We’ve been given the go-ahead to try a whole series of hitherto untested foods on Sid, with his allergist suspecting that we are where we are now with his allergies – i.e. we’ve pretty much established what he is allergic to and the hope is there will be no new ones lurking (fingers crossed).
Melon, kiwi and mango all passed uneventfully (we’d held off the tropical fruits because of his old banana allergy) and coconut was next. The protocol for a home-conducted taste challenge is pretty much the same for any food:
Day 1 – a dab of coconut on the face
Day 2 – a dab on the inside lip
Day 3 – 1/4 of a teaspoon
Day 4 – 1/2 a teaspoon
Day 5 – a teaspoon
Day 6 – 2 teaspoons
Day 7 – a tablespoon
and so on, doubling the dose until you reach the appropriate amount in one sitting for your child’s age.
So it seemed pretty simple – crack open a can of coconut milk and get going. Seven days passed, no reactions, and Sidney would happily munch down his allocation before porridge every morning, the coconut milk fresh – if solidified – from the fridge.
On we went, just to make doubly sure (previously, we’d got as far as a tablespoon of wheat before he reacted so I wanted to err on the side of caution), to two tablespoons at breakfast. A little niggle in my head vaguely mused “that seems an awful lot of solid coconut fat to be chomping down, not sure I’d fancy it…” but he seemed delighted to have his morning treat. Next day: four tablespoons at 9am (“this’ll seal it,” I thought, “after this we can be sure he’s OK with it”).
Two hours later we had friends freshly arrived for lunch and I was upstairs faffing when Sidney started calling plaintively for ‘Mummy’. It’s not unusual, especially since his little sister was born, for Sid to be on a Mummy-only tip so I thought nothing of it and carried on twiddling with my hair. Next minute, the poor thing went clammy, turned white as a sheet, and threw up twice all over the kitchen floor. Without over-sharing, the reaction continued later in the day from the other end.
So we were left with a condundrum – allergy or not allergy? And, as with everything allergy, the answer is never straightforward. We have no experience of delayed allergic reactions, Sid’s having previously manifested themselves as fast-appearing hives. But when I got on to his doctor, he agreed that, yes, it was possible that his vomiting could be a delayed response. On the flipside, it could also be a perfectly normal reaction to being forced to eat half a cup of solid coconut grease in one sitting before breakfast. The only way to know for sure was to hold off for a week and try the whole process again.
To cut a long story short, this we did, but this time I switched the coconut milk for desiccated coconut and mixed it with a little plain yoghurt. And – woo! – we passed without drama.
Turns out his little tummy had just responded, quite understandably and violently, to being ladled full of fat. Next time, I shall consider the way I dole out his home challenges a little more carefully. Mustard’s up soon. Now where’s the tablespoon and the Colman’s..?