Claire, founder of Jack’s Pantry, shares how her son’s intolerance and allergies inspired her to open her own business specialising in baby and toddler food that is free from dairy, soya, egg and gluten – to help other allergy families in their weaning journey.
When Jack was born prematurely, it was a shock, I didn’t even have a hospital bag packed at 33 weeks let alone know what to expect with delivery! I had attended one NCT class and the very next day taken into hospital with extremely high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. I’m not going to lie, it was terrifying but I remained calm somehow!
A few days after Jack was born I was able to see him in SCBU, he was so tiny and fragile but they said he was doing well, except for the fact he kept being sick when they tube fed him. I watched a couple of tube feeds and saw him squirm, let out lots of little cries and just generally be distressed, I knew something wasn’t right. Being a first time mum you just don’t know, you trust the people around you who say “it’s normal” and “it’s because his tummy is premature”, I’ve worked with children for 18 years and never have I witnessed this. A couple of days later I noticed Jack continue the vomiting, the squirming, the cries and said to the nurse in charge “I think he has reflux, he needs something to stop him being so uncomfy” and they just said “okay” and got him gaviscon prescribed. This did not help one iota! It wasn’t until we were released from the hospital 2 weeks later that, as his feeds got bigger his reactions got stronger. Dan and I were beside ourselves with worry, he was refluxing, silent refluxing, rashing, arching his back, screaming and not sleeping, something told me there was something wrong! I was expressing breast milk and we thought it might be wind related at first, I cut out the cruciferous vegetables and foods that gave me indigestion in pregnancy, we changed bottles thinking it’s gas related but still no improvement!
I started taking him to the doctors, repeatedly, I finally found a doctor who listened to me and saw Jack’s distress, his hives, his rashes, his projectile vomiting, his arching his back and two over tired parents who hadn’t slept in two months. She told me to exclude dairy and soya from my diet, changed reflux medication and referred us to an allergist and paediatrician….it turns out Jack was dairy, soya, egg, potato, carrot, palm oil and coconut.
Jack is now 3 and as active as ever, we were so lucky that the palm oil, carrot and potato were grown out of within 2 year and the egg was a non IgE reaction (non alphylactic). It took us a long time to get those back in his diet in fact, the egg we have only just passed the ladder successfully but still have quite severe reactions to dairy and soya. We have to retry ladders every 6 months just to retest the reaction he has.
Jack loves playing outside, climbing on everything, playing with duplicate and all kinds of imaginative play! Looking at him now you’d never imagine he was premature!
Help with weaning for intolerance and allergies…
From this we learnt that weaning on the go was tricky with allergies, especially multiple allergies. You can find some dairy free items or some gluten free items in supermarkets but multiple allergy weaning is tricky! We decided to open an online store for multiple allergy babies and toddlers with some delicious granolas for older children and parents alike who suffer with dairy, soya, egg and gluten allergies!
Visit www.jackspantry.com for more information and get in touch if you have any stock requests or questions!
CLAIRE’S TOP TIPS…
*If you think something isn’t right, go to your GP, as many times as it takes.
*Arching of backs, rashes and vomiting can be reflux related but more likely to be intolerance related.
*If you have skin reactions (hives , rashes and eczema) it is likely to be a reaction to something ingested – keep a good diary.
*If your baby suffers respiratory distress, anaphylactic shock or becomes unresponsive call 999 immediately.
*Dairy and Soya proteins are recognised as similar products in the body so don’t be surprised if you have to exclude both from your diet.
*Blood in stools is NOT normal – seek urgent medical advice.
*For milk allergies, trying goats, buffalo , sheep’s milk is unlikely to not cause a reaction.
*When weaning look out for “May contains” on packaging.
*When cooking think simply – everything can be adapted to accommodate any allergy.
*Trust yourself and your instinct, whether you are a new parent or are a parent of more than one you do know your baby (even when you have just met).
*Do not give up, get tested, get answers and get medical attention.