We were sitting in the dietitian’s office learning about a really important step in Albie’s allergy journey and all he was trying to do was reach the tempting mountain of toys behind us.
Of that meeting, I can tell you far more about the contents of the brightly coloured plastic house than the words of wisdom imparted by the food doctor.
Luckily, I had reinforcements.
I later learned that Albie’s appointment was to teach us all about the Milk Ladder. In essence, it’s a long old process to convert our baby into a human who can handle a milkshake – not catch a whiff of it and immediately volunteer his stomach contents like a bird feeding its chicks.
Albie is currently unable to eat anything containing cow’s milk, soya or egg. That means it’s a ‘no’ to Pot Noodle – with or without the soy sauce (I’ve only checked chicken and mushroom; it’s the only one I recognise). It’s also a ‘no’ to cream of chicken soup and Greggs’ sausage rolls.
More importantly it makes everyday shopping really tricky. Most bread contains soya, milk is in most things and, if it’s not, it’s usually got soya in. The usual toddler favourites of Pom-Bears (soya) and yoghurts (obviously milk but it’s easy to forget!) are off limits.
While many of these are trivial, the point is that the evil trio are present in a lot of things you might take for granted; things you don’t expect.
Unless you’re used to avoiding them, it’s easy to slip up, or spend hours in the supermarket checking labels with increasing despair.
Perhaps recognising this situation isn’t ideal, medical folk came up with the Milk Ladder.
Starting small, the aim is to gradually introduce foodstuffs with increasing amounts of milk in them, so your baby’s body has time to adapt. You can read about the Milk Ladder here but, needless to say, consult your doctor/dietitian if this is something your child may need to start on. There’s also versions for other allergens.
Albie’s milk ladder journey
Throughout 2019 I’m going to be documenting Albie’s journey on the milk ladder. This isn’t just to help others who are going through the process but it’ll also serve as a helpful diary for us.
Most Milk Ladder journeys begin when little ones reach their first birthday.
Albie’s started around this time, too, but yesterday marked the beginning of round two.
A (crumb of) muffin a day keeps you going all day
Albie negotiated the first step of the ladder with ease.
He showed no signs of discomfort or diarrhoea as he munched his way through increasing amounts of malted milk biscuits.
On the contrary, he seemed particularly delighted that he was finally opening his account with our trusty friend the biscuit tin.
Soon, he became well enough to reach step two: ‘muffin’.
For a deprived child, the sight of a blueberry muffin after six months of coconut cheese and nasty-tasting prescription milk is probably akin to me being presented with a year’s supply of pavlova.
But being the Milk Ladder, Albie’s introduction to was like me witnessing that incredible amount of sugary goodness and being presented with one of his baby spoons.
Despite only being allowed a few crumbs, it was enough to set him off. The next day, we experienced much of the same symptoms as we did during the tough early days we had when we were unknowingly feeding him milk which wasn’t agreeing with him.
Among the symptoms, if you’ll excuse the image, was him producing in excess of ten explosive, watery, soiled nappies in a day when he’d usually produce one of normal consistency.
This setback kicked in just before Christmas but now it’s time to give it a second go.
So yesterday he was back at stage one, with Heinz apple biscotti a substitute for the malted milks.
Wish us luck!