If not milk, then what??

A few people commented on my Yahoo groups about the milk post, or on Facebook, so I wanted to address a few of those comments here:

* If I don’t give my kids milk, then what do I give him/her?

I might be completely off base here, but in my opinion, the best possible liquid to get into our kids is WATER! As you can probably tell by some of the posts I’ve written, I’m big on water. Our body is 70% water, and it needs hydration to function properly. A lack of hydration leads to many many problems. Water can also be curative. Alkaline water helps to keep the body at a slightly alkaline pH, which helps with many many things. There are books written on the subject so if you are interested, search the web! So the first thing I offer Nathan throughout the day, with meals, etc is water. However, I’ve been told by our nutritionist, Miranda Barret, that it’s not good to drink liquids with meals. You can consume about 1/2 cup with your meals, but water should be consumed 45 min’s before or after a meal. The reason is liquids dilutes the digestive enzymes needed for the stomach to properly break down food. So with meals, I give Nathan a tiny bit of water, and that’s it. Throughout the day, I offer him his cup many many times to get him to increase his intake of water.
In terms of milk replacements, there are some wonderful alternatives: almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and hemp milk. Just be careful when you choose the brand – look at the label – make sure it’s NOT processed at a facility that processes wheat and dairy products.
Why not soy, you may be asking? The reason is that soy is also a big allergen. The peptides in soy products are smaller than in dairy, but still quite large. So I would avoid soy and go with one of the milks above. Also, it’s good to rotate the milks and not always stick to the same one over and over again, to prevent an intolerance from being formed.

* What about raw milk? Is it also harmful?

I honestly do not have an answer to this. I was told by a few people that raw milk has many good qualities, including enzymes and other health benefits. This would be a good topic for research, especially if raw milk is an option for you.

* My child NEEDS pediasure or a dairy formula to gain weight.

This is a pretty subjective topic and there are many varied opinions on this. Nathan’s doctor has always been from the school of thought that if he looks healthy, is getting taller, and is not sickly, then who cares if he doesn’t gain weight. In fact she thinks it’s great as it’s easier to carry a lighter disabled child. Someone recently showed me a growth chart which I think supports Dr. F’s views:
According to this chart, Nathan is in the 90% percentile for height and 50% for weight – for his level of mobility and disability.
I am not really sure what the argument is from the other side of the camp, as I haven’t experienced that. But I read posts all the time about parents whose doctors insist on high calorie diets for weight gain. Maybe someone can comment on this?

* My child cannot consume enough food by mouth to maintain proper calorie intake

How about a mixture? First trying to give them as much food real, healthy food as possible, then supplementing with formula. Of course life isn’t absolute, we can only do the best we can!!! We puree Nathan’s food to help with increase his intake. We also feed him about 6 times a day. Since it is tiring for him to eat, we give him 6 smaller meals so he can maintain his intake. We have also trained him to accept bigger spoonfuls so that we don’t spend hours feeding him each time! Each feeding takes a max of 20 min’s. This is something that his dad should take 100% credit for. Since Nathan was 6 months old, he insisted on giving him huge spoonfuls of food, and never gave up on teaching him to eat. I think that practice makes perfect, because placing such a demand on his body and brain made him learn how to do it! So Nathan eats pretty well – his foods are mostly pureed – but he handles them quite well because of all the practice he’s had. So in short – many smaller meals, as much nutritous foods as possible, using formula as a last resort.

* My child has a g-tube. What can I do?

Since Nathan doesn’t have a g-tube and I have no formal training other than my own personal experience, I do not have an answer to this question. However, I have heard many moms talk about using blenderdized diets for their kids with G-tubes. They use very high quality blenders to make the food very very very liquidy, then they push the food through the tube. I believe there are some Yahoo groups about this, here is one that I found: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Blenderized-Diet/. I am sure there are more. Once you get the hang of the blenderized diet, then it would be important to find foods that boost caloric intake and oils. I will do some research on this and write a post about it soon.

* But what will I give my child when we go to restaurants?

The # 1 line of defense is – always make a bit of extra food and keep it in a tupperware at home! Whenever we go out to eat, we try to always bring Nathan’s food. Sometimes obviously this isn’t possible, so we try to find restaurants that we know will have food that he can eat: fried, baked, and mashed potatoes (careful, they’re often made with milk!), rice, beans, and soups. We always ask if what we order is made with milk – you’d be surprised at the places where milk is snuck in (many different soups). Ah, I just realized – it’s harder for us because Nathan doesn’t eat wheat either, so it limits us greatly. If you give your child wheat, then you have more choices. We’ve found that Nathan has never starved and we have always found something that we can feed him – even if it’s just french fries (most restaurants have french fries). We mash them with a fork or our fingers and feed them to him. He can’t speak, but with his eyes or sounds or gestures will often “ask us” for food – it’s hard saying know. But we know that the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. Oh, and we never eat candy or ice cream in font of him – that unhinges him. Food he can tolerate not getting any, but if he sees candy or ice cream, forget it. If he goes to a party or a place where we know he will inevitably see candy, we make him a batch of GFCF brownies or cake at home and bring it, and we substitute what other kids are eating with his own. Yes, it takes a bit of thought to do this – but it’s doable, I promise!!!

Okay, enough for today. Please let me know if you have more questions that we can all discuss! It would be wonderful if others shared their experiences so we can all help each other out!!!


  1. I am working with a dietician to increase my son’s weight. We are now dairy free & working towards gluten free. Its true that some babies need high calories to gain weight, but they really have to be the right calories. Ex. I mix 2 oz. of coconut milk w/ 6 oz. of soy milk for him to drink Its working though:)

  2. Thanks for the growth charts! Jack is 50th percentile on this one, too!

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