If my baby is allergic to milk...

If my baby is allergic to milk...

Drinking milk is the most natural thing a child can do. But what do you do if your little one is allergic to milk? Read more to find out what parents should do here.

chinese baby drinking milkLittle Sophie is drinking from a bottle but she's not drinking milk like all the other kids. Her doctor has restrained her from drinking cow milk as she is allergic to it.

Milk provides a convenient source of fat, protein, calcium, and vitamin D for growing bodies. But what would you do if your baby is allergic to cow's milk?

Your child’s pediatrician should partner with you in making nutrition recommendations. The goal of this post is to simply discuss options for parents.


In babies, if the milk allergy affects their respiratory system, they may have chronic nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, cough, wheezing, or difficulty in breathing.

The allergy also can cause eczema, hives, swelling, itching, or a rash around the mouth and on the chin due to contact with milk.

If you suspect your baby has an allergy to milk, tell your pediatrician, and be sure to mention whether there’s a family history of allergy. Take your child to the doctor’s office or emergency room immediately when you observe any of the above symptoms.


Breastfeeding a baby is the best way to prevent a cow's milk allergy from developing in a newborn, particularly if anyone in your immediate family is allergy-prone.

Research has shown that breastfeeding for at least four months can prevent or delay the development of allergies to cow’s milk.


For babies

If your breastfed infant develops a cow's milk allergy, your pediatrician may recommend that you follow a cow's milk-free diet yourself. You may have to take an extra calcium supplement in addition to the prenatal vitamin that you are already taking.

Formula fed babies with milk allergy should be given alternatives like soy formula or elemental formula, according to your pediatrician’s guidelines.

For infants over one year old

Your pediatrician can use appropriate medications to treat a reaction to cow's milk. Most children eventually will outgrow the allergy by ages two to five years; this allergy seldom lasts until adolescence.

A young child over the age of one year who has a milk allergy will need to avoid cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and any food that contains milk. She will need a milk substitute. Be sure to tell all of your child’s caregivers of your child’s milk allergy.

Milk alternatives

Here’s our pick of the best alternatives to cow's milk.  As these are not nutritional replacements for cow’s milk, they need to be supplemented with vitamins and minerals.  By far replacing breast milk or infant formula should be avoided for children 0-12 months.

The following plant-based milks are good alternatives to cow milk.

Soya milk
It is the most commonly available alternative milk. Packed with protein and fibre, benefits of soya milk include minimal saturated fat. It’s also safe for the lactose intolerant. Soy milk has about the same amount of protein as cow’s milk and some iron, but little calcium unless fortified. Always go for the organic version.

Almond milk
The most nutritious based on the health benefits. Almond milk is also a good source of unsaturated fat, protein, flavonoids and potassium, and has less sugar than soya milk.

Coconut milk
Coconut milk is a very creamy, dairy-free alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to animal milk. It has minimal starch content. A vegan drink, it is also soya-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free and nut-free while its fat content is considered to be good. However, it offers little else.

Rice milk

It is processed from brown rice is a low fat, low protein, and lactose-free option. Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all the milk substitutes and is extremely nutritious. But it is low on protein compared to cow’s milk and soya, and the calcium content is also minimal, so choose the fortified product instead.

Hemp milk
Well tolerated by children with soy, dairy, or tree-nut allergies, this milk is also cholesterol and lactose free, low in saturated fats and rich in healthy omega fatty acids. It is a good source of natural protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamin E. Like other plant milks though, it lacks calcium and isn’t widely available.

Oat milk
Like many plant milks, oat milk is cholesterol and lactose free, and contains folic acid. It is high in sugar and doesn’t have the calcium and protein content of cow’s milk.

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