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Mom’s Perspective: A Gluten-Free Diet In Baby’s First Year To Reduce Risk Of Type 1 Diabetes

(Alternate tittle:  “Bring out yer bread!”)

Now that the little bird is the big O-N-E, we have completed one year as parents.  And one year doing the gluten-free diet with our baby.  This was important to me because I felt strongly about the ties between the early introduction of gluten and type 1 diabetes diagnoses. And after doing some research and discussing this as a family, Chris and I decided to keep our BSparl gluten-free for her first year.

It was pretty easy, to be honest, keeping a little baby off gluten.  (Especially since she doesn’t have celiac, so our decision was elective instead of required.) The ease came mostly from the fact that BSparl breastfed for almost six months, and didn’t start on solid foods until just after she turned six months old.  All breastmilk and/or formula made for a pretty streamlined food schedule for that first half year.  When we introduced solid foods into her diet, we went with organic rice cereal and formula first, then mushed up fruits and assorted other mushed up items (like avocado and shredded chicken breast) mixed with food pouches like these from Ella’s Kitchen. Her diet was pretty mushy for a good long time, since it took about 8 months for her first tooth to bust through.

Once she had some teeth, feeding her was a little easier (if easier = messier), and our options opened up a bit. However, we needed to be vigilant about reading food labels and doing the “Oooh, wait!” to relatives before they’d give the baby a snack.  For the last four months or so, BSparl has been chomping on gluten-free crackers, pasta, and puffs, plenty of fresh fruit like mango, papaya, and bananas, chicken, and avocado.  (She also had her first gluten-free cupcake on her birthday, complete with a messy little fondant bird).  She’s drinking happily from her sippy cup, and today she tasted her first popsicle.  (Highly entertaining, watching her little face get all confused by the cold and then elated with the taste.)

Gluten free bird-day cupcake.
Enjoying her birthday cupcake last week.

But she’s still gluten-free, at the moment.  I haven’t made the leap to wheat yet, and I’m not even sure how, or when, I should do it.  My research kept talking about “the first year” over and over again, but now that we’ve clocked in our twelve months, are we supposed to dip her in a pile of mini wheats and see what happens?  When are we supposed to start bringing gluten into her diet, and how do we do it?  All at once?  Bit by bit?  And is it normal that I’m nervous, and very apprehensive to make this change because I’m being inundated by The Thought?

If anyone has any information on expanding our daughter’s diet to include gluten, I would really, really appreciate it.  I have an appointment with our pediatrician next week, and I am also combing research journals, but I’m mostly clueless.  Has anyone in the DOC done the gluten-free route with their child and then added gluten in after the 12 month mark? I would really appreciate any links to research, anecdotal evidence, or anything.  I’ve never done this before and I’m confused.  (Big shock, right?)

Thanks, you guys.  As always, your input helps me make the most educated decisions I can.

(It is important to note that I am not a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a person with any semblance of a medical degree.  What I am is a person who has been living with type 1 diabetes a long time, with a daughter who I worry may have inherited my immune system.  I’m an informed patient who is looking for more information.  So if there is research pointing towards a gluten and type 1 connection, you can bet your ass I’m going to avoid gluten for the first year, as advised.  It’s not like I forbade hugs for a year.  Just Cheerios.  ;) )

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*


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One Response to “Mom’s Perspective: A Gluten-Free Diet In Baby’s First Year To Reduce Risk Of Type 1 Diabetes”

  1. Leslie Lombardy says:

    Just wondering what you ended up doing. My 9 month old son so far has been exposed to no grain. Today at his pediatricians appointment, he suggested I start feeding him any and all table food and suggested that if I don’t fed my little guy wheat until he is 2, that he may develop an intolerance. He said after 2 I could eliminate whatever I choose to. Just curious what you decided and how that worked for you.

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