HELP: Mama losing sleep over toddler's potential food sensitivities - Mothering Forums
Traditional Foods > HELP: Mama losing sleep over toddler's potential food sensitivities
maba's Avatar maba 10:20 AM 02-24-2012

ETA: I know this thread probably belongs in the Allergies section but I added it here since we follow a ancestral/traditional diet.


*Warning: Too many thoughts in my head right now and the following post may seem incoherent*


I have a 17 mo who has been breast-fed from birth and exclusively till he was one. He has been fairly healthy, with an occasional cold here and there that went away within a few days w/o any medication. He would sound slightly congested in the night sometimes and our pediatrician said that it is normal and has to do with the dry, cold weather where we live. He has some bumps on his left upper arm and the Ped said it's keratosis pilaris and that it's genetic and nothing to worry about. Hs cheeks sometimes get flushed and slightly bumpy. Again, the doctor said it is because of the cold weather. He has soft and blemish-less skin everywhere else. I'm convinced that skin health is greatly dependent on gut health. As for my son's diet, everything he eats is home-cooked: my own version of Primal + WAPF - veggies, fruit, meat, poultry, wild salmon (haven't tried shell-fish yet), ghee, butter, coconut oil, rice, lentils, occasionally soaked/sprouted beans. He has shown intolerance to eggs (organic, cage-free from grocery store), he's thrown up on the days (not immediately after eating it though) he's eaten eggs and I would give him only the yolks. But he seems to do ok with farm-eggs but I've been avoiding eggs anyway.


I also started giving him raw kefir about 2 weeks ago to improve his gut flora. Up until then, the only dairy he's eaten is ghee/butter/cream/ a little bit of organic pasteurized yoghurt/ sheep milk cheese. I noticed that he started having small dry patches on his left arm. It doesn't seem to bother him but I was worried. Also, he has been severely congested for the last 3-4 days - I think he has a cold. So I stopped giving him dairy altogether. Also, about 10 days ago we were traveling and we had to eat out for almost 4 days, he ate stuff from restaurants (processed cheese, deep-fried stuff and some other processed foods that I thought was the least unhealthful). So these patches on the skin could have been a result of the foods we ate when we were traveling, I don't know. His cheeks seem to get red after he eats something or breast-feeds. My husband, who is an MD and doesn't believe in food being medicine, said all kids have skin issues and that it is nothing to worry about. And that if I'm concerned I can apply hydrocortisone.


Excuse my rambling, I have too many thoughts going on in my head and can't seem to type it out coherently. Anyway, so I emailed my naturopath and he said he clearly has food sensitivities. And he said at his age, it's difficult to test using the electro-magnetic test that he employs and that an allergic test using blood may be a good start. And he also emailed me saying my son can't digest meat!!!! I have no idea how he came up with that conclusion. 


A little background about myself: I cured my dysmenorrhea of 20+ years by giving up gluten and adopting traditional fats 3 years ago. So I'm convinced diet is the best medicine. My husband, a very dedicated doctor, unfortunately thinks modern medicine is the solution and kind of believes in the conventional nutritional advice. So we have a LOT of disagreements on what to feed our child. In fact, I was feeding my son raw kefir without his knowledge!!! Drinking raw milk, according to him, is the height of ignorance and stupidity. So much so that I had to stop drinking raw milk when I was pregnant, it was so not worth the stress at home.


Have I lost you all yet? I've been reading about gut health and food intolerances and I'm literally losing sleep. This morning, toddler has a lot of undigested bits in his poop and one thread here in the forum said that could be a sign of damaged gut!!! And that reddish cheeks can signs of salicylate sensitivity. I thought i was feeding my son healthy and now I'm devastated to know that the foods I'm feeding him could be affecting to negatively. After I stopped the kefir, I started giving him Ther-biotic infant formula probiotic. I plan on giving him CLO too, just trying to research which s a good brand.


Also, I've been regretting the ABX dose I had to take for a UTI while I was pregnant with him. I did take probiotics with it though. Anyway, to come back to my question, am I over-reacting to his symptoms? What can I do to improve his gut-health? What can I do to alleviate his symptoms? What can I do to improve his immunity? 


