Contributed by Amy Howell
You hear it all the time, babies just spit up, babies just cry, and he will grow out of it soon. I absolutely came to dread those phrases.
Listen to your mommy gut!
You know your baby and you know when something is wrong.
I knew he had reflux, but my gut kept telling me there was something more.
I tried at first to just go dairy free, but there were still so many variables and my son was having so many reflux flares and crazy/bad mucous diapers. I kept thinking there is no way I can do TED.
At first, I seriously didn’t think I could do it. I really wanted to keep breastfeeding my son for at least a year and then until he (or I) wanted to be done. So, I just decided to go for it and thankfully my husband supported my decision (although he did think it was extreme). After 8 days on TED, my son seemed to be getting a little worse, so after seeing many moms say that rice was a problem for their babies, I cut rice (rice was really the only reason I thought I could survive on this diet). That was hard.
About 4 days after that, we hit baseline. For us, that meant no mucous in poop, no or minimal spit ups, and no night wakings that he was obviously in pain.
When I started TED, I had introduced a few solids to my son (started solids at 8-1/2 months because he was a preemie born 2-1/2 months early). Because of that, I started over from scratch reintroducing solids, starting with the TED foods (to have quick victories) first (minus rice). I would give the new food to my son for 3 days and if he met all the criteria to consider it a pass (mentioned earlier), I added the food back to my diet as well. Pretty soon, I was able to usually tell by the next day/poopy diaper if a food was a pass or not, but I still held at a 3 day wait system for the most part. Mostly, I used the Joneja Allergen Chart when determining what new foods to introduce (worked our way from the least allergenic to the most). Sometimes, if I was getting really burnt out on something (say potatoes for breakfast), I would think of something else I could try (say quinoa for breakfast) and bump that up for the next food trial.
Tips and other helpful info:
- Try not to get too excited about introducing a certain new food (and spend a few days thinking of all the new things you can make if that food passes), because if that food fails, you will be devastated. I did this with oatmeal (sad, right?) because I was dying for something besides potatoes for breakfast. It was a huge fail and I was really bummed. So, take it one day/one food at a time and try not to plan too far on advance.
- Think about if your desire to breastfeed outweighs all of sacrifice. Seriously, there is no shame in doing formula. A “fed” baby is best, however that may be. I really can’t explain my strong desire to breastfeed, but it was greater than my love of any food (even ice cream and chocolate which is huge). Food will always be there. Your baby will only be a baby/want to breastfeed for a limited amount of time and that bonding experience, to me, was so precious.
- When you finally hit a baseline, you will be so excited and know that it is totally worth it.
- Most people will think you are crazy, including yourself, but keep going. Let the people in your life who are worried about you (parents/husband/etc.) know that this is what you believe is best for your baby and that they don’t have to agree with you, but you need their support and encouragement. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
- My 5 months in TED seemed like an eternity, but it really is a short time in the grand scheme of things. I was actually surprised it has only been 5 months and kept double checking my old notes to make sure.
- Traveling and visiting people is hard. Everyone would always try to be accomedating, but with such a strict diet, it is much easier if you just plan ahead and bring your own food. That way, you know it is safe. Something as simple as the wrong kind of oil or some butter used to saute something (again, it usually was unintentionally, they just didn’t think about it), could keep me from bring able to eat something someone else prepared.
- If it is processed or premade, you probably can’t eat it. There is so much hidden dairy and soy seems to be in everything.
- Restaurants are so much more accomedating than I expected them to be. Just make sure to ask ingredients and say what you need your meal to be free of (dairy-free, soy-free, etc).
- Just go for it. Sometimes, spending time thinking about how awful and hard it will be is worse than it actually turns out. I wish I had done it sooner when I first suspected my son having issues. Once I got started, it was easier (but not more fun, sadly, haha) than I expected.
- Make a list of what you can eat and as you add food, add it to your list. Think of it as what you “can” eat, not what you “can’t”.
- Keep a food diary for you and your baby as well. Make sure to record any symptoms you encounter, so you can refer back and target possible problems.
- It may sound silly, but plan a celebration meal for when baby is weaned. It gives you something to look forward to! Mine was a Little Caesar’s deep dish pepperoni pizza and Cold Stone ice cream, upscale right? It was delicious, by the way!
- Not to sound pessimistic, but when introducing a new food, plan ahead and be prepared for possible night wakings and bad diapers. That way, if nothing happens, it will be a plesent suprise.
- You will definitely lose weight, so the foods you can eat, eat A LOT!
- Dr. Sears Total Elimination Diet