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Help me with DD's diet

(55 Posts)

DD is 16mo. She has had a runny nose/full on cold/cough almost ever since she was born-even the midwives in hospital commented that she was very mucusy. The weeks she's NOT ill stand out in my memory! She currently has a really bad cough and cold, has just come off antibiotics for a chest infection, had an ear infection (and more antibiotics) before Christmas and has had a vomiting bug twice.

Does this seem excessive in her short little life? I keep thinking that her immune system must be really bad for her to get all these bugs, but I THINK she has a good diet. A typical day at the moment:

Breakfast of ready brek or sometimes a piece of buttered toast with jam
and a bottle of full fat milk.

Lunch depends if she's at home or nursery-at nursery it's always a full hot meal and at home it's either something simple and hot, like beans on toast with cheese, or something cold like cheese, ham, vegetable sticks (like a salad) and new potatoes.

In the afternoon she sometimes has a snack of a breadstick, rice cake or a bit of fruit if she's hungry.

Tea is always a hot meal-we did BLW so she just eats with us and I cook without salt. Examples-risotto, bolognese, chilli, stew, pasta, omelette etc. She then usually has fruit for pudding, sometimes with yoghurt.

She has another bottle before bed.

We give her Abidec in the mornings with her breakfast. She's never been breastfed as she wouldn't latch on at all, despite the efforts of many midwives and health visitors. I am still hmm about this and upset that her immune system might be rubbish because of it. She was on Aptamil first milk until a year and has had full fat cow's milk since then.

Am I missing something here? Is her diet not as good as I think? She's always eaten pretty much anything she's given and the only thing she doesn't like is green beans! She rarely has junk-she had a tiny bit of chocolate cake on her birthday but on a day to day basis she doesn't eat sweet things except fruit.

I just don't want her to be so ill all the time. GP says it's just life but it honestly seems constant. The last time she didn't have a cold was August.

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 09:48:04

The average number of colds a child gets in their first few years is huge. If symptoms last for a week each time it can feel permanent. I suspect that if she had been breastfed and had the same amount of illnesses you would just think she was unlucky. Let it go - you can't turn back time. She sounds like she has an absolutely fantastic diet! As she gets older you'll find she picks up fewer things. Nursery is a bugger for spreading stuff around.

Thank you, that's encouraging. I think I'm not helped by my DM always making 'sympathetic' noises along the lines of 'they do say bottle fed babies get more colds...' She also gets constipated quite a lot (DD that is, not DM grin) and DM is convinced that's because she wasn't breastfed too.

LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 11:32:13

Stop with the milk! Dairy is mucous-forming.
My child is 2.3, has never had dairy, and never had a cold.

Better sources of calcium are:
Green leafy vegetables: spring greens, kale, broccoli, parsley.
(Spinach is not a good source of calcium. It is high in calcium, but the calcium is bound to oxalates and therefore poorly absorbed.)
Fortified foods such as soya milk
White flour (as calcium is added by law) and white flour products
Calcium-set tofu
Figs and black molasses

Examples of amounts of foods providing 100mg calcium3

Type of Food


Black Treacle



Chickpeas (boiled)

Curly Kale (boiled)


Chickpea flour



Soya Milk (calcium-fortified)

Spring Greens (cooked)


Tofu (made with calcium sulphate)

Watercress (uncooked)

White Plain Flour

Wholemeal Flour

White Bread

Wholemeal Bread

Brown Bread

Granary Bread

recall Sun 20-Jan-13 11:41:37

antoinette looking back, I remember once realising that my daughter had had a cough/cold for about 12 weeks, I have 3, and they were always snotty. And thinking about it, my mate's son used to run a temperature very regularly, about every 2 or 3 weeks. It seems to settle as they get older. I suffer from health anxiety, and would always get very frightened when they were ill, it feels like i spent the last 5 years in total fear. They are all fine now, and they do get colds etc, but seem to deal with it more easily. I remember coming on here, and someone (in true MN style) said they weren't "ill" just having common ailments, that snapped me out of it a bit. As well as diet, I think that a feeling of well being is important for health, a feeling that everything is alright in their little world. (not trying to patronise there smile )

Really? I thought they needed it for calcium and seems quite extreme to put a baby on a dairy-free diet. Did your baby have a lactose allergy? I don't think DD has any allergies.

