Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

In My Pantry… what the bleep CAN your kid eat?!

The following is a list of Top-8 and Gluten Free foods that we keep at our house. Please be sure to always read the ingredients before feeding these foods to your child. Some of the foods listed below may have soy oil/lecithin in them.*

Bars:

  • glutino-gluten-free-breakfast-126176Glutino makes several “Nutragrain”- type beakfast bars that my boys love – a little too much. They will eat an entire box in one sitting if I let them, and they are kind of pricey; however, they are great if you are on the road and need an easy or quick breakfast.
  • Enjoy Life has several bars that are all Top-8 and Gluten Free. I love everything I have ever had from Enjoy Life – except for their bars. They are very heavy and dense. I hate saying that because I LOVE the products made by this company.
  • Peso BarsNature’s Path Enviro Kids has a few bars that are Top 8 and Gluten free. I think they are good, but Z hates them. When I bring home the ones with the penguin on the front, he screams, “Peso bars?! I hate Peso bars!” which is a reference to the Penguin in Octonauts). If it’s any consolation, Manimal thinks they rock. But, Manimal will eat anything. He ate a vintage Barbie shoe just this evening. No, in all seriousness, they taste like fruity rice crispy treats and aren’t that bad…

Bread:

  • All of Ener-G breads should be safe, but are like eating cardboard. If you can tolerate eggs, I would recommend Udi’s and Rudi’s Gluten-free breads.

Butter Replacement:

  • When baking, use spectrum shortening or coconut oil (you should be able to use it just as you would butter).
  • To flavor things like potatoes or popcorn, simply use canola oil and salt. It tastes VERY similar to butter. In fact, I am often so lazy, I don’t even waste time getting butter out of the fridge, I just use canola oil – I don’t have to wait for it to melt.

Candy

There are several Top-8 free candy’s on the market (the below list is not comprehensive. Feel free to add any that you may know of in the comments below). Unfortunately, most of them are chocked full of food colorings (namely red food dye).

  • Peeps (most of them are top-8 and GF)
  • Smarties products, including candy necklaces
  • Star burst Original Fruit chews
  • Starburst jelly beans, GummiBurst
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Hot Tomales
  • Swedish fish – Red, Assorted and Aqua life
  • Life Savers hard and soft candies
  • Sweet tarts
  • Heide Gummi Bears and several other Hiede products
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Dum Dums Spangler Candy Co. said the following about Dum Dum Lolli pops: There is a trace amount of soy oil in the lubricant that we use in our cooking kettles. This soy oil has been refined, bleached, and deodorized and all of the proteins have been removed.

Cereal:

  • Chex (all the GF versions of Chex are safe for my kids). The Hy-Vee and ALDI knock-offs are also safe, but the Walmart brand “may contain gluten” so avoid it.
  • Kix Cereal. My kids go crazy when they eat the Berry ones because of the food coloring.
  • Trix Cereal: We use caution with this cereal. This is the most tantrum-triggering food I have found for my boys (other than gluten). On the rare occation we buy this ceareal, it is only as a small treat right before bed.
  • Cereal Gorilla munchNatures Path Enviro Kids Cereals – Many cereals of this brand are gluten and top-8 free, and my kids really like them. Unfortunately, they are sort of pricey, so we only buy them when they are on sale.

 

Chips/Crunchy Snacks:

  • Freetos (we also buy the ALDI brand for $.99 per bag, but they have soy lecithin. Soy lecithin doesn’t seem to bother my boys anymore). I believe the flavored Freetos are not Top-8 free, so read the ingredients!
  • Corn Tortilla Chips: Most corn chips are safe, but always read the ingredients. Sometimes they squeeze things like soy or oats in them. In fact, some of ALDI’s corn chips say “naturally gluten free” but have oats in them. I doubt these chips are made with specially-grown oats, so I have never given them to my boys.
  • Pretzels: Glutino and Snyders of Hanover (both contain soy oil/lecithin). Glutino’s pretzels glutinoare the best hard pretzels in my opinion, even over gluten ones, which makes sense since they are around $8 a bag!!! Energ-G makes some as well, but these are for highly allergic people and thus have very little flavor.
  • Popcorn: unfortunately, I don’t know of any microwave popcorn that is dairy-free. When my boys want popcorn I make it on the stove top (an air popper would work too) in canola or corn oil. Instead of using butter, drizzle canola over it before salting. I can barely taste a difference between that and buttered popcorn. Sooo good.
  • Kettle corn – several bagged kettle corns are safe. Orville Redenbacher makes a really good one that my kids plow through.Kettle corn
  • Potato Chips – Most potato chips should be safe; however, beware of Pringles, which has gluten. Original Stax are safe for my kids but contain soy oil.