P.S.: I'm convinced DH has bad gut flora. he has severe GERD, is fatigued all the time, eats a lot of processed foods - breads and such, has had fungal infection on his skin for as long as I have known him, SEVERE seasonal allergies (takes steroids every spring). According to him, drugs and prescription are the only solution. He refuses to believe diet can help him. He naively asks, "If diet could solve it, don't you think the medical community would have figured it out by now?" Just wanted to add to give you some idea about Dad's health too.

CoBabyMaker's Avatar CoBabyMaker 02:29 PM 02-24-2012

First of all, deep breath and big hug!  You can't go back and change what has already happened, you can only move forward.


If these dry patches are new I would wait a few weeks to see if they clear up since you suggested it might be from the processed foods he ate on your trip.  You mentioned that you are gluten-free...Is this the first gluten he's had?


I think you are right to keep him off all eggs.  Could something he ate on the trip have had egg in it?  I would also continue off dairy.

Giving him pro-biotics is also great!


I am curious why your naturopath said he isn't digesting meat.  What is that based on?  Also, I had my little ones tested with the bio-feed back machine and found it to be pretty accurate (as in, it confirmed the things we already knew and when we took them off the addition things their remaining symptoms cleared).  I would ask more about that personally. 


I would continue to keep him off gluten, dairy and eggs for 6 weeks at least.  You will have to have your husbands cooperation with this though.  Even a little of the allergen makes a difference as I am sure you know since you react to gluten. 

Maybe you could approach is something like: I know you don't believe in all of this but it's very important to me.  Would you agree to TRY this with me for 6 weeks to see if it makes a difference for him?


Hope that helps a little!

maba's Avatar maba 01:56 PM 02-25-2012

Thank you so much for your response CoBabyMaker! We are gluten-free at home but he's had gluten before - in restaurants, usually from his dad's plate. Also, may be about 3-4 days before I noticed the dry patches on the skin, I had a slice of cake that my friend brought when she visited me. It was home-made and I ate a slice to be polite. I usually don't have any immediate reaction from eating wheat-based foods. But when I eat it more than a few times a month, I end up with severe menstrual cramps. So I try to avoid it as much as I can (I guess gluten-free in my original post can be a bit mis-leading). I noticed again today that his cheek and ear are getting really flushed after eating/feeding. 


DH thinks it's all in my head and that I must not avoid feeding him certain foods. He keeps repeating these symptoms are normal in kids and it's impossible to find any kid who doesn't have any skin issue. I'm not sure how to convince him. But I'm just going to try and keep a food journal for both DS and I also eliminate dairy from both our diet.


I ordered Green Pastures FCLO. I'll see if it helps with these symptoms. 


Mamas (and Dads), please add whatever you think may help me. Even links, resources to learn more about these symptoms. It's so difficult to wade through all the information on the internet especially when the views and opinions are diametrically opposite to one another. TIA.

SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 10:03 PM 02-25-2012

Our daughter never had normal poops. Mostly diarrhea 4 times a day. Long story short on what we went through. At 2 the pediatric gastroenterologist said she had something called "Toddler Diarrhea" and she would outgrow it by 5. I kept reading around TD on the internet.


Also, I picked up her speech delay when she was 11 months. She started speech therapy at a year.


When our daughter was 2.5, I asked a friend when her son stopped needing speech therapy. She said, "When we took him off gluten." Hmmm...seemed a long shot, but my husband and I decided to try it. Three weeks later her speech exploded. We didn't know if it was a coincidence or the gluten, but decided to keep her off it. Then over the course of a week she got accidental gluten on a daily basis. Her speech stagnated. Then when she was gluten free for a month, another explosion in speech. She has had no gluten in almost a year and her speech has not stagnated since, she only keeps improving.


I kept reading about the toddler diarrhea. I found one post by one mom on some forum, I don't even know where. The mom said her son had been diagnosed with "Toddler Diarrhea" and speech delay. She took him off sensitive foods and both conditions got better. 


