.allergies.

Since R’s last post, Bram’s seemingly painful digestive issues have gotten worse. He often cries out during/after feedings, he’s spitting up much more frequently (and projectile vomited once last Thursday), the sleep “routine” that he had been in since coming home from the hospital is now disrupted, and he will no longer lay on his back for naps during the day (he never did this well, but he would occasionally). Also, he has a red, splotchy rash all over his face, scalp, and neck. When it first appeared, we assumed that it was the onset of baby acne. However, it quickly became quite inflamed and spread beyond just his face. After a good bit of research and a call to our lactation consultant, our hypothesis is that he’s having an allergic reaction to something in my diet (most likely dairy). It seems that allergies can actually induce reflux. On top of that, my oversupply of milk and overactive letdown are compounding the issue, making feedings that much more unpleasant.

As of last Thursday, I cut all of the dairy out of my diet in the hopes that it might resolve the issue. I’ve also eliminated or moderated some of the other “colic” culprit foods, though I’m not doing the full elimination diet at current (out of the hope that it’s simply a dairy allergy). We’ve also been keeping him upright for at least 30 minutes after each feeding and we raised his changing table to a 45 degree angle (since this was a place he was spitting up frequently). Because of the overactive letdown, I’ve already been feeding him exclusively upright (in the “biological nurturing” position). Still, he seems to not feel good during most of his waking time these days. It just breaks our hearts to not be able to take his pain away. He cries real tears and screams out at a high, warbling pitch. We’ve tried infant massage, baby yoga, playtime sitting up in the boppy, allowing him to take all of his daytime naps laying on us, etc, but nothing satiates him for more than a little piece of time. We also ordered a Mamaroo swing through Amazon yesterday, which is supposed to mimic parental movement. We’re hoping that if he’s comfortable napping in the swing, we might be able to put him down for stretches during the day. As it stands, it’s hard for us to get much work done. This is especially difficult for R, as she has grading, prep, and writing to do. Not easy tasks while holding (and trying to only jostle just enough) a 10 pound baby on your chest.

We’re planning on making an appointment with our FNP early next week to get a professional opinion. In the meantime, though, we’d love to know if anyone in blog land has dealt with these sorts of issues. We know that they aren’t major issues, but it would be great if anyone had any tips or tricks that made this time more bearable for Bram and for us…

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14 thoughts on “.allergies.

  1. Colic set in for L around 4 weeks and lasted until she was 3-4 months old. The hours from 5-10 at night were the worst and ultimately, only bouncing on the exercise ball helped. She was a huge spitter — loads and loads of spit up (very often it was projectile) after every feeding and nothing we did made any difference. It got to the point where I would feed her and sort of tip her sideways so she would spit up on the wood floor, which was easier to clean up than clothing or furniture. She cried a lot and I considered allergies, but she never seemed in acute pain and never had any other symptoms (and our pediatrician didn’t have any concerns about allergies either). I can sympathize with you and know how hard it is to see your little baby unhappy and not be able to do anything about it. Ultimately, we just had to wait for her to grow out of it — though even now, she is a terrible eater and getting her to consume any “real” food is a daily challenge.

  2. How awful for all of you!
    Our little guy was a big spitter-upper, but didn’t seem to suffer too much otherwise. We did a lot of what you’ve already mentioned –keeping him upright after feedings was a big one for us, as was inclining his mattress. We also got him on a probiotic that our naturopath recommended. If you do go this route, your naturopath may also be able to recommend something for you like papaya enzyme that may help. I’d definitely check before starting anything though. Jen also alternated between breasts when feeding and made sure to burp him about half way through. That helped with the spitting up, though it didn’t eliminate it.
    I hope you are able to figure out something that helps.

  3. You just described Goldie’s early weeks almost to a T. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s very stressful and so hard to see your baby in pain. The good news is that Goldie outgrew a lot of the symptoms we associate with reflux and I know a lot of other babies do too. We think she had reflux in addition to difficulty digesting early on and then outgrew the reflux and some of the worst digestive stuff after a couple of months. She doesn’t have a trace of reflux now. Our ped said it’s very common for this to happen.

