So much of Eva’s firsts in life involve her allergies, it isn’t that there weren’t other happy times in between but the big events that I recall and remember do involve them. Our whole world changed when we became parents of course, and to us it changed into this world of juggling allergies along with all the rest that comes with having a new baby and visiting all of these milestones for the very first time.
As I have said before here Eva had eczema and allergies from being a newborn and after breastfeeding didn’t work out she was soon put onto a prescribed formula Nutramigen (which smells and tastes awful by the way but Eva seemed to take it fine after a tricky start). When she approached 6 months and the thought of weaning came I was on information overload, she may also have had silent reflux and was a very sicky baby so I was told that the introduction of solids may help with this too, which of course meant I read all the books there was and looked forward to not having to drape a muslin cloth over my shoulder every time I picked her up.
I have to admit I was a little bit scared at first. After feeding milk for 6 months we finally felt like we were in a rhythm and so adding food into the mix and all the complications it could bring for her just seemed slightly overwhelming. I got all prepared, steamed and froze fruit and vegetable purees into little ice cube portions individually labelled with the date – looking back it was a ridiculous military operation but it made us feel like we had this in hand and we just cracked on. We went by the ‘book’ and introduced a new food (especially one with possible allergens like strawberries and kiwi) every few days so we could gauge reaction.
This was I think the hardest part of weaning for me, the intense worry that something was going to set her allergies off and constantly checking and wondering if a skin flare up was down to the food she was eating or something else. I meticulously kept a diary of everything she ate and checked back for any changes or when was best to introduce something new, little did I know that aero-allergens played a huge part in her health too and given the time back I would definitely have tried to worry less, although that is easier said than done when the situation isn’t simple.
Although she was 6 months when we weaned her, going by the guidelines as we did as first time parents, she was still so little, she still had to have a cushion to prop her up in the highchair and she even still had the tongue reflex that made her look more like a giraffe pushing the food out again than a hungry baby! It did keep us amused and I remember laughing so much each time we tried to bypass the tongue to get the spoon in her mouth as she looked at us and wondered what was quite so funny! In hindsight I would perhaps not have weaned her when we did, not that I think we did anything wrong but as a more confident second time mum knowing what I know now I would perhaps have left her a little longer, waited until I thought she was really physically ready and not worried about the fact that she ‘should’ be weaned at 6 months. After all she ‘should’ have been born at 40 weeks and not 37.
We started slowly and by 7 months she had mostly lost the tongue reflex and was strong enough to take some finger foods so we then went to a mixed weaning of baby led and purees. She took to this great, probably better than the purées alone actually. Along the way we realised that there were many foods that set off her eczema and for a long time steered clear of them all, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, milk and egg, oh and tomato but this was a bit trickier as try finding things to eat that don’t have a milk base, egg base or a tomato, so we used our common sense there , just did what we thought was best for our baby and finally felt like this was ok. There were bumps in the road like when we got a little bit relaxed with it all only to be reminded of the difference for us when at 9 months she had an immediate and quite severe reaction to pineapple, which I wasn’t even aware was a risk. But despite all of this she has always been a great eater and was never really that fussy liking everything from salmon to olives to broccoli and blueberries. Come to think of it I don’t remember her ever really disliking any food in particular, which is a blessing seen as she is restricted somewhat.
I absolutely love looking back at these photos, even though our weaning journey wasn’t necessarily the norm and was filled with anxiety on my part, Eva was always so happy with food, from my little bald 6 month old accepting baby rice and mixed vegetables from a flat spoon to a 11 month old with a full Christmas dinner self fed with a knife and fork. She just took it all in her stride mostly, and made sure to make her feeling clear all the other times as you can see below. Without fail though they make me smile and I would go through it all again with her, for the smiles and the laughter alone.