Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"I itchy, Mama..."

Afternoon tea party with Mama, Madeline, and Dolly

This is pretty much the scene at our house most evenings these days- Sophie holding a tea party with whichever toy and/or parent who happens to be closest by. It's all very elaborate, involving her brewing the tea/coffee, adding milk and sugar, stirring it with the teaspoon, standing in front of the fan so it'll be cool enough to drink, and then there's all the food- sausage, salami, cheese, crackers, carrots, a chicken leg (don't ask...).

This increased interest in food has actually been a really good opportunity for us to start talking to Sophie about her allergies and teaching her about the things she can and cannot eat. Especially now that she's actively asking for specific things to eat-- both from us and at school-- she needs to learn that there are some things that she can't have. In particular, she's been quite taken with a toy carton of milk from her Melissa & Doug toy food set. She knows it's "cow's milk" because there's a picture of a cow on it, and we've been teaching her that she can't have cow's milk.
Me: Sophie, can you drink cow's milk?
Sophie: No.
Me: What happens when Sophie drinks cow's milk?
Sophie: I get itchy.
Me: So what kind of milk does Sophie drink?
Sophie: Soy milk. I can drink the soy milk.

We got the results back from her last allergy test and it's not good news- both her milk and egg allergy indices have actually gone up and a particularly bad reaction to soy cheese-- I found out the hard way that even though it says it's soy cheese, there's often some kind of dairy by-product in these cheeses that Sophie clearly reacts against-- means that she's nowhere near outgrowing her sensitivity to dairy. We're teaching her to also not ask for egg or cheese which we think she knows; but what's harder are things that have egg/milk/cheese in them that she can't see. Like Goldfish crackers. Or certain baked goods. Her daycare is really good about keeping these foods away from her but it doesn't mean that accidents don't happen- more than once, she's touched the cream cheese on her friends' bagels just out of curiosity...

These days, I read food labels like a hawk and have learned to be sensitive to words like whey, casein, and any additive that starts with lact- which all suggest the presence of milk; when we eat out, my first instinct is to see how many items on the menu are vegan or dairy/egg-free; and when we cook at home, we try to avoid those foods altogether so that there's no need to make something separate for Sophie. Having a child with allergies is not stress-free by any means, but with some planning, and a lot of care, it thankfully hasn't been that stressful either...

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