    We experimented a lot and some things worked for us some of the time and did nothing other times. Here are some ideas.

    We liked Colic Calm(http://www.coliccalm.com/). We used it a ton in the beginning and it often seemed to help – a few times even miraculously bringing her from meltdown to sleep in a few minutes. It’s a little weird to use because there’s charcoal in it and so the baby drools black for a bit (especially crazy when she’s screaming in the middle of the night and black goo comes out of her mouth…).

    We had a very hard time putting her on her back too. We still can’t put her down much – she prefers to be held – but she loves being on her back to play and can sleep that way now.

    We did all the same stuff with raising her changing pad, buying the Mamaroo (which we sold a month later because Goldie didn’t love it) and keeping her upright 30 minutes post-feeding. We found the Moby Wrap really comforted her and was a good way to keep her upright post-eating without losing all hope of using our hands.

    Goldie really liked bouncing on the exercise ball (we bought one with a sand bag in it so it doesn’t roll away from our sleep-deprived selves).

    We had great success initially with gripe water but found that it sometimes made her throw up so we stopped using it. But some people swear by it.

    We used Boiron colic relief drops (http://www.amazon.com/Boiron-Cocyntal-Colic-Relief-ct/dp/B000WUJ8F6) and liked them sometimes (we also used the one for teething – a homeopath recommended that for G). They’re easier to administer than Colic Calm (less volume), so that was nice. We’ve also had luck with plain old gas drops (I don’t love that most of them are dyed and flavored, but desperate times…).

    This might not be good advice for B, but Fern said that side-lying has been the best way for Goldie to regulate how much she gets (Fern also has heavy letdown). It’s counter-intuitive since it’s a lying down position, but for some reason Goldie has done really well in this position and had some of her happiest nursing this way.

    We also bought the Nap Nanny (I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how many desperate purchases we’ve made in the name of fixing this problem) and have actually loved it. I hate how pricey it is and I don’t know if I’d really recommend it since it’s another big thing. But for some reason it’s the right angle for her and she finds it comfy (it’s the only place we can put her down sleeping and have her stay asleep).

    Fern has done various levels of elimination from just dairy to just about everything except rice and potatoes and we haven’t noticed a difference. But she thinks taking papaya enzymes after eating helps.

    I might think of other things and add them later, but that’s a good overview of what we’ve done. We were so worried in the beginning when she developed these symptoms and, though we’re certainly not living easy now, things have improved so much. I hope they do for you too.

    Addendum from Fern, here – Olive asked me if I had any other thoughts and I have just a couple. You mentioned a lactation consultant so maybe this is already in play, but when I had oversupply and heavy letdown, block feeding saved the day – meaning that for 3 hour chunks of time, I would feed from one breast only. It wasn’t a perfect process, since at first it felt like the breast I hadn’t used for the last 3 hours was super full when its turn was up, but after about 2 weeks the oversupply was pretty much gone and the letdown was much easier. It was such a relief when G was no longer choking at every feeding.

    G wasn’t really interested in a pacifier in her first couple months but we read that it can be helpful with reflux – the saliva they produce is helpful in some way. Now she suddenly loves the pacifier and it’s been a great help to us when it comes to keeping her asleep or calm during transitions of any sort – into the car seat, from our arms to the nap nanny, etc.

  4. I just wrote probably the longest and most detailed comment I’ve ever written and it disappeared upon posting. I’m completely distraught but I’m going to try to recreate it.

    First of all, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. What you described sounds almost exactly like Goldie at that age. Goldie had reflux symptoms and bad gas/digestive issues but the good news is that she completely outgrew the reflux by about 2 months and the gas has gotten better. Our pediatrician said it’s common for babies to have reflux and outgrow it and we were so relieved to see how quickly Goldie’s went away. She now lies very happily on her back and her spit up is very normal/unpainful.

