Switching from formula to Oatly Barista (dairy free milk)

For us, it’s not been easy.

But the story doesn’t begin there.

Since Clara’s last bout of D&V which ended her in hospital for a day early March, her stools have never quite recovered. Her dirty nappies are looser resulting in 1-2 outfit changes a day. Uncomfortable for her, exhausting for us. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re driving, or not near accessible changing facilities, trying to stop a small child putting their hands in poo (before putting them anywhere near their mouth) is bloody hard work. And that’s before completely stripping child off in the back of the car (thank god for Land Rover’s having decent sized flat back seats and a tailgate for warmer weather changes), removing soiled clothes without getting it all down her legs and between her toes, or elsewhere in the car.

Usually, after a bout of diarrhea and/or vomiting, a person should avoid lactose as it’ll continue to irritate the gut lining. As Clara is dairy free anyway, we just carried on as we were once she was back to her ‘not great’ version of normal.

Only a few days ago did I even think to query why we were still giving her the prescription formula that has the number 1 ingredient as MILK. It was the formula Clara had been moved to after her bout of Rotavirus mid-late last year, so I had assumed it was okay. It also says suitable for milk intolerance sufferers as its hydrolysed, ie the milk protein is broken down so it’s easier to digest. But it still contains lactose. And I actually think Clara has an ongoing lactose intolerance (rare, I know), not a d&v related one.

So, I contacted her dietitian and suggested that perhaps the formula wasn’t quite right for her after all as her stools had never improved.

Together, we agreed that as Clara was now 15 months old we could wean her off formula altogether and try her on an alternative milk source: Oatly Barista.

Oatly is brand that makes oat based drinks that are alternative to milk. The Barista range, also called Foam-able, has higher calories than the standard range so it’s more suitable for young toddlers whose peers are drinking full fat milk.

We’ve used Oatly before (not the Barista range), offering Clara small beakers of it here and there, or using it to make pancakes or add to cooking. She’s always seemed to tolerate it okay so I was excited to make this change. It meant no more prepping formula, carrying flasks of boiled water, waiting for bottles to cool down before she could drink them etc.

We gave Clara her Aptamil Pepti formula as usual with her breakfast before going to the supermarket to buy Oatly Barista. We then swapped her mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and early evening bottle for the new drink.

Safe to say it didn’t go well. From mid afternoon until a few moments ago, Clara’s had a number of dirty nappies that have all been considerably looser than before. Three outfit changes in one afternoon. Other nappy changes, just about contained.

I wanted to give it time to settle. She’d had a (dairy free) korma curry the night before – could it have been the seasoning in that? Could it be the fact that she had a bagel for breakfast and a (tuna) tortilla wrap with her lunch – too much gluten perhaps? Formula is gluten free but Oat milk isn’t so I started thinking down that route.

It wasn’t until I was telling one of my closest friends that the Oatly Barista was causing these dirty nappies and I showed her the ingredients that I really focused on the third ingredient – rapeseed oil. Another close friend pointed out this has to be high in % given it’s third on the list and it’s marketed as ‘foamable’ (ie the extra fats/oils help it to foam, making it a drink suitable for baristas to use – hence the name).

It’s this. I’m confident it’s this. Gluten testing is something else to test another time, but I know Clara suffers with fat malabsorption. There’s absolutely no way I’d give her something with that % of oil in to eat, let alone pan fry any home made food in it. I’ve already proven this months ago – it literally goes straight through her taking all the good food she’s eaten in the last 24 hours with her.

I’ve stopped the Oatly Barista and resorted back to her prescription formula tonight in the hope it settles her tummy. We’ll continue with this until I can speak to her dietitian Monday and come up with plan B – something that’ll give her the calorie content she needs without resorting to oil.

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