You may not be as lucky as my son and I are. My wife was very quick to discover and pursue a diagnosis of his reflux (GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease). She put that same determination and web researching ability when my son was later diagnosed with a “milk allergy”. Little Lex has had it rough, and he still does at the time of this writing, but luckily his mother is a very perceptive and determined woman. If you and your child are not so lucky then you might consider developing your paternal instincts and researching skills. Either way, let me give you a good start.
My son started showing signs of colic before he left the hospital (2nd night of life). We thought the crying was normal until we started the second week and it got worse. His pediatrician diagnosed him with colic and started him on Enfamil’s Nutramigen formula (hypoallergenic formula, expensive). He stayed on this and breast milk until he was about 6 months old at which time he solely drank Nutramigen. Between his 7th and 8th month he had a Diarrhea that wasn’t going away and was really causing him damage down below.
Luckily Lex was already seeing a Pediatric Gastroenterologist for his reflux. He immediately suggested that Lex had a milk allergy and that we should change his formula to something even more elemental (I heard expensive and ele-what?). He pointed out that even Nutramigen had traces of milk and that if we merely changed the formula to this “elemental” thing we would see an improvement. He was right. After securing some office samples of Abbott’s Elecare we were ready. Anyway, the Elecare, as bad as it tastes did the trick. Lex started feeling better and the explosions in his diaper subsided. We were very happy. My wife found out that some mothers in some forums had reported that their insurance covered Elecare. As it turns out ours did and we even had it delivered through Byram Healthcare (but I would switch to another provider if I could).
Calcium intake was not a concern of ours at that time, but just after his 1st birthday Lex stopped drinking his “milk” during the day. Suddenly we found ourselves looking for a supplemental source of calcium. Again, his mother pounced on this, but I jumped in too. My research mostly turned up articles that questioned the whole “got milk?” conspiracy. My research pointed to food high in calcium: certain beans, soybeans (he turned out to be allergic to soy too, I heard 20+% of those with dairy allergies are), cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, nuts, and oats (finally something he eats). I late discovered that figs were not that bad either.
An Appropriate Calcium Supplement for Toddlers
My wife also discovered that calcium in certain forms was an acceptable supplement for young children. Common calcium carbonate is not the best for young children as it can through off the pH of the digestive system and must not be consumed on an empty stomach. Bone Meal calcium can contain heavy metals. Better forms of calcium are calcium gluconate, calcium citrate, and calcium lactate. It is difficult to find these in a powdered form and without lots of added magnesium. Fortunately, my wife found the perfect solution. KAL’s Crystal Calcium has a mixture of calcium gluconate and calcium lactate that dissolves nicely in liquids. It also has some vitamin D as well which is actually something many children don’t get enough of.
According to my calculations we should serve my son 1 teaspoon per day. So we have been adding 1/2 of a teaspoon of the powder to his “sippy cup” twice a day. His “sippy cup” is usually just filled with 1 part juice and 6 parts water and yet he doesn’t seem to mind or notice the calcium supplement. We feel as though he had a growth spurt just after we started him on the calcium, but honestly, these little angels are moving targets and they make for some very loose test cases. At least, we feel the supplement is helping him. however, either way, we feel better and sometimes this is just as important.
Update November 9, 2009
We recently ran out of KAL Crystal Calcium and had to find a substitute quickly for our son, who can now eat small amounts of cheese. We also needed a reminder of how much calcium Lex needs at 3 years of age. We found this information in an article titled “Calcium and Your Child” at KidsHealth.org:
Although there isn’t definite scientific proof yet that taking in these amounts of calcium will result in stronger bones when kids grow up, the current recommendations are:
- 1 to 3 years — 500 milligrams of calcium daily
- 4 to 8 years — 800 milligrams
- 9 to 18 years — 1,300 milligrams
Getting enough calcium is just part of the equation. All children — from babies to teens — also should get 400 IU of vitamin D daily.
Update November 1, 2010
Lex is now 3.9 years old and his Milk Allergy is diminishing and is mostly under control, we believe that, aside from naturally growing out of the allergy, his regular consumption of Milk Kefir is aiding his digestion of dairy greatly. Please read this article “Milk Kefir for Children excellent Probiotics and a Milk Allergy Cure“