3 year old. To him, this is normal.

Shayne, 3 yrs, about to enjoy "safe" dessert from a vegan restaurant

Shayne, 3 yrs, about to enjoy “safe” dessert from a vegan restaurant

I wanted to tell our story because I have also heard many moms be told they MUST stop nursing and feed either soy or anti-allergen formula when they experience food allergies in their nursing babies. In most cases, doing food elimination, if baby is younger or allergy testing when baby is older (like we did) will help you avoid having to quit nursing. I understand some mothers have kids who have an endless list of food allergies and an anti-allergen formula may be easier. Of course that is something each individual family would have to weigh the pros and cons and decide on their own. With us though, me avoiding the foods was the natural answer. I knew breastfeeding was best for my child and me cutting those foods out of my diet was easy (and still cheaper) than buying a hypoallergenic formula. Plus, I knew this way he could continue getting the added benefits past infancy from nursing which I figured he needed considering everything his body went through most of his first year.

Signs of Possible Food Allergies in a Breast Fed Baby

Symptoms typically show up within 4-24 hours of exposure in breast fed babies:

  • eczema
  • fussiness after nursing
  • inconsolable crying and issues sleeping
  • stool with blood or mucous
  • hives or other skin rashes
  • ear infections
  • dry skin
  • wheezing or asthma
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • gas, stomach upset
  • vomiting or a lot of spitting up

Most common food allergies are cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy and corn.

If you suspect your baby has a food allergy, it is typically recommended to start with dairy, as that is most commonly the culprit. The mother should eliminate that food from her diet for a minimum of 3 weeks or more as many allergens can stay in your system for a week or longer after eliminating it. If you notice an improvement in baby’s symptoms after removing a certain food, it is most likely a culprit. If no improvement, then it may be time to eliminate another food. Some mom’s will eliminate all of the main common allergens and after a month or so, start reintroducing one at a time over the course of a couple weeks per allergen and once symptoms pop back up, they can pin point which one is the culprit. Depending on the severity of symptoms, the mother may be able to just limit the amount she eats of that allergen instead of completely eliminating it.

Dairy Allergies

Many people confuse dairy allergy with being lactose intolerant. They are two different things. Having a dairy allergy is when the individual is allergic to the protein in cow’s milk. This is why many who are allergic to dairy can also be sensitive to beef. Many will also be sensitive to goat’s milk as the proteins are similar. Many will also react to soy. Being lactose intolerant is when the person’s body has a slower time in breaking down the sugar, lactose. Switching to a lactose free diet, will not help a person who has a dairy allergy. The good thing, is many children outgrow their dairy allergy by 6-18 months and most will by 3 years of age.

Preventing Food Allergies

As far as preventing food allergies, there isn’t a sure fire way to do this. Of course genetics and family history play a huge role in whether or not a child will have food allergies. According to AAP guidelines, a mother should not avoid or eliminate any foods during pregnancy or breast feeding. There is very little evidence that delaying solids past 6 months decreases chances of having food allergies. Exclusive breast feeding for the first 4-6 months is recommended and endorsed with continuing to breastfeed until a year or beyond. If formula is to be used, soy is no longer the main recommendation in preventing dairy allergies, like in the past. AAP is recommending hydrolyzed formula be used instead which does contain cow proteins but they are broken down so they are less likely to be allergenic. They are also saying there is no need to delay certain allergenic foods such at dairy, eggs or peanuts but don’t give an outline on how to go about introducing these to at risk or high risk babies.

As always, contact your pediatrician or allergist when seeking medical advice. But just know that having a nursling with food allergies does not mean you must end your breastfeeding journey. Shayne went on to nurse until just before his second birthday, a whole year after we found out about his food allergies. It can be very challenging and was a huge adjustment for me but in the end it paid off and I don’t regret making the changes I did.

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The contents of this blog are my own opinion and experiences. If you are needing advice, always contact a medical professional.

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