[129] "I am an early childhood nurse …" (November 2001)

Our dear Rosie was born August 2000. She is our second child, so we expected that she would be a tad easier than her brother. Alas, our Rosie had many new tricks in store. For the first 4 months or so she was 'OK', I just called her 'highly strung', and 'a hormonal girl'.

By 5 months she was really quite miserable, irritable, constantly grizzling and wanting to be held (except of course when we went out anywhere, where she played the cute, smiley happy babe).  Sometimes she seemed to be in pain, and we gave panadol with some relief for only a short time. We tried the reflux, colic, etc avenues, with no improvement. My husband was very understanding and supportive, as he lived with unhappiness, and my Mum saw the other side of her, but most of my friends didn't understand our problem, as she really was a 'street angel and home devil'.

Her sleep was poor by day, but strangely, she rested reasonably overnight, some nights only waking once or twice, and generally able to resettle quite well. I think she was so exhausted after her strung out days. For the bad nights she mostly slept in our bed, where we could all get some sleep.

I am an early childhood nurse, and had great support from my two wonderful colleagues, one saw her in a really sad state when visiting us at home. We had tried me off all dairy products at 5½ months, as Rosie was fully breastfed. That seemed to improve things a bit, but I still felt that babies should be happy, unless they had good reason not to be. Finding the reason was the trick. We also tried a naturopath, who felt she could help with a range of herbal remedies, which we started on.

Then I read your article called "Restless Babies", in the Nursing Mothers Magazine. I felt the article was about us!! It was the start of a big change in our lives. We saw our local dietitian who gave us the booklets from RPAH, and discussed it. As I was breastfeeding, and she was on some solids, Rosie and I started the elimination diet when she was 7 long months old.

My very supportive husband was quite sceptical, she was such a beautiful fat healthy looking babe, how could it be diet related?? Anyway after only 3 full days on the diet, he was very apologetic for his scepticism. Our little girl was significantly happier, and so were we.

Each day seemed to get better, she now seemed able to relax her body at times, and was able to play alone for very short periods. I found sticking to the diet quite easy, as the improvement in Rosie was well worth it. Eating was a great source of pleasure for Rosie, so the diet did not worry her at all. The added bonus for me was that those extra 'hard to shed' kgs fell off me. That gave me a needed confidence boost as well.

We had a bad experience early on. Rosie was pretty miserable with a cold, so we gave her some panadol drops and put some Vicks rub on a tissue under the sheet as we put her to bed. An hour later she woke and was 'high'. She tried to get back to sleep, but her body was so restless and I hate to think what her head felt like. I took her to our bed and held her to try to control her body for her. She finally fell off to sleep after about 4 hours.

Rosie is now 14 months old. I weaned her at 10 months, as I began to crave some tasty food. I was too scared to do any challenges, so we were on the very basics. Rosie continues the elimination diet, and still loves her food. We finally tried some challenges, wheat is OK in very small doses. Salicylates were a disaster, (pumpkin twice a day for 2 days and a granny smith apple core), she became irritable, clingy, whingy etc, then vomited, with no associated illness. We will try them again one day to be sure. We are trying amines at present, just banana to start with, OK so far.

I feel this experience has been wonderful for me professionally, and my colleagues too. I also recently heard that our dietitian who helped me with the diet (who has since moved) has tried the diet to get a feel for what she was prescribing, and has seen changes in her family she was not expecting. I have also had chats and given some of your info to our child psychologist who has quite an interest in ADHD. I will keep pushing the cause, I worry about all these behaviour problems, and see that some could be so easily sorted with food.

So thank you so much Sue, I hate to think where our family would be without your big input. I am converted. My husband is too, but he is a little nervous about how I will go when our children start school and I have some input into the tuckshop! Many, many thanks again from all our family. - Cath, by email