    We did a lot of the same things you did – upright for 30 minutes, raised changing table, Mamaroo purchase (we sold ours a month later because Goldie didn’t love it, but the good news is that they have a very high resell value – we got all our money back. Hopefully Bram will just love his though!). Fern also eliminated dairy and then everything (the strict elimination diet) but didn’t find much difference with diet changes.

    Nothing worked all of the time, but here are things that were helpful:

    Colic Calm (http://www.coliccalm.com/). We used this a TON in the beginning. It was often a bit helpful and a few times worked a miracle and turned a total meltdown into blissful sleep in a few minutes. It’s a little scary because there’s charcoal in it so the liquid is black and the baby can drool black goo (or scream out black goo – think possessed by the devil) after taking it.

    We also had some luck with the Boiron homeopathic remedies (http://www.amazon.com/Boiron-Cocyntal-Colic-Relief-ct/dp/B000WUJ8F6) – the colic one and the teething one (a homeopath recommended the teething variety for Goldie’s reflux and it worked well sometimes). They’re easier to administer than the colic calm – much less liquid and nice and clear but I’m not sure they worked quite as well.

    At first we loved gripe water but then Goldie threw up a couple times after taking it so we stopped using it. A lot of people swear by it, though.

    Moby Wrap was our best friend for keeping her upright and still being able to use our hands (I’m typing this now with Goldie in the wrap). I think its swaddle-like qualities helped too. She sleeps a ton in it and often calms right down when we put her in.

    Goldie was very comforted by bouncing on the exercise ball (I’m on that now too!). We bought one with a sand bag weight in it so it doesn’t fly away from our sleep deprived selves.

    We took Goldie to a chiropractor and that seemed helpful in the beginning, but ultimately we’re not sure it did much good.

    We also bought a Nap Nanny (I’m a little embarrassed to admit how many purchases we’ve made in the name of fixing this problem). I’m not sure if I would recommend it. On the one hand, it’s the only thing we can put her down in asleep with any hope that she’ll stay asleep. On the other, it’s an expensive additional sleep surface with a pretty limited life span.

    This is a little counter intuitive, but Fern found side lie nursing really helpful. Even though Goldie is on her side, not upright, it’s the position she’s most able to regulate intake in (Fern also had a heavy let down) and she seems really comfortable nursing this way. Goldie was a little older than Bram when she started using this position a lot, but you might want to try it if you haven’t already. We couldn’t put her on her back, but her side was ok.

    You might already know this if you’ve seen a lactation consultant, but block feeding (feeding on only one breast for three hour chunks of time) worked great for us. It’s not a perfect process because (according to Fern) for the first few days it feels like the breast that’s not in use is going to explode, but within two weeks, Fern’s oversupply was pretty much under control and letdown was much improved.

    Goldie wouldn’t take a pacifier until recently, but if Bram likes one they can really help with reflux because babies produce more saliva which eases the stomach pain. Since Goldie has started taking her pacifier, she’s been crying much less and has had longer stretches of being quiet and content out of our arms.

    If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know. It’s so hard to find the right tricks for your baby, but I just know it’s going to get better for you. Oh, we also just saw a homeopath on Saturday who’s prescribing a remedy for Goldie’s persisting gas and colic – I’ll let you know if we like that route. One thing that was wonderful about it was just talking with the doctor about Goldie and having her on our problem-solving team. It’s good to feel like someone else is puzzling through this with you. I know you two have a great support network which is wonderful.

    Much love.

