Explaining cow's milk allergy
Parents need, and deserve, a little time of their own. Those first times apart though can be emotionally difficult. Having a child with a cow’s milk allergy can make it even more stressful for parents to go on a date, take an overnight trip or return to work. What can help is knowing that your baby’s caregivers truly understand cow’s milk allergy and what that means for your child. Here’s who to tell and how to start the discussion.
Who to tell
You’ll want to give a quick lesson in cow’s milk allergy and its management to anyone who’s caring for your little one. It’s a good idea to share key information with anyone who’s going to be holding or feeding your baby, including friends, family, babysitters, nursery staff and your baby’s older siblings and cousins, if they have any.
What to tell people looking after your child
As the parent, you will know that it’s important when discussing the care of your baby with others that you establish what symptoms to look out. Most importantly, you need to discuss what steps you have already put in place to ensure your child is as comfortable as possible and how important it is to keep that care routine consistent. Here are a few suggestions:
- Allow plenty of time to meet before the first drop-off
- Keep instructions clear and as brief as possible
- Explain the dietary management that is in place for your child and the importance of sticking to it
- Explain which cow’s milk allergy symptoms are typical for your child in particular and how to deal with them
- Put the most important points in writing and put together in a binder to leave with them while you’re away, e.g.:
- Reference materials
- Emergency phone numbers
- Your mobile number
- Encourage them to ask questions and take notes
- Refer them to this website as a resource for further information
Specific details to tell people feeding your child
Although every discussion about your baby’s cow’s milk allergy will be a bit different, these are good points to cover with everyone who feeds your baby:
- Wash your hands often. In some babies, cross-contact (touching dairy and then touching the baby’s bottle, cup or dummy) can cause an allergic reaction. Ask caregivers to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing formula, touching your baby’s face or mouth, or handling anything that goes in their mouths such as teething rings, or other mouth toys
- Use sanitised bottles and bottle teats. You can clean bottles, nipples, caps and utensils teats in water (1 minute at a rolling boil)
- Follow your doctor’s directions when preparing formula. The ratio of formula to water that they advise is key in making sure that your baby gets sufficient nutrients. Guide your caregiver through the directions for preparing your baby’s formula
- Watch out for hidden sources of milk. Explain that there are many foods beyond basic milk and ice cream that contain cow’s milk. It’s best to stick with a menu that’s been planned and not share anything that you’re unsure about
- Know nappy differences. Although you’re probably accustomed to the rainbow hues found in your baby’s nappies, it can help for caregivers to know that yellow, green, brown and tan stools are all normal for babies who are on a specialist formula for cow’s milk allergy, such as Nutramigen with LGG®. However, if your baby’s stools are white, red or black, they should tell you straight away so that you can immediately consult a doctor
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