Ontesterhooks Sun 20-Jan-13 11:59:33

Think of it as her building her immunity, my ds had a lot of colds as he was at nursery from 9 months, from the age of 3 the number dropped and he also shrugs offost illnesses much better than a friends dd who didn't go to nursery and is making up for it now by catching everything going at school (and missing a lot of school because of it !)

Thanks all, I think the idea of 'ailments' as opposed to illnesses is a good one-I'm just a bit paranoid I think. (And not totally over my PND.) I hope she has an amazing immune system when she's older to make up for all this!

brettgirl2 Sun 20-Jan-13 12:16:58

I think you need to tell your mum to stop making nasty snide comments about you not breastfeeding and how it's upsetting you. FWIW the breastfed babies I have known tend to get more things slightly later. In the end they surely all have to build their own immunity?

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 12:20:00

Milk absolutely definitely is not mucus forming. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory.

LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 12:56:27

Ok, well try it, OP, try cutting out the dairy, and see if your child's health improves. The milk and the cheese.
Dairy is bad for us. It leaches calcium from our bones. I have listed better sources for you.
No, my child doesn't have allergies, I just believe dairy is very unhealthy. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that he has never had a cold.
Admittedly he does not go to nursery, but he does go to soft play/gym class/music class/play centre etc, out in all weathers.

brettgirl2 Sun 20-Jan-13 13:00:57

I agree OP that entirely dairy free seems extreme. However 2 bottles of milk is also a lot of dairy on top of dairy in diet. I might try cutting it down.

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 13:03:02

Again, there is no evidence that dairy is mucus forming. Just saying.

LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 13:06:36

Cutting out dairy is not extreme. Continuing to consume it when a little research shows it it unhealthy, is extreme.
I have not had dairy in 13 years and haven't had a cold in all that time.

Here is some reading for you.


LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 13:12:20

nora, there is stacks of evidence that dairy is more harmful than beneficial, including being mucous forming. I am not saying drink milk and you will get mucous straight away. But get a hint of a cold, and your milk consumption will mean that cold sticks, and gets worse, and you will get mucousy and phlegmy and snotty. Don't have dairy in your diet, and you have more chances of warding off that virus.

Here, for starters:

In kinda with lentil! Dd2 was snotty and gunky from day one. She only stopped getting so many colds when her milk was switched to pepti formula. She's been dairy free now for two years and hardly ever gets ill despite the crap get older sister has brought home from school. My dd1 caught everything in reception and has yet to have a day off since I took her off milk a month before the summer holidays.

BUT I do agree that there's alot of conflicting information out there and it's totally the op's choice. I can understand why people find it hard to live without milk as its something many rely on when u have children. And u don't reAlise how much til u stop.

I hope your dd feels better soon op

LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 13:27:02

I am so pleased you have found an improvement in your DDs' health since giving up dairy, that is wonderful.

I agree there is lots of conflicting evidence out there. We can find 'evidence' for anything. In such cases, I think it makes sense to follow the money! Who is providing the 'evidence' for milk being good? Why, the dairy industry! Or, the government, having been paid by the dairy industry to do so!
Who is telling us dairy is bad? Lots of people, with nothing to gain.

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 13:33:24

I am not saying dairy is not bad for you (and in terms of animal welfare pretty evil). I am just saying it is not mucous forming here

Sarahplane Sun 20-Jan-13 13:35:00

My ds is 16 months too and in the last 3 months has had countless colds, diarrhoea, bronchiolitis and chicken pox. I feel like he's been constantly ill recently too but our gp says it's normal at this age and this time of year, especially when they're at nursery. My nephew who's 18 months and breastfed is very similar so don't beat yourself up about it. They just need to build up there immune system I think.

LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 13:37:01

Follows money ...

Some kids r just sickly kids regardless and they often just grow out of it. I know how awful I felt watching my dd sniffle and struggle for weeks. She had bronchiolitus twice and was never right inbetween. We were always up at night spraying saline up her nose desperate to clear the crap out of it. And I've no doubt with both my dds that the no milk was the best decision I ever made they r so much better for it. And agree that with the dairy industry funding god knows what ( make mine milk posters etc at your drs, cafes, sporting events etc) no ones gonna want to loose that by announcing its a bad thing!

op how about some home made soups, lentil chilli ginger squash etc are all really good for u and I always break out the soup when dd1 was ill in reception. It's a great way to cram
In as many veges as possible. As is a homemade tomato and veg sauce that you can use for bolognase and pasta etc. would u consider done vitamin drops? Fruit smoothies made from fruit juices whizzed up with berries, apples kiwis? Do u hae a juicer. Carrot orange and ginger for instance would be good. Heat of the ginger clears sinuses and carrot contains beta Carotine and orange juice helps you absorb iron. Could help.

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 13:39:04

There's money to be made for the other side too (look at homeopathy). Please keep an open mind in life.

cocolepew Sun 20-Jan-13 13:39:29

When DD2 was younger I stopped giving her so much dairy, she was incredibly snotty. It really helped her.

My brother saw a ENT specialist who told him to cut out dairy and nuts, of all things.

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 13:40:05

And bear in mind that I have had long periods of being dairy free and being vegan.

TitHead Sun 20-Jan-13 13:50:51

My DS has suffered with constipation from a few weeks old. He is now 2.2yrs we were told by the gp that milk can be constipating. Although he still has some milk in his diet we have cut it right down and noticed a massive difference.

LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 13:51:56

I don't see how homeopathy is 'the other side' in this discussion.

Anyway. I just wanted to make the no-dairy suggestion to the OP. She is now free to research further, try cutting out dairy, and see what happens.

OP, hope your DD gets better and stays better. x

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 13:52:10

Excellent - glad it helped your DS. He must be much more comfortable now.

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 13:57:09

I assumed your earlier follows money comment was in reference to my link. I merely used homeopathy to illustrate that mainstream and alternative views were both biased towards money. It was a poorly thought out choice of example as it is too emotive.

Yes, the OP should research it. But she should properly research it without giving to much wait to anecdotal evidence and using peer reviewed studies to form her opinions. I'm sure she will. I hope your DD gets better OP.

Blue berries! Very high in antioxidants

Turmeric contains circumin (sp) which has cold fighting properties.
And it's tasteless really so u can sprinkle in a soup or curry and she won't notice.

Garlic is good for u too so perhaps double up in her spag bol?

This has given me lots to think about-thanks for all the suggestions. She does eat a lot of fruit and veg, plus has the Abidec on our HV's advice when she moved from formula to cow's milk. I'll definitely read further about milk consumption-I hadn't really realised that what she has is considered a lot to be honest so it's good to know.

dikkertjedap Sun 20-Jan-13 14:04:45

Hello, I don't think I would cut out all dairy before discussing this with GP/paediatrician.

Has she been checked for cystic fibrosis? Have you asked for a referral to a paediatrician?

You could maybe also try to increase her fruit intake. An easy way is getting a juice extractor and you can very quickly and easily make fresh juice from pineapple/banana/apples/pears, whatever you fancy.

redwellybluewelly Sun 20-Jan-13 14:09:05

Dairy isn't bad for you - but if your DD has a slight cows milk protein intolerance then the (quite large) about of dairy she is consuming could be contributing to the excess mucous.

