Is your baby having bloody streaks (or full on blood) in their diapers? Is your toddler having constant bouts of diarrhea with chunks of undigested food and mucous? Gross, yeah I know. This article is about poop. So if you have a weak stomach, it may not be for you. But my husband and I had QUITE the experience with our little girl and I wanted to share our experience so it may be helpful for others going through similar situations. We did find some answers, and my hope is that this will give others some answers, or at least somewhere to start!
Intestinal Issues from Birth
When my daughter was a newborn she lost A LOT of weight in the hospital. So much so that they had us give her the breast milk bank (or whatever it’s called) milk almost as often as I nursed her. This helped her gain enough weight to leave the hospital, but she was still far below her birth weight, she was not sleeping well, and she was ALWAYS fussy (colicky they called it). Then came the bloody streaks in her stools. I don’t know about you, but being a new mom–I FREAKED out when I saw blood! I was so afraid something was wrong with our little girl, so I brought her in right away and talked to the doctor.
The doctor recommended that I stay away from dairy because the dairy protein is not easily digested by some babies. So I tried that for a couple weeks. During those couple of weeks, there were still bloody streaks in her stools (which were green–also a sign of diarrhea), but they told me to wait at least two weeks to allow the dairy to get out of my system.
Well, after the 2 weeks were over, my daughter had more blood than usual in one of her diapers over a weekend, so we took her to the ER. Once again, the doctor’s said it was probably the dairy, but they said to cut out all soy also because the soy protein can be just as hard on a baby as dairy. They also gave us some formula that had broken down dairy proteins because she was still under her birth weight.
We tried the formula that night when we got home. After a couple hours, I changed my daughter’s diaper and there was so much blood that it was basically half blood, and half poop. An hour later she had another bowel movement that was mostly blood. Once again, I FREAKED out. Back to the ER…
This ER doctor said that she must be so sensitive that even this special formula is bothering her stomach, so stop using the formula and just continue not eating soy or dairy. She said it probably just needed more time to get out of my system and that I was probably eating dairy without realizing (SO frustrating when you KNOW you are being way too careful for that to happen!!). So we stopped giving her the formula, and saw her doctor the next week. He agreed that it may be the dairy and soy, but referred us to Pediatric Gastroenterology anyway.
Anwsers from GI
After a few weeks of waiting for an appointment (and a few more weeks of diapers with bloody streaks, no matter what I tried), we finally got in to Pediatric GI, and boy were they helpful!
The GI doctor finally explained to me what the issue was and why: Basically, my daughter’s intestines were not developed enough to digest the 5 major proteins (wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, and nuts). The cells had not formed close enough together yet, so the proteins were making their way through, causing inflammation. He called it “Allergic Colitis.” Now, I may have butchered that explanation a little bit (I’m no doctor), but you get the idea. He also said that I should keep those things out of my diet until she is at least 8 months old, and then try adding in one thing at a time. But he believed by age 1, she should be able to even eat all of these things on her own.
So, my instructions were to stop eating wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, and nuts as long as I am nursing her and to give her a non dairy formula (we used Puramino with great results). Yep, you heard that right, no soy, wheat, eggs, dairy OR nuts! I had NO idea what I would eat, but a mother will do anything for their children, so I managed to do so.
After a couple weeks, she was a COMPLETELY different baby. She finally got some sleep, her diapers were normal, and she gained a POUND a week! Finally, at 2 months old, she made it over her birth weight! She was smiling and happy; it was just like night and day. Clearly what he said was spot on and did the trick! We were so happy and so thankful! I continued on this diet until 8 months, when I was able to add in all of those proteins with no problems.
Then Comes the Confusing Toddler Feeding
I waited until my daughter was a year old before trying to give her any of the foods listed, that caused her allergic colitis as a baby. Once that time rolled around, I started experimenting with many foods. She had diarrhea without fail with dairy, and off and on with everything else. I switched and tried different things, and finally thought I found what works for her. No major proteins, except wheat.
Except for the occasional bouts of diarrhea and constipation, she mostly seemed to be doing pretty good. And then one day she had a few episodes of diarrhea and then it just never stopped. For three weeks, she would go from 3-5 times a day (mostly 5). Her stools had mucous and chunks of undigested food, some were soft, some were runny; but literally, what she ate, was coming right back out again.
I tried putting her on a bland diet, and finally I decided I would try to take wheat out of her diet just in case while I was waiting to see her doctor. Sure enough, the diarrhea slowed down and then stopped. I told her doctor about it and he said he believed it was “Leaky gut.” Most doctors (especially GI doctors) will not use that term because of all the modern-day connotations attached to it, but he explained it the same way as Pediatric GI. Basically, her intestines still had not developed enough to digest those proteins yet, but he wanted her to see the GI doctor again to be sure.
So, back to GI we went. And sure enough, he had the same explanation. Only this time he said this may last for quite some time. Apparently children who have as severe of a reaction as my daughter sometimes need to be on a limited diet all the way up to age FIVE. Yep, THAT long without eating normal food!
Hopefully that does not end up being the case for her, but in the meantime, we have had some very helpful advice from our dietitian who works with Pediatric GI, and I have had to do A LOT of experimental cooking to find foods that my daughter actually likes.
If your child is having these problems, PLEASE ask your doctor about allergic colitis or leaky gut, whatever you want to call it! A simple diet change may help! And if you need tips or recipes, please check out my recipes or lunch Ideas) that’s why I created this blog, and I am always adding more to it!
Let me know if this information is helpful for you! I want to hear from other parents who have similar experiences! Thanks!