I went to a gluten free food fair and spoke with other moms whose kids' language got better when they were taken off gluten. Then I spoke with a naturopath about our daughter's diarrhea and he recommended a blood test to screen for 96 possible food allergies. I am an RN with a holistic way of life. However, I've never been much into naturopaths. (You can tell that to your husband if you share our story.) But I was open to help from anyone given that I had a child with such severe diarrhea that they even had to follow us through the children's museum cleaning up the poop as we rushed to the bathroom. So I went to our mainstream pediatrician. She was only going to order blood tests for the 12 most common allergens. I pushed for all 96.  We have a very flexible pediatrician and she agreed to it. Which was a good thing. The test showed cane sugar and tomatoes plus some other things that we eventually ruled out. Still, the results on cane sugar and tomatoes were so low our pediatrician said they weren't likely a problem. We still decided to eliminate them and see what happened. We did that for 6 weeks and she continued with the diarrhea. All my friends kept saying to eliminate dairy so we did. Three days later she had solid poops for the first time in her life. We were able to reintroduce the really minor sensitive foods without issue. When we tried to reintroduce tomatoes, someone accidentally gave our daughter something with cane sugar in the mix. For brevity, I'll just say it was easier to keep her off tomatoes for awhile.


We recently tried tomatoes again. She did fine. Then she didn't. It was weird. We finally figured out it was from the salsa at the one and only restaurant we go to. They don't add sugar to their foods, but it turns out the canned tomato sauce they use has added cane sugar. We figured this out in the restaurant and we hadn't brought her any salsa from home. She would have been devastated to not eat salsa. We left it up to her. We explained there was sugar in the salsa and it would probably give her icky poops. She ate only three chips which she lightly dipped into the salsa. Twentyfour hours later she had nasty diarrhea (her diarrhea is always about 24 hours after the food.) That's how sensitive she is to cane sugar. How little could there be in the salsa from three lightly dipped tortillas? (And it's only sugar from the cane sugar plant. She can eat beet sugar, coconut palm sugar, honey, agave syrup, and even the random HFCS she has stolen and eaten while hiding in the bathroom. But cane sugar will always do her in.)


So for your husband to say food doesn't cause problems is beyond ludicrous. Just like our (ex)pediatric gastroenterologist never suggesting it could be food sensitivities that was giving our toddler diarrhea four times a day. I emailed her a polite, but direct, letter telling her I had figured out what the problem was and resolved the problem and I hoped in the future she would consider food sensitivities before labeling diarrhea as "Toddler Diarrhea." (I have since chatted with many mothers online about their kids' "Toddler Diarrhea." All of them got better once sensitive foods were stopped.)


I know someone with an adopted baby who had horrible eczema. Fortunately, she has a great pediatrician who helped her figure out the food sensitivities. She now feeds the baby a formula she makes each day. (She got the recipe approved by her son's pediatric allergist.) He has no more eczema. She raves about how wonderful this allergist is. Not only does he understand mainstream medicine, he also understands how to utilize more holistic methods. He is smart enough to pick and choose the best from both worlds. Maybe you need to find a good pediatric allergist who also understands holistic care.


Let your husband know that neither of my babies (now 3.5 and 6) had skin problems. Not all kids have skin problems. If they do, there is likely something going on the mainstream medicine hasn't figured out yet. Sort of like my daughter's diarrhea. The ped GI said it was an immature gut. No, it was a food sensitivity. If your husband doesn't believe it's possible, he can come here, give my daughter a lollipop, then come by 24 hours later to see the diarrhea.


Once upon a time I changed dentists. The new dentist had his hands in my mouth and asked if I was a vegetarian. I have been asked that many times, but that was the most bizarre circumstance. I garbled out the best, "Yes," I could with someone's hands in my mouth. Eventually I asked him why he asked. He said vegetarians always have really healthy gums and my gums were really healthy. Ask your husband to explain that.

maba's Avatar maba 11:06 AM 02-26-2012

SundayCrepes, thank you so much for taking the time to share your daughter's story with me! Wow, cane sugar caused her the diarrhea?!! I don't know when the medical establishment will ever look at diet and nutrition as a means to solve health issues. It saddens me to see so many kids diagnosed with health issues who are on a perpetual cycle of medication-illness. If only the medical communtiy removed their blinders, we would be such a healthier society. I digress. So happy to know your daughter is doing well and hats off to you for persisting and finding out the trigger.