You've posted saying you are concerned about yoru DD number of colds, runny nose and mucosness, that was the first thing that came to my mind that you could attempt even for a short 10-14 days (which is how long it takes) to see if things improve. Cut down if you don;t want to staop but I doubt you would see conclusive results.

Also - does your DD attend daycare of any sort? They're little plague rats at that age wink but its the from birth bit which is really making me wonder.

*disclaimer I am not a doctor but my DD is severely CMPI and other than colic when she gets fed milk accidentley she gets very mucousy and it is a common symptom. We use Oat milk as an alternative and it works well, quite sweet like baby milk, and makes beeeeyoutiful rice puddings

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 14:16:12

Incidentally a fair few of the high calcium foods that are listed above also contain zinc which can help reduce the length of a cold if taken soon enough. It may be worth trying to increase zinc in you DD's diet as well. If the average child gets 10-12 colds a year up to the age of three and the duration is about 10 days each time she would only need to be a bit above average for it to feel permanent! Rereading your OP though, it is not just colds that you are worrying about - the chest and ear infections and two vomiting bugs just sound like a run of bad luck.

Redwellybluewelly makes a good point about CMPI.

tempnameswap Sun 20-Jan-13 14:26:45

Yep I would cut out dairy for a couple of weeks and see if there is an improvement. I always thought dairy was essential but it just isn't if you take care to introduce other calcium rich foods. There is plenty of evidence that rates of osteoperosis are higher in groups who eat large amounts of dairy (exactly the opposite of what was expected).

I have one child who is anaphylactic to dairy (so absolutely has to avoid it) and one who definitely gets more colds (and sleeps less well) if she has dairy. It seems as if she has an intolerance and her immune system is 'diverted' if you like, attacking the dairy rather than the virus.

It takes a leap of faith to reduce dairy but it can't be nice for anyone to bill ill so much.

PS I am a medic and most would be against cutting out a whole food group. I reckon time will show us that no one needed as much dairy as we thought...

tempnameswap Sun 20-Jan-13 14:27:31

be ill obviously...

MulledWineandScully Sun 20-Jan-13 14:31:37

Hi Antoinette, my DD is 15mo and I could've written your OP. the only difference is that I did bf to 9mo, so stop beating yourself up (or letting your DM beat you up!) that it's because you didn't bf!

My DD has a very similar diet to your DD's although we mix and match between follow on milk and full fat cows milk (just because we bought the tins on offer and seem to have heaps of it to get rid of!). She has had what seems a constant cold or cough since she was 9mo which coincidentally is when I went back to work and she started mixing with other children smile She seems to have a cold when the rest of them are fine though, but she is the littlest. I tell myself it's building her immune system ready for school. I totally sympathise as its really wearing especially when you work and aren't getting a proper night's sleep.

A relative of mine ff her baby (same age) from birth, and she has a terrible diet but is rarely ever ill. She doesn't mix with other children though so its swings and roundabouts.

I get the opposite reaction from my MIL who takes pleasure that my fancy notions of bf'ing have all come to nought, or some such (she never liked it that i bf) Erm, that wasn't why I did it!

I have a dairy intolerance myself which manifests like hay fever but is not enough to put me off the white stuff. I'm not cutting it out of my DD's diet any time soon.

I've googled CMPI and cystic fibrosis and am pretty sure they don't apply-thank goodness!

Am going to read about dairy.

redwellybluewelly Sun 20-Jan-13 14:33:28

Oh and I BF to 27months so I'm pretty sure that isn't a factor, was she a colicky/refluxy baby?

MulledWine what is it with DMs and their 'helpful' comments?!

shrinkingnora Sun 20-Jan-13 14:34:53

Just as an aside, a child I know had the same thing (constant runny noses, colds, ear infections) had his tonsils and adenoids out and was immediately fine!

She didn't have reflux. At the time we thought she had colic but looking back I don't think it was-she settled pretty quickly compared to things I've heard about other babies with real colic. She's always grown well and is quite big for her age.