Convenience Main dishes:

  • Hot Dogs – many hot dog brands are gluten and top-8 free. Oscar Meyer even makes ones that are nitrate free, so if you or little ones can’t have nitrates, these are a great solution.
  • Ian’s chicken nuggets – These are really tasty!ians chick nug
  • Mission corn tortillas and tostadas are also top-8 and Gluten Free. We also buy the ALDI tostadas, but they have soy oil/lecithin.

Cookies:

  • We trust anything by Enjoy Life. My favorite are the crispy cookies, but the hubs prefers the soft-baked cookies. They are all pretty good (except their bars – avoid their bars).
  • Hodgson Mills has a great mix, but other companies make them too. See my recipes for egg and butter replacers.

Egg Replacer:

  • Make your own egg replacer by mixing a tablespoon of ground/milled flax seed and 2 table spoons of water (stir them together and let them sit for several minutes until they are goopy like an egg-Do you like my scientific lingo?).
  • Ener-G makes an egg -replacer you can buy at any health food store.

Frozen Treats

  • Most popsicles are gluten and top-8 free – yay!
    Sorbet is a great replacement for ice cream. Don’t confuse it with Sherbet, which has dairy.
  • Coconut Ice Cream – I’ve never tried it, but I hear it really good.

Fruit Snacks:

  • Many fruit snacks and candies made by Betty Crocker (a General Mills company) are gluten and top-8 free, and are safe for my boys; however, they go nutso when they eat certain food colorings (i.e. they have trouble falling asleep and they throw lots-o-tantrums).
  • fruit snacksLunch Buddies All Natural Assorted Fruit Snacks (ALDI)– These are soooo good, and they are made with fruit juices and natural vegetable dyes (like red cabbage), so you are not dealing with crazy children when the food coloring hits their systems. I think they taste better because they don’t taste artificial like other fruit snacks. We buy these by the truckload!

 

Milk

  • Rice Dream – I have not found any other rice milk brands out there that are soy free. I am sure some exist, so if you know of any, please feel free to post comments! The people who run Rice Dream are great, and if you write them telling them how much you appreciate their product they will send you kick-butt coupons to use on their products.
  • Almond milk – I know almonds are a top-8 allergen, but if you can tolerate tree nuts, almond milk is better tasting in my opinion than rice milk, and it tastes more like cows milk. It also makes me feel more full than cows milk or rice milk. I often find it cheaper than Rice Dream if I use coupons or buy it at ALDI. Unlike rice milk, every almond milk I have found is free of soy and other top allergens. But please, always read the label!

Pancakes/Waffles:

  • Be sure to check out my egg replacer/butter replacers when making mixes!
  • Hodson Mills makes a really good pancake mix I buy at Walmart for about $3.50 a box
  • Bob’s Red Mill has a good pancake mix; although it’s good, I still perfer the flavor and texture of the Hodson Mills mix better.

Peanut Butter Replacement:

Sunflower Seed Butter is the BEST replacement for peanut butter around. It is very similar in flavor and texture to peanut butter. In fact, when it’s in a “PB&J,” I forget I am not eating peanut butter.

  • Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed butter is soy-free and costs around $5.
  • Sunbutter makes some, but it has soy oil in it. You can find it at Target (and probably Walmart) for around $6.50).

*some of these foods may have soy lecithin/oil, so always read the ingredients! Usually, soy oil/lecithin is refined and the proteins are removed. Because of this, it is usually not an issue for those who are intolerant/allergic to soy. However, my boys could not handle any soy oil until they were about a year and a half or older.

The Uncomfortable Topic of – (gasp!) – Breastfeeding a Protein Intolerant Baby

Manimal BottlesAnyone who has known me for any number of years… ehem, weeks… OK, days… can tell you I struggle with the sin of a critical spirit. For example, when the hubs and I were first married, I had a big hissy fit because he scraped the bumper of our car on the road while backing out of a steep driveway. When he did this, I was not merciful and patient, and I was downright mean – over what? A twenty-year-old car that my coworkers called the “drug-dealer car” (because it was that ugly – and cops apparently agreed, because I got pulled over all the time – even when I wasn’t breaking any laws. Ugly-car profiling, I tell ya!). Anyway, the very next day, I drove the same said car into our other car. Yup. And The Hubs was sitting right next to me in the passengers seat. And guess who was very patient and merciful. Yup, The Hubs.

