31 answers

Breast Fed Baby Allergic to Dairy Products

Well, after a long seven months of not knowing why my son wouldn't gain weight like he should, and being a very coliky baby.. we have finally figured out that he is allergic to dairy products.. so I am having to go off of all dairy myself since he is mostly breast-fed. By questions is-- how strict do I have to be in my diet? I know that milk, cheese, yogurt, etc is out.. but do I have to avoid baked goods that have milk in them or ranch dressing, things like that? Anyone out that that has done this-- please let me know- I happen to love dairy products so this isn't going to be easy but I will do anything to have his little tummy feel better!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well I and he have been off all dairy for two weeks now- and it is like we have a whole new baby. He is happy, crawling, pulling himself up, and the spitting up has almost stopped completely!!! Thank you for all of the input! It is still hard to find meals for myself that don't include dairy, but it has helped me shed the last few pounds of the baby weight and I plan on staying 100% dairy free for at least another week and then start experimenting with what he can and cannot handle. Thanks again!

Featured Answers

There's a yahoo group called foodlab (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/foodlab/). I heard they're the place to go when dealing with allergies in a little one, giving sound advice and recipes, etc. Many moms on there are breastfeeding mothers altering their diets for their breastfed babies. I'm not a member, but I know many of the foodlab moms through another yahoo group, and they are very supportive! HTH

Oh, and congratulations for breastfeeding! :)

With my son, I could have anthing cooked or baked, because it altered the chemical makeup and, therefore, wasn't something he would react to. I switched to almond milk, almond cheese, etc... It's really good, and they carry a lot of it at Sprouts. Safeway even has the milk. I also had to be careful about the proteins, though, as they are found in a lot of places you wouldn't expect them!

I had the same problem w/ 2 of my 3 babies. I found that eliminating everything w/ dairy was neccessary at first. It seems like everything has milk in it. After a few weeks though I was able to add back in foods that contained dairy as an ingredient as long as it didn't over do it. My 7 mo. old now will tolerate small quantities of dairy. A slice of cheese or small glass a milk a day and she does ok. My advice would be to eliminate it all and then try a bit at a time. Good luck!

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Mangosteen Juice helped my sons very much. I can give you recommendations on good brands to try if you want. Just an ounce or two a day does wonders with allergies. My oldest was able to use goat's milk and buffalo yogurt even though he couldn't have cow's milk products. It's not common that it works that way, but it is a good solution if it works. He had no problem switching to cow's milk when he outgrew the allergy. I understand what you're going through. I hope he outgrows his allergies!

1 mom found this helpful

Looks like you've got alot of good advice. I have a 7 month old daughter with a milk protein allergy and have been off all dairy for 4 months. some babies are different, so its hard to say if everything will bother him. i would suggest getting off of it for about 6 weeks to totally clear the protein from your system if you want to continue breastfeeding. in addition to avoiding obvious dairy products as well as casein, you'll need to avoid whey products and those containing lactoglobulin. its amazing what they'll put that stuff in. some canned tunas even have casein in them! also, watch for soy products, as there can be a crossover allergy with a milk allergy. once you eliminate dairy, you'll be able to tell if that bothers him or not. good luck. its not the easiest, but its certainly not impossible.

I would have to say avoid all dairy at first. Usually with milk protein intolerance (I am assuming this rather than a lactose allergy?) Breastfed babies will do better than formula fed babies simply because mothers milk is made for them, but if he is not gaining and have a sour tummy, maybe his allergy is a bit more severe. Definately get on a supplement (are you still taking prenatals?) and talk to the ped about getting poly vi sol for the baby.
If you go a few months with no dairy and he is doing well, just reintroduce things one at a time to you diet. Maybe start with things like yo-baby yogurt as these are made to be a little more sensitive. Make sure to eat a lot of green veggies as they provide a lot of the vit d you are not getting from the dairy.
If all else fails, you could supplement him with Neocate, or possibly Nutramigem/ Alimentum.
Make sure to have a complete allergy panel done at age one before you start any "real" foods.
Good luck J., allergic babies can be very stressful, but once you learn to "go with the flow" it will all start to fall into place:)

I am currently dealing with this! My 5mo ds has this problem. We realized at about 1 1/2m that something wasn't right; lots of spit-up, seemed like diarrhea, very gassy, and only slept 20 minutes at a time and only if you held him-very differrent than our first. After doing research I decided to eliminate dairy and about 5days later we had a different baby. It took two weeks for him to be all better though. No products that contain casein or variations, whey, milk solids, caramel, etc. Take it all out for a few weeks to clear both of your systems of it, then try one thing at a time. It is really hard at first and I have lost a lot of weight (not that I'm complaining) but it is worth it. Chocolate and cheese are my weakness but if you allow yourself something else that isn't necessarily healthy for you it will be easier (like dairy free potato chips-regular lays or pringles- check the labels!) Graham crackers, oreos, Smart Balance light for a buttery spread (regular and margarine both have dairy), if you can do soy ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla rice milk is okay, just discovered vanilla silk (soy milk) and it reminds me of ice cream, hershey's chocolate syrup. We also found he can't do eggs so I find vegan recipes make great substitutes for baked goods. Betty Crocker has a great recipe for "chocolate snack cake" that doesn't have dairy. Add a calcium supplement and whatever you use as a milk substitute needs to be fortified (soy, rice milk etc and orange juice). Look at www.kellymom.com it has great resources. If you need ideas for food or a list of hidden dairy, email me. HTH. BTW it really has helped, my son is about 5mo now and weighs 21 pounds!