The more I think about it the more I think it's got considerably worse since she started nursery, so I think it probably is other children's germs coming into play...(don't they know to stay away from my PFB?!) The dairy/mucous link is interesting though. She's quite recently dropped from 3 to 2 bottles a day and that doesn't seem to have made a difference, but then I guess 2 a day (so approx 360ml, plus what goes into her breakfast) is still quite a lot.

hugoagogo Sun 20-Jan-13 14:38:09

It is quite normal for babies to catch everything going. It does seem constant at this age, especially as she goes to nursery.

Please do not remove dairy without medical advice, some people are quite evangelical about encouraging people to cut milk from their diets, I would take their advice with a pinch of salt.

<just had to google adenoids, feeling dumb!>

I'm would never cut anything without research and medical advice, don't worry smile

I, not I'm.

hugoagogo Sun 20-Jan-13 14:44:33

Good to hear. smile

She sounds like she's doing fine, try not to worry.

tempnameswap Sun 20-Jan-13 15:08:15

The thing is, OP you will not get medical advice to cut out dairy because this is one area where I believe medical science lags behind. But cutting it down/out for a couple of weeks will do no harm and you may see an improvement.

Yes it is normal to be ill quite a bit for the first 5 years of life whilst the immune system is developing, but i think up to about 8 colds/viruses a year is normally quoted. Your situation sounds considerably worse than this so something does sound as if it might be up.

I would do your dairy reduction and if there is no improvement then go back to the GP, or see another, and stress just how much of the time she is ill. Some tests might be needed.

Good luck OP (and btw it often isn't until you have major issues that you question the role of dairy so the 'pinch of salt' advice is IMHO misguided. Those who have questioned dairy may just have more experience/ researched it a bit more and not just accepted the received wisdom that dairy is essential).

tempnameswap Sun 20-Jan-13 15:10:18

And btw runny noses can be a symptom of a food intolerance so while those who reject the dairy = mucus have a point, this isn't the full story.

tempnameswap Sun 20-Jan-13 15:13:25

Just one other medic who doesn't think dairy is essential....

My sympathies OP.

I've really noticed with my DSs that starting nursery is the start of two years hard slog with every ailment going. Mine tended to be ok in their last year, I just assumed they'd exhausted all the bugs, but then going into reception starts it off again - with nits to add to the fun!

Oldest just started secondary. Same again <sigh>

Freshers' Flu next wink

hugoagogo Sun 20-Jan-13 15:33:37

dd is lactose intolerant btw.

Most people are not.

What is it House says? Something about 'when you hear hooves think horses not zebras'

redwellybluewelly Sun 20-Jan-13 15:39:35

OP just to add I am not an evangelical cut everything out type of person. I would like nothing more than to load my DD with full fat milk, cheese on toast, chocolate, icecream and yummy yoghurts. We do a milk trial every 3-4 months to see if she has outgrown it because I want her to have a childhood as close to others as possible. Nothing brought it home quite as much as the Easter party last year when my DD was sat with a gingerbiscuit while other children at nursery ate crumpets, and scones piled high with cream

It is a complete PITA and I have to watch her calcium intake very carefully.

tempnameswap Sun 20-Jan-13 16:16:47

It isn't just lactose intolerance though hugoagogo! Much more common is an intolerance to cow's milk protein, in varying degrees of severity.

And FWIW I think it negligent to categorically say there is nothing wrong with the OP's child. One month in 16 without a virus/illness may just be bad luck but it might well not be.

Those who only focus on the horses risk having a less good quality of life than they might!

Glimmerberry Sun 20-Jan-13 16:23:44

Dairy does seem to be mucous inducing -my 16 month old sounds similar to yours. If he's having a bad time with a cold we do cut back for a day or two, or avoid dairy toward the evening and he seems to get a better night's sleep with less coughing.

redwellybluewelly Sun 20-Jan-13 16:53:40

Yes - lactose intolerance is much more rare - CMPI is actually quite surprisingly common, and many children outgrow it

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