  5. Its rough and totally exhausting! It could be colic, which if it is, is a wait for their system to mature and grow out of it situation :( each bubba is different. Here in NZ we get Woodwards Gripe Water, its fantastic and worked so well for my daughter. Winding is also super important as is having a really good technique. Try lying him down on his back about 5 mins after a feed counting to 10 and slowly lifting him up onto your shoulder while patting his back, this is so good for getting the stubborn wind up, that if left, builds up through the day and takes ages to get through their gut. It does get easier, I promise xxx

  6. As a follower of your blog and a therapist that works with new moms and babies I had to comment on this post. Anything that produces a rash is definitely a reaction of some sort. It is good that you cut dairy. If you have any soy in your diet, that might be worth checking also. Have you changed laundry detergent or soap?
    As far as the spitting it’s good that you are keeping him upright. Is it possible to burp him more frequently throughout feedings? He is clearly in pain and colic would not be causing pain. I know some people that swear by gripe water and others that think it does nothing. If you are in search of a natural approach I would highly suggest finding an acupuncturist that treats infants. At this age there are no needles involved. It is something that I have seen work incredibly well. Good luck. This too shall pass.

  7. this was not a fun thing for us either. i noticed it was worse when i ate dairy and spicy foods. in my reading it seemed opinions were split as to whether what i ate made a difference or not. i erred on the safe side. one thing that helped tremendously was “gripe water”. you can find it at target. it’s main ingredients are ginger and fennel. i decided it couldn’t hurt for me to ingest the same, so i started making and drinking large batches of ginger, fennel and chamomile tea. it worked very well. probably also wouldn’t hurt for jax to take supplements that support healthy digestion (probiotics, amino acids, etc.). during this period of time he slept in a swing that was constantly moving or a rocking chair (that could tilt back as a bed) that vibrated. lots of bath time (sitting in the tub letting him float while i held him lightly) was very relaxing for both of us. then just know that all babies go through this. it’s just part of the process of their digestive systems catching up. just like those sweet fleeting moments that renee described earlier…this will pass too. sending you hugs!

  8. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that little Bram is having trouble with digestive issues. We just started gripe water today to see if it would calm our little one down after eating. It sounds like you are already taking some good steps to make him more comfortable–I do hope you are able able to find a solution quickly. I’m gonna have to check out this Mamaroo thing too…

  9. That is the worst. We were having similar problems with Jude, but we are feeding very differently than you all. For us we were using bottles of half pumped breast milk half formula (we do half and half because S can’t pump enough to feed him on breast milk entirely) and Jude was clearly in pain and upset all of the time. So we switched to using half breast milk and half soy formula and that stopped all of the problems for us. Hopefully you all can figure something out! Poor baby and poor mamas!

  10. Poor you guys! Our little guy had similar issues when he was younger, and I remember so clearly how hard it was so hard to hear him screaming in pain. But after talking to his pediatrician, we found several things to do that helped a lot. He spent the first 3+ months of his life sleeping in a bouncy seat at night (to help keep him upright). He also took baby Zantac, and that made a huge difference for us. We had to adjust the dose a few times as he grew, and we could tell when it needed to be adjusted because the screamy-screamies would start again. We also bounced on the yoga ball A LOT. Good luck! Hope your FNP has some good suggestions.

  11. Baby zantac was a lifesaver for us…it led to much better sleeping since before we got a prescription for that, he HATED lying down. It’s good to express some milk before feeding if you have an overactive letdown. This prevents milk from spraying down the baby’s throat. Block feeding is also a great suggestion. This allows the baby to get less foremilk (watery, good for thirst) and more hindmilk (fatty, good for hunger). Good luck figuring everything out- I remember well how difficult this time can be.

  12. I wish I had something helpful to offer, but it sounds like you’ve got some great ideas here. The early days are so hard, but you guys are going to get through this. Hope you’ve gotten/will get some information you can work with at your appt and that you all are on the upswing soon.

  13. Oh also meant to say, tummy sleeping,I know, I know, we are told not to, but it helped so so much with my 2 wee ones. Just try it :-)

  14. Look at that, both my comments posted. I do not understand why WordPress was terrorizing me the other day. Well, now you can check my work to see how well I recreated the comment accurately. :)

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