So, I mentioned my son's food sensitivity to DH yesterday and he thinks I'm a hypochondriac :( I've been reading up about the GAPS diet and that it can help with gut issues and food sensitivities. There's no way DH will agree to do GAPS and honestly, I'm not sure I want to cook separate meals for everyone in the family. I have a super-active toddler to take care of. But I was wondering if there are certain things from the diet that I can adopt to improve our gut health. We eat fairly clean at home but DS's diet tends to be very rice-heavy. DH insists he needs all the carbs he can get. What can I do to incorporate some of the healing protocols mentioned in the book (I haven't read the book yet) into our way of eating?

serenbat's Avatar serenbat 05:33 PM 02-26-2012

I just wanted to add - not all do have problems, many people (children too) can and do eat gluten and dairy and never have an issue- while it may be in your case it could also not be and one thing I did not see you mention is non-food allergies (environmental) that could be causing some concerns with your little one.


I do know that my 4 year old has undigested pea that you can see come out and it has nothing to do with a leaky gut (it's called talking and not chewing) and he gets red skin splotches if his skin touches cinnamon (not in foods but if it alone touches his skin) and it takes a day or so to go away. Clearly not what you are dealing with.


I do find it troubling what your Dr. says about the meat and wonder what this is based on?? Given him saying that-how much else do you trust from him?


While your DH may not agree he maybe basing it on -


IMO- regardless if your child does or does not have real intolerance and or allergies, not being on the same page about things can lead to real problems down the road and having a food issue in a child is not healthy for the child


hope you are able to work things out

SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 06:02 PM 02-26-2012

Perhaps find some studies on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition These are bona fide medical studies. If he doesn't like these, then he's an old fart of a doctor. Do a search on eczema, probiotics, whatever you think is important. Find the studies you think he needs to read. 

lizzylou's Avatar lizzylou 08:00 AM 02-27-2012

Hi, not a lot of time to read and post but I wanted to recommend GAPS. My daughter has severe GI issues and GAPS is helping. Also the rest of my family follows the "full" version of GAPS. Very few complaints from my husband, he loves the food! There are a lot of goof recipes out there. My husband can eat what he wants on his own time but he agrees not to bring crap home. Amazingly his taste buds have changed, even just following the diet 50% of the time. He used to love Doritos and now finds them totally unsatisfying. Hope that helps, I will try to check back in case you have any questions. 

maba's Avatar maba 08:21 PM 03-03-2012

Thanks for your input everyone. I'm really racking my brain to see what could be causing theses issues with my toddler. Also, he's extremely clingy (which be normal toddler behavior or food sensitivity). I mean I've always had dairy (and that too the homogenized, ultra-pasteurized stuff until recently) and if he was sensitive to it, he would have had these skin issues when he was exclusively breastfed, right? He's had cream, lots of sheep's milk cheese, some yoghurt in the past, but I noticed these symptoms only recently. I was so happy when he took a liking to kefir considering how nutritious it is. Could it be a case of die-off from all that kefir that both of us were drinking (he is BFed)? 

On the one hand, I don't want to give him something that could be a potential allergen but at the same time don't want to hold it off without knowing for sure. I tried not giving him any dairy for a few days. But the last couple of days he's been pointing to the fridge and asking for kefir and cheese and I gave in today :(


I'll be taking him to the Pediatrician for his 18 month check in a few weeks, will ask him about food sensitivity and testing.

SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 09:43 PM 03-03-2012

Allergies can develop over time.


Maybe try Daiya vegan cheese. My daughter prefers the cheddar to the mozzarella. I don't really like it, but she does.


Not only can she not have dairy, she can't have cane sugar, and I don't buy stuff with carageenan. That leaves exactly one brand of yogurt--amande. It's made from almond milk and is fruit juice sweetened. Maybe try a non-dairy yogurt to see if he'd like that.

Tags: Traditional Foods