At around 5 months of age my daughter Jenah started to get an angry red teething rash on her cheeks which lasted for a few months. At around 6 months of age she started to get the occasional patch of what looks like eczema on her arms, legs and feet. There does appear to be a connection between the two as babies who get eczema do seem to be more prone to suffering from dribble rash. I have observed this in other babies as well as my own. Prior to the age of 6 months when she was exclusively breastfed, she had no issues with her skin.
I took a very cautious approach to introducing solids to Jenah as I was concerned that she may be sensitive to some foods. This is because in my family we have a history of atopic conditions such as asthma and eczema as well as Celiac Disease and other auto immune conditions. In addition Jenah was born by emergency caesarean so I was aware that her immune system would be compromised by this (by missing vaginal flora) and the introduction of solids is a time when skin issues can typically manifest in babies.
I am so grateful that now at 14 months, it has been over 2 months since Jenah has had any angry red eczema type patches occur. Her skin has been beautifully clear, glowing and strong.
My approach to introducing solids has been to go slow and cautious, starting with easy to digest foods and over time trying more harder to digest foods. I wasn’t in any rush to have her eating the same foods that we as adults eat.
As per general recommendations by the Ministry of Health, we started slowly introducing one new food every 4 days to have the time to check for any reactions. I am very glad I did this as she had noticeable reactions to potato, egg, dairy and strawberries. They were mostly skin reactions but we did also notice runny green stools which was very unusual for her so definitely a sign. I took these foods out of her diet for a further two months and re challenged them to see if there had been any change as her digestive system had matured over that time. Dairy and egg still seem to be problematic so we will keep these out for a bit longer.
Jenah’s diet for the first month consisted of a variety of vegetables (except potato), avocado, fish and pureed meat (chicken, lamb or beef) cooked in nourishing meat stock. After the first month we started to introduced fruits starting with pears and bananas.
Meat stock is extremely nourishing and is full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and gelatin in bio available forms that are easy to absorb. Meat stock aids digestion, heals and seals the gut lining and has been known for centuries as a healing folk remedy for the digestive system. The nourishment comes from the bone marrow, cartilage and other connective tissue.
As a key food in the GAPS nutritional protocol I was keen to encourage her to eat meat stock regularly from the start. So I made up regular batches of meat stock made from the meat and bones from chicken, lamb and beef and would use the stock to cook her meat and vegetables before blending it all together into a puree. I would freeze any excess stock in to ice cube trays so I just needed to grab a couple and add these to her dinners. As her meals moved from pureed to mashed and mince, I still used the stock as a base. Jenah loves the added flavour of the meat stock and eats it most days.
How to make meat stock:
All you need is some meat with bones to make a good meat stock plus a large pot of water and salt and pepper. You can very use beef, lamb, pork or chicken.
For lamb, pork or beef – put the joints, bones and meat in a large pot. Add 5 – 10 peppercorns and salt to taste and fill up the pot with water.
Heat until it boils, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to the minimum and simmer for at least 3 hours. The longer you cook the meat on the bones the more they will give out to the stock and the more nourishing the stock will be.
For chicken – put a whole or half a chicken in a large pot. Fill it up with water, add salt and heat until it boils. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours. Take the chicken out the put and put the stock through a sieve.
Some of the other important parts of Jenah’s skin health journey have been:
No gluten – with a family history of Celiac Disease I have no plans to introduce gluten at least for the first few years.
No dairy – I tried to introduce butter when Jenah was about 10 months however her face flared up straight away so I took dairy off the menu again. I tried again last week when she was 14 months by giving her some grated cheese and her neck flared up so I know dairy is still a no go.
Gluten free grains from 10 months – this was to give her more finger food options. I introduced rice flour, corn, organic rice rusks and quinoa. She has been able to tolerate all of these.
Fermented vegetables from 11 months – I started very gradually with ¼ a teaspoon a day of sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and now it is one of her favourite foods and she gets so excited when I get the jar of sauerkraut out the fridge. Jenah can quite happily eat ½ a cup of sauerkraut a day which is more than anyone else in our house! I try to make my own where possible but when things are too busy, we love the Living Goodness Super Kraut with cabbage, kale and seaweed. I do wish I had introduced sauerkraut earlier, but just didn’t get the time to make it.
Introducing fermented foods was the game changer with her skin. After a few weeks of Jenah eating sauerkraut every day her skin cleared up completely and honestly started to glow.
Fermented vegetables are full of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria which must have been what she needed more than anything, especially after her caesarean delivery which put her gut microbiome at a disadvantage.
Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of `lacto fermentation' in which natural bacteria feed on the naturally occurring sugars and starches in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, making the food easier to digest and creates colonies of beneficial bacteria which is so good for our digestive and immune health.
Sauerkraut is the king of fermented foods! It is so cheap and easy to make as it is just shredded cabbage fermented in salt and caraway seeds for 7 - 14 days. If you are interested in making your own sauerkraut click here for a recipe.
Supportive products and supplements that have also helped Jenah’s skin journey
I took the Metagenics Ultra Flora Mother and Baby probiotic throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding so Jenah would have benefited from this via the placenta and via breast milk.
Once Jenah was on solids I also gave her Metagenics Ultra Flora Baby Care, a probiotic specifically designed for babies. This probiotic powder contains Lactobacillus Rhamnosus LGG the clinically researched strain that is beneficial for eczema. I added the powder to cooled stewed fruit. Now that she is eating mainly finger food, I don’t give the probiotic as often mainly because she is getting plenty of beneficial bacteria from the sauerkraut and my probiotic via breast milk. Please note that Metagenics are a practitioner only brand so can only be ordered via a registered practitioner. If you are interested in ordering any of these probiotics, please contact me. Metagenics also have a retail brand called Ethical Nutrients that have similar products.
Weleda White Mallow Face Cream - I applied this wonderful cream to her face 3 times a day after a nappy change and this really helped with her angry red dribble/teething rash which was at its worst when Jenah was around 6 months. Keeping her skin moisturiser was also important as it strengthened the skin, creating a protective barrier, which helped when she started commando crawling as she would pull herself around on her arms irritating the skin. I mainly used the Weleda Calendula baby moisturising lotion as well as olive oil.
I am so grateful that Jenah skin is now so clear and beautiful and I hope that we can continue this way by continuing to support her gut microbiome, encouraging her to eat nourishing whole foods and being vigilant with introducing new foods or inflammatory foods. We will still continue to test dairy and eggs every few months and hopefully one day she will be able to tolerate these.