And that’s how God often deals with my critical spirit. By putting me in the same situation that I had at one time judged others…

So, you’ve probably figured it out, but I used to judge mothers who had decided to stop breastfeeding – c’mon – didn’t they care about their babies to give them the very best?! I may not have said anything to their face, but I sure questioned women when they chose to formula feed – even when they had good reasons like their milk supply was low, or their baby never latched correctly. And like the old saying goes, you are the best parent you will ever be before you have children.

I was the best breast-feeder I ever was before I had a baby.

Before having Lil Z, I had researched breastfeeding, and had talked to a lot of other moms who had done it. I was excited for it. I knew it was the best thing for my baby, and I was not going to be one of those mom’s who didn’t care about my baby enough to do it (insert critical, haughty-sounding voice here).

But then Lil Z arrived, and I actually put all my research into practice. And, it didn’t go so well. Actually, that’s an understatement. Don’t listen to what the boob Nazi’s say – breastfeeding hurts. It really, really hurts, at least in the beginning. Even when you do it right – it can hurt. And that’s what happened to me.

I worked with a lovely lactation consultant, Marjie, several times, but it never stopped hurting. After several sessions, we established he was “doing” it right – latch, suck, and so on. There shouldn’t have been that much pain – but there was. Marjie suggested I see my doctor about checking for thrush, because even though I didn’t exhibit any physical signs of thrush, I had described the pain of thrush (i.e. it felt like battery acid had been poured on my… ah, chest).

So, I saw the nurse practitioner at my OBGYN’s because my doctor was on vacation. She glanced at my chest and said I didn’t have thrush, and I should just stop breastfeeding. But I was too embarrassed to tell her that I couldn’t afford formula because I was no longer working (and this was before we knew he would need a hypoallergenic formula!). I had to make this breastfeeding thing work.

So I went back to Marjie, who was livid with the nurse practitioner. Marjie advised me to call my doctor and explain the situation. A doctor in the practice prescribed a topical powder (my doc was still on vacation, apparently), which helped ease the pain and make nursing tolerable. Z went on an anti-fungal medicine also. But the pain, although lessened, continued. It persisted the entire time we breastfed – 14 months (I would have quit exactly at 12 months, but the kid kept waking at night, and wouldn’t fall back asleep no longer how long I ignored him – but that is a story for another time).

By the time Z was four or five months, I was ready to call my insurance company, or the closest WIC clinic to see if I qualified for formula assistance. But I kept reading about how some PI babies never tolerate any formula, and it scared me – Lil Z was so sensitive, that I’m fairly certain he would have bounced from formula to formula in our quest to find one that “worked.”

Saying I hated breastfeeding is putting it mildly. I loathed it. But I was trapped. So Lil Z and I continued. It was rarely sweet bonding time like I’d heard about from so many women. It was uncomfortable and painful – made even more depressing by the fact that I couldn’t eat the things I really wanted.

So by the time I had worked up the courage to even have a second child, I dreaded breastfeeding so much, that I considered putting Manimal on formula right out of the gate. But I knew that was illogical. I had to at least try. Because… well, I understood breastmilk was the best food for a baby, so who was I to rob him of that if we could make a go of it? And what if he was PI, just like Lil Z had been, and no formula worked for him?

But this time… it worked. Well, other than the fact that I had to modify my diet again. But now I knew what I was doing. I could eat sorbet if I wanted ice cream, and Enjoy Life’s chocolate when I wanted a Hershey Bar. Don’t get me wrong. I was thrown into the PIT of despair when I realized that Manimal was protein intolerant, just like Z was. But, once I got over this, and the “mourning” of my half-and-half in my coffee (it’s weird, but that is what I really missed the most), I realized that Manimal and I were having the sweet bonding moments I had never experienced with Lil Z. It wasn’t as painful, and it was much more… natural.

At eight months, to my regret, Manimal went completely on formula. I had gone back to work full-time when he was two months, but due to my weird work schedule (which resulted in random pumping and missed meals) my milk began to dry up, and I just couldn’t keep up with him. After trying to increase my supply with extra pumpings and fenugreek, Manimal resorted to biting (hard!) and it was time to transition to formula. Luckily for us, Manimal was much less sensitive than his older brother had been, and he tolerated Nutramagin.