Both my kids were like that as well. I had to eliminate EVERYTHING that had any sort of dairy in it. The nice thing is, there is lactose free milk, so you can cook with it and drink it to still get the calcium. Actually, there is lactose free cheese and yogurt too, so maybe you could try having those things and see if they bother your son. I feel your pain b/c I love dairy products as well. I didn't know about the lactose free cheese and yogurt at the time, so I ended up stopping the nursing with both of my girls after awhile b/c it was soo hard for me. I wish you luck!

This happened to me!! Don't worry too much. I only cut out direct dairy, not baked goods, etc. I switched to non-dairy creamer for the coffee and soy milk at home (for cereal) and just tried to avoid the rest. Having a piece of pizza now and then or some other treat with dairy on it didn't affect my daughter too much since she wasn't getting a regular dose of it anymore. And the good news - at 11 months we slowly introduced her directly to dairy, starting with yogurt then cheese. Now at 13 months she is drinking whole milk without any problems. So they do indeed grow out of it. Keep up the good work!

I determined that my son was allergic to dairy products when he was seven months old. He kept getting ear infections, over and over. The doc said the last time Well if this doesn't work, we'll have to look at his diet. I said He's completely breast fed! and he responded, Well then we have to look at your diet....I have had a reaction to dairy products but had started eating more because I thought it would be good for the breast milk. Wrong! Anyway, to answer your question--you'll need to do a COMPLETE elimination, which means yes, no baked goods, etc, for one month. After that, try adding some baked goods, ie a muffin, or whatever, and watch your little one for a reaction. One thing that helped me--I determined I had a MILK PROTEIN allergy, not lactose intolerance, so I (we) can get away with goats milk cheeses and sheeps milk cheeses. Look for them at Trader Joe's, best prices and selection. Good luck-it's hard but not impossible! Also, Sunflower market sells soy yogurt (Silk) that is good...once you get far enough away from the cow's milk type. Good Luck!

I went througgh the same thing, my six week old was having bloody stools...you need to be really careful...check the back of all boxed products looking for caseain and whey, they are milk derivitives (SP?) Don't get frustrated is my other advice. SEarch the web, there are a lot of websites, with recepies that you can try. I was doing well for about 5 months, unfortunatley I got sick and my milk dried up, them we used non dairy formula which is expensive! Good luck! C.

My kids have had and do have milk allergies. I wish a Dr. would have suggested me to avoid dairy while nursing. Nobody wanted to hold them because the would hurl all the time. So much good info here. I just want to add that Kraft Ranch WITH Bacon does not actually contain milk, Tofutti Cuties are an amazing milk-free ice cream sandwich (available at many health food stores as well as Fry's) and Pearl unsweetened soymilk can be used in cereal and cooking without much of a negative flavor (I won't tell you it tastes just like cow's milk, but it is quite tolerable compared to other brands). We are all cheering you on!

There's a yahoo group called foodlab (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/foodlab/). I heard they're the place to go when dealing with allergies in a little one, giving sound advice and recipes, etc. Many moms on there are breastfeeding mothers altering their diets for their breastfed babies. I'm not a member, but I know many of the foodlab moms through another yahoo group, and they are very supportive! HTH

Oh, and congratulations for breastfeeding! :)

My boy is also allergic, but I actually think it's getting better. I have stayed away from ALL dairy and soy(he's also allergic to that) even in baked or cooked foods. Plus, I was/am trying to lose weight, so it's just easier not to eat chocolate cake, brownies, etc. because my son's allergic to dairy. However, I have heard from other moms who said they could have dairy in baked goods. I guess it depends on how your child reacts.
I'm proud of you for continuing to breastfeed. It is such a great thing to do when it's possible.
Good luck.

With my son, I could have anthing cooked or baked, because it altered the chemical makeup and, therefore, wasn't something he would react to. I switched to almond milk, almond cheese, etc... It's really good, and they carry a lot of it at Sprouts. Safeway even has the milk. I also had to be careful about the proteins, though, as they are found in a lot of places you wouldn't expect them!

I lived like that for 7 months!!! If he is truly allergic to milk, as my daughter is, then you cannot have anything with milk or milk protiens in it. Including, lastose, casin, and whey. After a while you will find lots of things to eat. Sprouts is a great place to shop for non-dairy foods. Make sure to take a calcium supplement or eat lots of soy products. If you need some mental support feel free to e-mail me and I'll send you my #. It's easier to give idea ect. over the phone. Congratulations for no giving up on nursing. It will be worth it for your little one. Please feel free to contact me. Have a great day.

PS- there are alot of hidden milk products...for example, Chick-fil-a gives there chicken a "milk wash" before frying it. So it is a great idea to ask before you consume anything.


Food intolerances and allergies can be dose related. How strict you need to be depends on how sensitive your baby is and how important it is to you. My son is highly allergic to soy protein (breaks out into hives, screams for days) and intolerant to dairy proteins (green, slimy poop, screams for days). I've had to be very, very strict in my diet. I've basically been completely dairy and soy free since last December (that is when I started, and it was hard to get started so I'd say I've been really, really dairy and soy free since January with few slip ups since then - there is definitely a learning curve). I avoid all obvious and all hidden dairy and soy. In general, dairy isn't all that hard to avoid but soy is in everything! If your son has been really ill and not gaining weight, I'd recommend that you avoid all dairy, even the hidden stuff (and ranch dressing!) for at least 6 weeks (it takes 3-4 weeks for the dairy proteins to totally leave your system and then 1-2 additional weeks for them to totally leave your baby's system after they are out of yours). Once you know your system and his system are both "clean" and you are willing to risk making him sick, you can then start experimenting with how much dairy is too much for him. