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A mum and bubs allergy story

Author Libby Cunniffe

A mum and bubs allergy story

My pregnancy was a dream, I was fit as I continued walking an hour every day and doing Pilates three times a week and I was also healthy, eating a very wholefood based diet with minimal processed food and I didn’t limit any food groups.

I read pregnancy books, I paid attention to a variety of ideas, had an open mind to all things ante and postnatal and I am a bachelor qualified early childhood teacher. I thought I would have it sorted, this baby business would be a breeze. That was until I found out that my body would not produce breast milk.

This is where our allergy journey began. July 2012 when Sarah was a tiny five weeks old.

I had no knowledge of allergies, intolerance's, benefits, detriments, all I knew was that I was going to breastfeed and that’s all that my baby would need. As I stood in the supermarket aisle staring at the formula tins I was overwhelmed….dairy, soy, goats, HA, lactose free just to name a few. I knew nothing at this point and so went with a cow’s milk based formula that was middle of the road price wise.

Sarah loved her bottles, which is a blessing since I had no breast milk to give her, but once it was down it was projectile vomited back up. EVERY SINGLE TIME. I thought I was over feeding her, but at this point she was only having 50mls per feed. I decreased this back to 30mls and she would keep it down some of the time. Then the eczema started appearing, in less obvious places to begin with and the on her face. She was constantly itchy and rubbing her face on me to relieve her irritation. It pained me to see her like this but I was told to keep on doing what I was doing as it was ‘working’, in their eyes (this being medical professionals).

The projectile vomiting continued but not every time but this meant that I isolated myself at home in the middle of rural north Canterbury so that I didn’t have to feed her anywhere else. At 4 months I had had enough and began to seek additional professional help in the form of someone more knowing with allergies and intolerances. Sarah was skin pricked tested and came back severely allergic to all nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, sesame, wheat and dust mites. I sat there absolutely gobsmacked and walked away with a prescription for a specialty formula. The projectile vomiting continued. The eczema remained.

I was lost so I started her on solids thinking this might help. It made it all worse and the vomiting continued and the eczema got worse.

I went back to the professional and spent another small fortune. Skin prick tests all came back worse, particularly dairy, eggs, soy and nuts. They had escalated immensely. I walked away with a prescription formula. The projectile vomiting continued. The eczema remained.

I was beating myself up, day in and day out. Literally spending every waking minute trying to research allergy treatment, immunotherapy, trying to work out why she was still so very sick while on an amino based formula. No dairy, no eggs, no nuts no soy….apparently. Until I got the tin one night and I sat and I googled every single ingredient in that formula. So, I hear you ask what was actually in it. Well apart from the ridiculous amount of glucose and corn syrup there was a percentage of soy oil. Less than 10% but soy oil was still an ingredient. The professional got a very angry phone call from me along the lines of ‘you told me she was severely allergic to soy but yet you have given me a formula that is part soy, why???’ the response ‘most children who have a soy allergy can tolerate the soy protein which is what the soy oil is.’


I had lived this every second of everyday for almost 8 months, my daughter had lived the first eight months of her life in pain and this person had been prescribing her something for 4 months that was slowly poisoning her……needless to say I was not impressed and ended our affiliation right then and there.

I also stopped giving her the prescription formula and started her on an alternative form of milk, which was rice milk. Why did I choose rice milk, at this point it was the one thing I knew that she could stomach and that was the most important thing to me, that she was not in pain anymore.

One day on rice milk... no vomiting
Two days... no vomiting
A week... no vomiting.
A month... no vomiting and her eczema was subsiding. I stayed with rice milk, while I almost restarted her on solids from scratch (I realised in hindsight that giving her too many foods too soon was overloading her delicate and damaged digestive system). As the solids became her main source of nutrition I weaned her off bottles of rice milk and by 15 months she was simply eating a nutritionally balanced diet (as much as she could with her other allergies).

Sarah is now 4.5 years old and still has severe allergies bordering on anaphylaxis to raw eggs, peanuts and cashews but I truly believe that had I continued on the path that we were on using the formula with soy in it she would be a very, very sick little girl today. The damage that was done in those four months is still a work in progress as I have had to detox her system, build it back up, retrain it to know that it was ok, and then help Sarah on the journey of not fearing food and drink.

I have two other children aged 2.5 and 14 months. Neither of them have presented with allergies (yes I have chosen to have them all skin prick tested at a very young age so I knew what I was dealing with). All three pregnancies were the same and I also never got any milk in with my younger children. All three of my children do not eat soy or dairy which is a decision that I have made based upon observation and research that I have undertaken for the health of my family. Sarah has not had soy since she was eight months old and knowing what I know now, I have made the informed decision that soy is not and never will be part of our family’s diet.


Please note: This mother ran out of options, that's why she made the decision to reach for rice milk. Rice milk is high in sugar and not an option in the majority of cases.

Last Updated: 14 November 2016