Friday, March 1, 2013

Remedying Reflux with Paleo?

Reflux, reflux, reflux.... The bane of my existence right now. We've been dealing with some pretty intense tummy issues for the little guy ever since he was born. Spitting up (well, more like copious amounts of vom), arching his back until he was practically in a back bend, hiccups, gurgling, not sleeping any longer than 15 minutes at a time, and the crying... Oh dear lord god, the crying. It never ever ends. It's pretty constant, all day, every day, except for the few fleeting moments of smiles and laughs and happy quiet time. But the crying would always start again and it's not like any baby crying I have ever seen. It's shrieking. For hours and hours.

At first the pediatrician tried to tell me he just has colic. I wasn't buying it. First of all, I'm not much of a believer in "colic" even though I've been told my baby has it. I don't believe babies cry for no reason. There is always a reason. And my baby is telling me something is wrong. My gut was telling me this was not okay and it was not normal. Granted, I was spoiled as a first-time mom because my first son was the world's easiest baby who rarely cried. But I knew that even if A was a fussy baby, this was not okay.

I immediately began examining what I was eating that could be irritating his sensitive tummy. I know that dairy is pretty much the #1 dietary issue with babies, so I decide to cut it out completely. When he was 5 weeks old, I went completely cold turkey off ALL forms of dairy including casein, whey, etc. I had a little list of hidden dairy ingredient names that I ended up memorizing and carried it in my purse and cross-referenced every single thing I ate to that list to make sure it was completely dairy-free. He was a new baby for 3 days. Then the crying started back up again. I decided dairy was likely part of the problem but clearly not all of it.

I called a local chiro who specializes in pediatric chiropractic care including cranial sacral therapy. I'd read that babies needed to be adjusted after birth anyway and that sometimes reflux could be greatly improved just by making a few adjustments. We saw the chiropractor when he was 6 weeks old and she did say he was in need of an adjustment. She worked her magic and he fell asleep for awhile. Then woke up fussier than ever. But the next day he was wonderful. New baby again. It was crazy how much of an improvement it was... for a few days. And then it was back. She diagnosed him with a posterior tongue tie and she believes that all of his issues are related to that. She recommended I take him to a local (local is a general term... it's an hour away, folks) pediatrician who is also an IBCLC and specializes in tongue-ties. Ok, I'm game for anything that will make this better even thought the thought of clipping his tongue skeeves me out and sounds painful (apparently it's not as awful as it sounds.) So I called and made an appointment.

The next week we were going in for his 2 month check up, so I asked his pediatrician to take a look and mentioned that the chiropractor we'd seen strongly recommended having his tongue-tie corrected. He agreed he does have a mild posterior tongue-tie, but insisted it was nothing that was severe enough to require correcting and said he'd rather not put him through the procedure if it was unnecessary. He'd been gaining weight well and nursing fine. His doctor diagnosed him with severe reflux and prescribed him 1ml Zantac 2x/day. After talking to his pediatrician, I had second thoughts and cancelled the tongue-tie eval appointment. I had some reservations about giving him medication, which I mentioned to the chiro. She encouraged me NOT to give the meds and pushed to get the tie fixed. I didn't know what to do so I sat on both for awhile to think. We continued to see the chiro every week for a month until she finally said there was nothing more she could do for him unless we got the tie corrected. I called the other pediatrician again to reschedule the appointment except this time she's moved practices and isn't currently accepting insurance. Awesome. We decide to put it on the back burner and I examine other options.

After my 5,325,325,232 freak out to my friend about how I couldn't handle the crying any more and how I'd tried EVERYTHING, she finally said, "Have you tried the medication?" I said, "No, I don't want to medicate him. What if he doesn't need it?" She said, "I think he sounds miserable and he needs relief. YOU need relief. What if you just did a 3 day trial? For 3 days you give him the meds and see how it goes. If it doesn't help, at least you tried, but maybe it will." That sounded reasonable enough, so I decided to try the Zantac. It smelled AWFUL. I gave it to him and he choked and spit most out, but after about 30 minutes he calmed down. And he was calm the rest of the night! I kept giving it as prescribed and it did seem to help. It didn't cure the reflux and it didn't make him happier, but it did seem to take the edge off. I still wasn't comfortable with him being on it though, so I continued to examine my options.

