Did you know that CMPA (Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy) occurs in 2-3% of babies, with symptoms usually appearing before 12 months of age? We get so many questions here at Mamamade HQ from parents of children with a range of allergies but CMPA is by far the most common. One of the big reasons we started Mamamade and ensured that we were naturally free from the big-8 allergens was exactly this - we didn’t want any parent to have to compromise on taste, nutrition and convenience.
As ever, we always aim to make our community of parents feel supported, informed, connected 🥰 So, we asked a Mum from our community about her experience of raising a CMPA baby, the symptoms associated with this (which can often be hard to diagnose) and how their family adapts to living with a baby who has a milk allergy.
I got the chance to interview Mia Astill AKA @mamma_mia _home on Instagram 📸 Read on as we chat about how she manages a family around CMPA, her motherhood experiences, top recommendations and so much more 👀
Q. Mia, tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your beautiful children...
Hi, I'm Mia! I am a wife to my amazing husband Ben and a mum to two children; Luna who's five years old and Oakley, who's eight months. We love spending quality time together, especially outdoors and documenting snippets of our everyday life on Instagram @mamma_mia _home.
Q. How old was Oakley when he started displaying allergy symptoms when given milk? And what were the symptoms that he'd get?
Oakley is exclusively breastfed; he started displaying allergy symptoms from birth, but it took a while to link the two together. He struggled with terrible skin reactions on his face and neck, which was initially put down to baby acne. Alongside that, Oakley struggled with wind and digestion, and we found that his nappies progressively got worse as time went on.
When he was at two months, we tried giving Oakley a bottle of cow's milk-based infant formula when he'd stay at his nana's house. He immediately projectile vomited! So then we suspected that he had a Cow's Milk Allergy. We then got a referral for a dietician when Oakley was six months, and that's when he was professionally diagnosed.
I must say that It was a long road to get a diagnosis with multiple doctors trips and health visitor appointments. As you can imagine being a parent, it was a stressful journey.
Q. Many parents aren't aware of Cow's Milk Protein Allergy. Did you know what CMPA was before Oakley was diagnosed?
Before, I had heard about CMPA but only through brief discussions with my mum, friends, and family members. I wasn't prepared or even aware of what it involved! Especially when it comes to the severity of some of the babies' symptoms.
Q. Allergies can sometimes be seen as a phase, the child's body trying to adjust or be overlooked as minor. When did you decide to get Oakley seen by a doctor, and how was that experience?
The first time I took Oakley to the Dr was about his skin at maybe a month old. It didn't seem to be clearing and was weeping; however, the doctors put it down to infant acne. It wasn't until Oakley started to have foul-smelling nappies with mucus and blood! That's when it clicked; Oakley might be having an allergic reaction at almost three months. I saw a student doctor; she was the one who mentioned Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. It was such an emotional moment; I felt so guilty that it had gone on so long, so I cut dairy out of our daily routine straight away, and it quickly improved his symptoms.
Q. There is so much information online; most of the time, it can seem scary to parents who are new to allergies. When Oakley was diagnosed, where was your go-to place for finding information about CMPA?
My go-to place was Facebook CMPA groups; they were very helpful in the early stages! It was great to have other mums to talk to who were in the same position as me. I also used the Instagram CMPA hashtag, and there are lots of parents sharing their experiences and recipes, which I found very helpful.
Q. Research suggests that breastfeeding/pumping mothers of babies with allergies have to be cautious of their own diet. How did this affect your diet, decisions and routine?
I found this the most challenging of all. Adjusting my diet overnight was difficult at first. It takes a while to research what dairy-free foods are available. There are many more options out there, especially with vegan diets becoming popular. I think the key in my case has been organising and trying to plan family meals that we can enjoy together. When this is not possible, mamamade meals have been a fantastic option for Oakley and has taken a tremendous amount of pressure off me.
Q. Now that Oakley is eight months old, how does CMPA affect your family's day-to-day life?
CMPA still affects our daily life a lot. Oakley refuses prescription formula and is very fussy on the breast. This has meant I've fallen into the difficult situation of expressing four times a day to provide Oakley with the milk he needs.
Q. What would be your top tips and tricks for our community of Mamamates who have CMPA babies and toddlers?
My top tip would be to be organised, especially if you're weaning. Meal planning and batch cooking helps too, and stocking up on Mamamade meals when home cooking just isn't possible.
Q. How did you first come across Mamamade? And what's your favourite aspect of our brand?
I came across Mamamade on Instagram hashtags from another CMPA parent! I welled up when I found a mealtime option for Oakley that would potentially make my current situation a little easier.
How does Mamamade fit into your schedule as a family?
So easily, whenever we aren't organised for mealtimes, they come in very handy, especially on the go when allergy options are limited and usually more expensive!
Q. Which three Mamamade meals or snacks are CMPA mum approved and little Oakley's favourites?
Oakley loves the Mamamade meals; he is a very independent eater! So, the finger food options are his favourite. He ate all of the Lentil Veggie Bites in one sitting. We love all the pancakes! The Spinach Oat Pancakes, Banana Oat Pancakes, and the Mango Oat Pancakes are great any time of the day and also as a snack when on the go.
Lastly, he really enjoys the Cauliflower Carrot and Cumin meal, and because this is a drier recipe, he’s still able to feed himself. We will attempt making the porridge into a flapjack, so I'll keep you updated on how we get on with that.
Q. And last but not least, What is one of the most important pieces of advice you would give to parents who are currently affected by CMPA?
My most important piece of advice would be to listen to your mothering instincts, especially if you feel you are facing CMPA in the early days and weeks, and to push for support from professionals.
Also, If you have a hard time with CMPA, try to take one day as it comes.
With our journey, especially with exclusively expressing it's been daunting at times; I try to remind myself that it’s not forever and that before long, Oakley will be weaned off my milk and potentially have outgrown his allergies.
Thank you for supporting our CMPA journey and letting us be part of the Mamamade community.
Thank you so much, Mia, for taking the time to answer all our questions! We're so pleased to share Oakley's CMPA journey with our community of modern-day parents 🙌🏼 If you want some more information about CMPA click here to read our blog “Cow's Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA): Signs & Symptoms”, “CMPA (Cow's Milk Protein Allergy) Q&A - Here's What You Wanted To Know!” and “Cow’s Milk Alternatives - What Plant-Based Milks You Can Offer Your 1-year-old”
We’re here to support parents, which is why you can rest easy, knowing each of our recipes has been carefully crafted by nutritionists and prepared by hand by our team of talented chefs - then frozen fresh to lock in valuable nutrients. With 40+ diverse meals available, there's something for everyone - including babies suffering from allergies. We know how difficult it can be when a little one has an allergy, which is why all of our meals are naturally free from the big-8 allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soya).
Mia was the first mama to share her story, and it's been so informative! I'm sure that this blog would help so many parents who are in the same boat.
If you've got a story to tell, please comment below or send us a message on the Mamamade Instagram page 🌈