Ugh. I wish I didn’t have to write this post, but I feel like this information has to be out there for new moms. When I Google searched, there was little to no information on cradle cap/eczema issues related to going dairy-free. And traditional avenues like doctors and lactation consultants were no help whatsoever. I hope that sharing my story (and my recipes too!) will help someone else out there when traditional medicine fails.
My Jonny Boy was born Labor Day weekend. Both of my pregnancies were very different, one boy and one girl. Jonny was wayyyy different in the hospital than Rosie was: he was calm and chill; Rose was colicky and screamed pretty much from day one to about five months old!
When we arrived home, I noticed that Jonny was MUCH gassier than Rose had ever been. When I called the lactation consultant from the hospital, I asked if he could have a food sensitivity, AKA my food. She asked, “Are his stools normal? Is he throwing up frequently?” I said yes to the first question and no to the second. She as-a-matter-of-factly said, “No, then he’s fine.” I said okay and I chalked it up to both babies being very different.
Fast forward two months: although Jonny had no trouble sleeping, he was still kind of gassy, but his cradle cap was not going away. I scrubbed his head, put coconut oil/olive oil/all the oils on his head, but nothing seemed to take it away — and it would be back full-force within a day or two. What’s more frustrating is that every time I would mention it at his well visits, the first doctor told me that if it didn’t clear up soon, they would give him steroids to clear it up quickly. (This doctor said that it was even in his ear canals.) He told me to wash his head with Selsun Blue and it would be fine. A month later, a second doctor said that I “should be using coconut oil on his head and scrubbing it.” Welp, you’re right, doctor. It never crossed my mind to actually wash my child’s head. Thank you for your deep insight. Even at this point, I knew in my gut that something inside him needed fixing.
When we arrived at my parents’ house for the holidays, his skin actually worsened. He started to get patches of eczema all over his body, including his chest, arms, and mainly his thighs. It just looked awful. I remembered that when we started introducing Rose to cow’s milk, she was sensitive to dairy and broke out into eczema on her neck until we treated her with probiotics and special milk. (She eventually outgrew this sensitivity.) I thought, “That’s it! I need to take matters into my own hands.” So, at the end of December, I started eating dairy-free to see if it made an impact on Jonny’s skin. I’ve read that it sometimes take 4-6 weeks for dairy to complete leave your system, so I knew it would be a process. By the time our next well visit rolled around, I would be about 4 weeks detoxed from dairy. It was worth a shot! A few years ago, I heard that 90% of eczema issues are related to sensitivity to dairy and/or wheat. That’s what helped me with Rosie the first time around.
I reached out to a friend who I know was dairy-free while nursing all of her boys. I told her my story. She said, “Yes! That’s exactly why I gave it up!” And I knew that I was probably on to something.
At the point of me writing this post, we are about 6 weeks dairy-free. Jonny’s skin looks soooooo much better. His eczema is healing and his cradle cap is just a few tiny flakes now. I still put coconut oil and essential oils on his head and scrape off the excess weekly, but he looks so much better. I do think about Rosie’s colic from time to time; perhaps if I would have tried to go dairy-free with her, maybe she wouldn’t have been so colicky? If I had to do it over again, the two things I would change with my kids is to use essential oils on them from day one (with Jonny I did) and have a dairy-free diet while nursing them.
Essential Oils — currently I only use Young Living Essential Oils. Their Seed-to-Seal program guarantees that their essential oils are pure, free from pesticides, additives, and other under-handed ways of diluting them and their potency. For Jonny and his scalp, I often dilute a drop of lavender oil or geranium oil with coconut oil and massage it into his scalp. I love the smell of geranium oil on his head; it has the ability to release lingering anger or frustration too. Aside from his scalp, I use diluted Lavender, Valor, or Gentle Baby oil on his feet regularly. I also diffuse Peace & Calming oil in his room while he sleeps. For teething, I put Copaiba directly on his gums.
Probiotics & Skin Cream — my Aunt Diane, a naturopath, recommends this Natren vegan probiotic for infants and I’ve started using this vegan one for Rosie and myself. For his skin, I’ve been using this organic balm and this natural eczema cream.
Dairy-free Meals — here’s a listing of recipes or websites that have been my go-tos while becoming dairy-free. I might post a meal or two on here coming up!
Anything from Ambitious Kitchen. She has a lot of vegan/paleo things to eat! I love this Sloppy Joe Lentils & Spaghetti Squash recipe.
This ramen recipe from How Sweet Eats. Yum!
This homemade pizza crust recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I make it and then freeze it in two halves for our weekly pizza. I’ve been topping my portion of the pizza with black olives, nutritional yeast, fresh basil, diced bell pepper, and mushrooms. It tastes delicious!
Everything avocado toast — just toasted sourdough bread, a smooshed avocado chunk on top and Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning blend. YUM.
And there’s Morsels and Moonshine here! I have tons of dairy-free desserts and some real food on this site! If you’re hankering for some indulgent chocolates, try Vegan Treats or LA Burdick. They ship nationally!
By the way, when I went back to the doctor for our four month well visit, the doctor had the audacity to say to me, “Oh, his head looks dry. Maybe you should try some coconut oil.” Ummmmm excuse me? Didn’t you even bother to look at his chart before waltzing in here?! We’ve had this talk before. Thank you for caring so deeply for your patients. When I told her I’d been eating dairy-free to solve his skin problems, she said something to the effect of “Oh, good idea. I’m glad that’s working for you.” BUT YOU’RE THE ONE THAT SUPPOSED TO BE SUGGESTING THAT TO ME. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING ME.
I just wanted someone to say, “Hey, let’s talk about his skin. What are you doing to combat these problems and let’s troubleshoot.” Is that too much to ask? Needless to say, we’re looking for a new pediatrician.
Oh well. I hope this Internet post helps you, my friend. I hope your baby is happy and healthy and eczema free.