Being a parent comes with a long list of concerns, as does having celiac disease. Combine the two, and you’ve birthed a whole set of challenges that most people never have to think about. As a new mom, introducing wheat into my baby’s diet—and into my gluten-free life—has been one of my biggest adjustments yet.
Introducing gluten: the good, the bad, and the messy.
If you’re like me and your home is 99% gluten-free (okay, your husband is allowed that box of crackers from time to time, as long as he is careful), introducing gluten into your home regularly makes you want to throw on a hazmat suit. Never mind the fact that the tiny person eating the wheat has a tendency to smear, throw, and mush it into every surface he can get his grubby little hands on. If gluten-detecting black lights existed, his high chair and the surrounding area would light up like a Christmas tree. It’s a cross-contamination nightmare, and the offender is just too tiny to have a clue.
Missing the milk life
There are so many challenges here: Are these crumbs on the countertop from when you poured his cereal this morning, or from your gluten-free toast? He just put his hand in your mouth—did you really clean out every crevice of those chubby little fingers? Sharing drinks and utensils is off limits. You can’t simply touch his food to your mouth to see if it is the right temperature for him to eat. His cheeks are so kissable, but just minutes before, they were covered in his wheat-based food. He wants to share his snack, but doesn’t understand why Mommy has to say no. Let’s not even get into the heartache of turning down messy kisses!
Why not just make him gluten-free too?
From pregnancy, my friends and family asked whether or not my baby would be gluten-free. I hope not! I would reply. I know that it is important to expose your child to wheat and other allergens at some point in infancy [link research on this topic], and would rather put myself at risk than my child. His pediatrician will also be testing him for celiac at nine months old, and part of the accuracy of the test relies on him eating wheat. Thankfully, most baby food is naturally gluten-free, aside from what I introduce to him for exposure purposes. I make sure to stock up on his gluten-free favorites—and on kisses after he eats those.
Being a celiac mom definitely adds more to your [gluten-free] plate, but much like life post-diagnosis, you learn to adjust, and it all becomes second nature. A silver lining? I look forward to seeing my son grow up with compassion, consideration, and understanding for those with food restrictions.
By Michelle Spano, Communications Manager – GIG