I don’t regret continuing to breastfeed Z, even though I hated it more than a lot of things I’ve ever had to do. I know it helped him, and and he rarely was sick (other than the whole, horrible acid reflux, PI thing!). But would I breastfeed again through pain like that? Probably not…

I do regret not being able to breastfeed Manimal longer. He is a sweet baby who loves to snuggle. Nursing him was really precious bonding time, and sadly, I feel like I missed out on some sweet moments those last few months.

And I guess what I am saying to you is that breastfeeding might be really, really tough right now, especially if you can’t eat the things you want, or it hurts. And I totally get it if you want to quit – I completely understand if you do. I truly do. But if you do decide to keep breastfeeding, it may be tough, but you won’t regret it in the end. And if you decide that you are quitting, just know that I certainly won’t judge or scold you for choosing formula – because sometimes life just is what it is. And nursing a PI baby is very, very hard.

Here are some verses that helped me keep my sanity while dealing with Lil Z, his reflux and breastfeeding:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

The Lord has an ultimate plan for you, your baby and your family. You simply need to ask and wait; and He will guide you in the right decision to continue or quit breastfeeding.

Fussy Baby – What I Wish I Had Known in the Beginning

When Lil Z, my firstborn came along in 2008, he hit our family like a freight train. He cried all the time, arched his back constantly, rarely slept more than 45 minutes, and never let us put him down unless it was to be jiggled in a bouncy or car seat. His diagnosis was gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). But no matter how much medicine they gave him, we couldn’t make our baby comfortable, and he rarely slept more than 45 minutes at a time (it didn’t matter if it was day or night).

What we later learned was Lil Z is protein intolerant and has Celiac Disease. Here is advice I wish I had gotten when Lil Z was a baby:

Painful Reflux (GERD) is not necessarily a “mechanics issue”: I heard this so many times from my son’s doctors, but unfortunately, I took their word for it for more than five months after his birth. I was breastfeeding at the time, and he ingested proteins from the food I ate, which made his GERD unbearable. I wish I had tried an Elimination Diet from the start, and I would have discovered his reflux was greatly exacerbated from several of the foods I was eating. Once I eliminated the foods from my diet, his reflux was manageable with medicine. My second son, Manimal’s reflux was only painful if I ate an offending food.

Sometimes one reflux medication doesn’t work, while another one will (we had better luck with Prevacid rather than Zantac). One doctor told us several months after putting my son on Zantac, that Prevacid works faster than Zantac, but because it is so much more expensive, a lot of health insurance companies will not pay for Prevacid until Zantac has been tried.

Mylanta helped when a really bad acid reflux “episode” would hit. When Lil Z was going through an “episode” (i.e. he would scream and arch his back for hours) we gave our son Mylanta, per our pediatrician’s OK. She gave us the exact amount to give him based on his weight and age at the time. Check with your pediatrician before giving your child any medication.

Lil Z experiencing one of his frequent "episodes" with reflux.

Lil Z experiencing one of his frequent “episodes” with reflux.

Trust your intuition: There were days (and there still are) when I know my child ingested an offending food. Or did he? No, he definitely did… no wait. I think I am crazy — he couldn’t have. But he’s acting like he’s in so much pain, but… I was so careful!

Any mom with a food sensitive-child has had that exact conversation every time their child exhibits signs of ingesting a food they shouldn’t have. Trust your gut — I feel like a mom’s intuition is rarely wrong. And try to be patient with advice from mom’s who haven’t experienced what it is like to have a baby with protein intolerance and/or reflux. They are well-meaning, but they have no idea what you are going through. Is your baby crying longer before his nap? Is his cry sounding “grinding” and guttural, like his reflux is back? You know, maybe it was teething, as I often was told, but why did it always seem to happen on days he was around other kids who were eating fish crackers? Trust your gut, and ask God to help you recognize the times your baby is feeling sick or just getting old enough to manipulate you at bedtime. It is the worst feeling to make your baby cry himself to sleep to find out later when he has a mucousy stool he was reacting to something he ingested. But realize it happens. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Just love your baby and move on.

My own mother told me that it is good for a baby to cry. I plan on doing a more in-depth article on how I got my kids to sleep through the night, which involved “crying it out.” But it is never good for a sick or in pain baby to cry it out — ever. It’s cruel. So before doing this method, make doubly sure your baby is not suffering or sick.

Once you have had your baby comfortable for a few weeks, his sleeping habits may not improve on their own. This may be because your child has conditioned himself to wake frequently. Both my boys eventually learned to sleep through the night. Stay tuned for a future post on how I made this happen.