Monday, July 23, 2012

How I helped my bottle-fed baby through reflux

Lily and Sophie drinking their cow's milk bottles.

Our first daughter, Lily, was always the picture of health and didn’t get her first sniffle till she was18 months old, despite being put on antibiotics at birth for a suspected Strep B infection.

When our second daughter, Sophie, was born naturally without antibiotic or drug intervention, I felt sure she would follow in her sister’s healthy footsteps. This meant I was totally unprepared for dealing with reflux and the associated health issues Sophie had.

Because Sophie was mostly bottle-fed (due to my lack of supply), I felt stuck as to what I could do to help her. I examined ingredients on different tins of formula and didn’t like all the high fructose corn syrup and soy I saw in non-dairy formulas. So I offered Sophie the best formula option I could think of… goat’s formula.

The switch to goat’s formula helped settle down Sophie’s diarrhoea somewhat, but she still suffered from tummy pain and wind. She also had a permanently snotty nose and chesty cough.

Our doctor prescribed infant Gaviscon for the tummy pain, which we alternated with Infacol in Sophie’s bottles to help with wind. These two drugs alleviated some of Sophie’s symptoms, but certainly didn’t solve the underlying problem.

It wasn’t until Sophie was about 7 months' old and I read Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Dr Natasha-Campbell McBride, that I realised there was more I could do for Sophie.

Her problems, I learned, were caused by an imbalance in her digestive tract. Not enough of the right kind of beneficial bacteria meant she couldn’t process dairy properly. Gluten was also a problem when we introduced that later.

So I put some of Dr Campbell-McBride’s advice into practice, as well as other tips I picked up around the place in order to heal Sophie’s gut and boost her health.

Steps I took to heal Sophie’s gut

  • I started feeding Sophie warmed chicken or lamb stock via a bottle with a sippy straw. I make stock regularly and always have a stash in the freezer, which I serve to Sophie by heating a little on the stove and mixing with cold water to make it the right temperature for her. Bone broths are a great place to start with reflux babies because they are both gentle on the gut and incredibly healing. They are also full of wonderful minerals and vitamins, which our babies need to grow and develop well.
  • I introduced plain homemade yoghurt (full of probiotics) and then milk kefir into Sophie’s diet. Just half a teaspoon to begin with, and then slowly increasing the amount as her gut began to heal and she could tolerate more. Her intolerance to dairy was never as bad as some babies I know, so she was able to cope with this and it helped transition her to being able to tolerate more forms of dairy. The kefir introduced beneficial bacteria into Sophie’s gut, and the yoghurt helped feed and encourage this good bacteria.
  • I started feeding Sophie a teaspoon of organic unrefined coconut oil once or twice a day. She loved the taste, it was gentle on her gut and it gave her some of the good fats and lauric acid she was missing by not getting my breast milk.
  • I started adding a few drops of fermented cod liver oil to her bottles, because its vitamin A and D contents are easily absorbed and a great boost to the immune system as well as essential for developing brains and organs.
  • I fed Sophie lots of boiled egg yolks and small pieces of meat, which are easy to digest and full of the nutrients and minerals a growing baby needs.
  • I avoided giving Sophie gluten as much as possible while her gut was healing.

Slowly Sophie began to improve. Then New Zealand supermarkets stopped stocking goat’s formula and we were forced to transition Sophie over to a cow-based formula instead. It took Sophie about three (sleep-interrupted) months to get used to the cow’s formula, even with all the things I was doing to help her, but she’s finally there.

Sophie can now drink cow’s formula with no problems and she has lost the persistent cough and snotty nose she had, which I think is a sure sign her body isn’t over-reacting to certain foods any more.
I only wish I had known all these gut-healing and immune-building tips earlier, because I could have started many of them as soon as Sophie displayed her first symptoms of intolerance.

Have you ever cared for a baby or child with food intolerances? What are your tips for getting them through it?

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