Dairy free delights for kids

Sisters Cheryl Ryder, 33 and Gillian McDonald, 31, from Ayrshire in Scotland launched Dribble Delights to tackle the lack of dairy free children’s food on the market.

Dribble Delights food intolerance

by Colleen Reid, Mindful Mum, 23rd January 2012

Dribble Delights, set to launch this year, is a range of dairy-free, child approved products for the growing population of babies and young children who suffer from an intolerance to dairy.

The sisters’ inspiration for the food range came from Cheryl’s three young children, all of whom have an intolerance to dairy. Falling into a trap of feeding her children foods she knew were ‘safe’ foods, Cheryl felt her children’s diet lacked variety and excitement. The obvious rut of safe foods only become more obvious as each child came along. She knew she had to make a change for the future of her children.

Cheryl says, “It didn’t get any easier for me as each child came along and the signs were there that they were dairy intolerant. It wasn’t until my sister stepped in to help that it got better. She has that amazing ability of stepping into a kitchen, flinging a few things together and making an amazing meal! She started to make loads of yummy food that my kids loved! The best was when she made a character princess birthday cake for my daughter’s 4th birthday. Sophie was ecstatic and so was I!”

So the sisters combined forces and brought with them all of the skills they had from their previous roles as web designer and marketer (Cheryl) and International banking and HR (Gillian). As the baker, Gillian cooks up a storm in the kitchen before putting it to the very particular panel of Cheryl’s little ones, Sophie, 4, Craig, 2 and Callum, 1.

Cheryl explains, “They are the harshest critics and if they don’t like the food they are pretty vocal about making sure we know about it!”
Craig, Gillian and Sophie enjoying dairy free cupcakes

The first intolerance

As a mother of three dairy intolerant children, life hasn’t been the easiest for Cheryl and husband Sean. When they had their first daughter, they had no idea of the intolerance and had to learn the long and hard way before finally getting a diagnosis from the emergency ward at the hospital, an experience they aren’t ever likely to forget.

Cheryl remembers, “With Sophie our intolerance journey involved several trips to the doctors at three different surgeries and three different health visitors and ended with a trip to the emergency hospital to be told quite calmly by the doctor there that Sophie had a dairy intolerance. It had got to the extreme stages of Sophie vomiting continuously for a whole weekend, lethargic, no appetite, and to top things all off her nappies turned grey with, what we later learned, little red specks which we were told was parts of her stomach lining.”

After leaving the hospital, the family cut out dairy and the change was almost immediate. Her nappies returned to normal and for the first time since birth, she started to have more solid nappies at nine months. On some occassions, Sophie would go through 4 to 5 complete outfit changes because of her runny nappies, something her parents thought was normal after seeking medical advice on many occassions with her symptoms.

When her boys came along, she was very clued up to the signs and symptoms of the intolerance and self diagnosed Craig at five months and Callum at three months after noticing the same change in their nappies that Sophie had. After switching the boys to soya milk, the symptoms reversed completely.

In the early days of the intolerance with Sophie, Cheryl admits she received no support what so ever from medical professionals. She explains, “I learnt what I know of dairy intolerance through the internet and from the support of my friends and family. I had to learn to listen and watch more with regards to food and notice and signs or effects it was having on all the children.

“I’ve had several talks with our latest health visitor and dieticians and the last doctor I went to see about the latest skin flare up with Craig just simply said that they’ll grow out of it by age 7 or so. Well…great…what do I do until then?”

The stress and worry of living with dairy intolerant children is always in the back of Cheryl’s mind, especially when they are at school, parties or friends houses where there is temptations of ‘bad foods’ everywhere but the little ones are taking it in their stride with Sophie now at the age where she can help her little brothers with what they can and can’t eat.

Although at the very early stages, the plans for Dribble Delights are ambitious and the sisters hope they can help other families who worry about the nutrition, variety and good taste of dairy free foods for their children.

Funding to bring products to families

Dribble Delights is crowdfunded business. Crowdfunding is a new way of looking at getting essential funds for your company while offering ‘rewards’ or ‘incentives’ for people to make a promise of funds. There are two ways to Crowdfund, through Venture Capitalists, where people get a share of equity of your company in exchange for funds or Bloom VC (Venture Catalyst) where a company retains equity but offer rewards for promises.

Cheryl and Gillian opted for Bloom VC with Dribble Delights, they explain, “We need to raise these funds to help for a variety of reasons. We want to engage with our target audience and we’re offering rewards for people to engage with our tasting panels. This is essential research for us and will help us decide what products to launch first.

Gillian cooking up a Dribble Delights treat“We’re also offering rewards of actually naming up to five limited editions of our Dribble Nibble snacks,
and for this we want to reach out and interact with our consumers. We are a company born out of
frustration at the lack of foods for children that need to be dairy free and we want our consumers to
feel ownership of Dribble Delights and to have an active role in making available what they want to
see on supermarkets shelves.”

The experiences, emotions and changes Cheryl’s family have gone through with their three children is what makes Dribble Delights different from other dairy free food companies. With no dedicated complete range of dairy free main meals and snacks aimed exclusively at children ages one to five, Dribble Delights is set for great success in the future with the help and input of its target audience.

For other parents thinking of launching a new business, Cheryl advises, “Go for it! You have to grab the opportunity and just do it! It is the best thing that you can do and it will be everything you make it to be. But seriously, plan for everything, it will help in the long-term. Try and get yourself a mentor or a group of people that you can turn to too get good sound advice. Surround yourself with positive people who will help you take the company forward in the direction you want.”

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