martha's vineyard community services · early childhood programs · family center
Family Matters is prepared monthly by the Martha’s Vineyard Family Center, a program of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services
funded by grants from the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
Coping with Food Allergies
"Do you think he likes it?" my husband asked while feeding Owen his first meal of baby guacamole: mashed avocado with breast milk. As avid eaters and cooks, we were excited about reaching this particular milestone.
Before mixing the guacamole, we considered various approaches to infant nutrition. Following the American Academy of Pediatrics advice, I breastfed Owen exclusively for 6 months and then planned to offer solid foods and breast milk through the first year. We selected Ruth Yaron's Super Baby Food as our main guide.
Dutifully following the advice of numerous books, I took notes in a feeding journal and began introducing a fruit or vegetable every few days at breakfast or lunch. I tried to maintain a relaxed environment while watching for signs of an allergic reaction, like redness, wheezing, diarrhea or vomiting.
All was going fine until Owen was about eight and a half months. He was enjoying a breakfast of whole milk yogurt, strawberries and rice cereal with tahini (all items he had previously eaten) when hives appeared on his mouth and neck. Knowing that hives can quickly progress to anaphylaxis, I was terrified.
While waiting for hours for a doctor to return my call, it dawned on me that Children's Benadryl might help, yet I didn't have any and no pharmacies were open; furthermore, I didn't even know the right dosage for Owen.
Thankfully, the reaction subsided without intervention. When we consulted with our pediatrician, she advised me allergy testing had to wait until Owen was a year old. Until then, she said we should avoid potentially allergenic foods and continue with our food journal. While waiting for blood and skin testing with an allergist, we also met with our chiropractor who conducted muscle testing and prescribed supplements to strengthen Owen's immune system.
Knowing that repeated contact with an allergen can intensify reactions, I was scared. I stopped serving allergenic foods like soy and was glad I hadn't followed the advice in Super Baby Food to introduce hazelnuts and peanut butter.
Still, more reactions occurred. While eating organic baby puffs, hives appeared around Owen's mouth. After my father finished eating mixed nuts and held Owen, his handprints were marked in hives on Owen's skin.
Ten months and five allergy tests later, it's confirmed that Owen is allergic to dairy, eggs, tree nuts and peanuts. I carry his EPI-PEN in a fanny pack, feeling grateful that since the elimination of these foods from his diet and environment, he hasn't had any more reactions.
If I could do it again, more diligence would be paid to the feeding journal and in it, I would have recorded questions for his doctors. I would have advocated more at those appointments and not hesitated to go to the emergency room when I had serious concerns. My reading would have included Ellyn Sater's Child of Mine and articles and recipes on www.mothering.com; and since we suspected allergies, Dr. Paul Hannaway's On The Nature of Food Allergy and articles at www.foodallery.org.
Despite the messiness of meal times and the fear of allergic reactions, my husband and I still feel that meals are another opportunity for a tender interaction with Owen. Just last night at Sharky's, after double checking to make sure their guacamole was fair game for him, we didn't have to wonder if Owen liked the "molay" as we all dipped chip after chip in the green goodness.
Moira Silva and Marney Toole started a support group for parents of children with food allergies. Contact Marney at 693-7900x283 for more information.
Moira is mostly a mother, sometimes a writer and occasionally a runner.
Nurturing Our Babies & Ourselves:
An educational series to enhance the parenting journey with sleep, nutrition, health & fitness specialists. Thursdays in June at the Family Center. For more information call (508) 693-7900 x283
Garden Arts: new summer camp for TODDLERS and PRESCHOOLERS - four 2-week sessions - 8:00-1:00, M-F Islander scholarships available - call 508-696-9997
June Activity Schedule
6/2 Playgroup in the Park10:00-12:00 p.m.-Niantic Park, Oak Bluffs
6/2 Nurturing Our Babies & Ourselves: an educational series to enhance the parenting journey every Thursday 12:00-1:00 p.m.-Family Center-For more information call 508 693-7900 x283
first session - Post-natal Health & Fitness with Elissa Lash and Sherry Sidoti
6/2 Garden Gate Fundraiser-Night of Adventures6:30-9:00 p.m.-The Wharf, Edgartown $15 admission, appetizers, light dinner, cash bar, music & dancing, auction of exclusive Vineyard experiences and adventures!
6/9 Playgroup in the Park10:00-12:00 p.m. - Edgartown Park (adjacent to the Edgartown School)
6/9 Gentle Sleep Shaping with Rebekah Thomson12:00-1:00 p.m.-Family Center
6/9 Waiting Parents Group 7:00-8:30 p.m.-Family Center
For more information call 508 693-7900 x283
6/11 All Families Touched by Adoption Playgroup 10:30-12:30 p.m.-Family Center
6/16 Playgroup in the Park 10:00-12:00 p.m.-Niantic Park, Oak Bluffs
6/16 Teach Your Baby To Love Healthy Food with Dardy Slavin 12:00-1:00 p.m.-Family Center
6/18 Ice Cream Sundae Celebration11:30-12:30 p.m.-Come check out our newly improved playground and enjoy some ice cream - Family Center (Rain date June 25th)
6/23 Playgroup in the Park 10:00-12:00 p.m.-Tisbury School Playground
6/23 Gentle Sleep Success with Rebekah Thomson12:00-1:00 p.m.-Family Center
6/30 Playgroup in the Park10:00-12:00 p.m. - Edgartown Park (adjacent to the Edgartown School)
6/30 Happy Moms, Healthy Families: How to Nourish Yourself When Raising a Family with Jennifer Knight12:00-1:00 p.m.-Family Center
Ongoing activities at the Family Center
Open Playgroup every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday10 - 11:30 a.m.
Baby's First Year every Monday 3-4:30 p.m. & Thursday 10:30 - 12:00 p.m.