The Lactose Intolerant Toddler

When Monkey was diagnosed with bronchiolitis in January, it was a very scary time. We had to spend about 6 hours in the emergency room, which was a first for Monkey. Little did I know my world would once again be rocked, but by this time another illness, which led to an intolerance.

After recovering from bronchiolitis, Monkey started to have diarrhea. I know that when a child has diarrhea, it is important to keep them hydrated. It is also important to start the BRAT diet and avoid dairy, especially milk. The BRAT diet consists of bread, rice, applesauce, and toast. The BRAT diet should help with diarrhea. Unfortunately, diarrhea kept happening. This is a tough thing to deal with because there was only so much I can do as Monkey’s mom.

10 days later it appeared that his diarrhea had slowly subsided. Great news. Following the weekend, Monkey was cleared to return to school. Little did I know, after picking him up in the afternoon, we made another visit to the emergency room. Monkey’s teachers informed me that he had not had a wet diaper all day, which is a red flag as it is a sign of possible dehydration. They offered him water several times throughout the day, however simply refused. On my way home, I called the pediatrician, who informed me to take Monkey straight to the ER. If he was indeed dehydrated, the pediatrician’s office cannot administer an IV of fluids. This was the last thing I wanted to hear, but I knew it was for the best.

Once we were checked in by the hospital staff, Monkey started to drink water and have wet diapers, go figure. He was checked out by the doctor. He informed us Monkey had a mild case of dehydration and IV fluids were not needed. After eating a messy, yet delicious popsicle, we were sent home.

Finally, the BRAT diet had done its job. Monkey continued to have several wet diapers throughout the day. It was time to reintroduce milk back into his diet. I thought to myself, great we are back on track. However, every time Monkey would drink milk, his diarrhea returned. I decided to do some research and found that children do become temporarily lactose intolerant after gastrointestinal (tummy) issues.

Yet again, we stopped consumption of dairy and then slowly reintroduced. I knew this was no longer temporary. Temporary lactose intolerance lasts a maximum of two weeks and here we were week 5 of everything. I decided to make an appointment with our pediatrician to discuss our options.

Monkey had lost over one pound during the last 5 weeks, which is not surprising because it appeared everything he ate, came right back out. Our pediatrician recommended we try Lactaid milk, which is 100% lactose-free. She said if he continues to do well on it, offer a maximum of 20 ounces per day. The pediatrician was not concerned with his weight. She knows he can quickly put it back on with a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats, such as peanut butter and avocado.

Unfortunately, at Monkey’s age, there is no true test for lactose intolerance, as it is all trial and error. I am happy to know what is wrong with him and the steps we need to take to get him healthy again.

Is your child lactose intolerant? What foods and snacks do you provide?

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