If it's not dairy, what else could it be? I search the blogs and good God, it could be ANYTHING. Soy, gluten, nuts, eggs, meat, vegetables... I started looking at elimination diets. I am overwhelmed at this point and so incredibly stressed and frazzled from the constant screaming. The constant, all the time screaming that never ever ever never ever ends. A friend of mine and my brother were doing the paleo diet and they were telling me how great they feel. Paleo seemed pretty intense because it eliminated well, everything, so I decided to read up on it. I read that it can heal the gut and reverse digestive issues as well as many other benefits. I'd been wanting to get rid of sugar and processed foods for a long time anyway, so I talked to Jim about it and he said he'd try it, why not. I was already completely off dairy, which had eliminated a lot of things as it was, so a few more restrictions didn't seem like that big a deal. Paleo it is.

We started strict paleo on February 18, 2013. I jumped in 100% but Jim takes a more 80/20 approach. That's okay. It was my idea and he's just along for the ride. The first week I didn't notice much change in Aven at all (although I quickly dropped 5lbs!), but by Saturday, he was suddenly very, very chill. Sunday was even better, and Monday he was a new baby again. It was a miracle! I didn't want to jinx it. I didn't know if the diet is working or if it was a fluke. Today is Friday and we had a rough night, but I also did have some tamari in a recipe last night and for lunch today and I suspect that must've messed with his stomach. (Noted, A. It won't happen again.)This was the first rough night we have had all week. He has only needed his Zantac 3x this week. His reflux symptoms have nearly disappeared. I hope this is helping him and healing his little tummy (you know, when I don't mess up by eating a soy product.) It's not as hard as I thought it would be to cut it all out. I don't even really miss the dairy and sugar like I thought I would. I can stick to this. Especially if it's helping my little guy and it definitely seems to be!

In other news, Kellan decided tonight (after 2 weeks of incredibly limited sugar) that the promise of Jake and the Neverland Pirates fruit snacks was worth it for him to try pooping or peeing in the potty. I told him if he pooped or peed in it, I'd send Jim out immediately to get the treats. He sat on that potty for a good hour and nothing happened. He even tried pushing on his belly and yelling, "PEE PEE WATERS COME OUT!!! COME OUT RIGHT NOW!!!" and nada. I felt bad telling him that he had to pee or poop to actually get the fruit snacks, but I can't give up the goods just for sitting. I did print the sticker chart and he got a sticker for sitting. I even told him we can pick out awesome underpants to wear instead of diapers. He was skeptical until he fel in love with a bright pink and purple pair of Doc McStuffins undies. It'd be fab if this is the start of some serious potty training. We'll see what happens...

**UPDATE** We have now been paleo for over a month and Aven is completely off his reflux meds and has been for a couple weeks now. His spitting up has decreased a TON and so has his gassiness. He's so much happier and more comfortable. I am so excited this worked so well for him! Bonus: I am now almost 15lbs lighter and feeling great too! Kellan is still not potty-trained...

**UPDATE** We've been paleo now for 6 months. Jim and I have both lost over 50lbs doing nothing more than just eating right. Aven is no longer spitting up and his reflux is a distant memory. Kellan is still not potty-trained. Check out my review of the book that changed our lives, Practical Paleo here!


  1. OMG Kellan cracks me up! Pee pee waters come out, bahahahah! :) I'm so glad the diet is helping little A! You're such a great mama.

  2. Oh wow, I feel like I was writing the first few paragraphs of this--dealing with crying baby all day long, every day . . . Saw ur response on FB re dealing with colic and I am 100% going to try this diet. THANK YOU!!!!

    1. I really hope it helps your little one to feel better! Those were some long, hard days, but once we got into the routine it has been very easy to eat paleo - we even did a paleo Thanksgiving this year and it was DELICIOUS! :) Good luck!


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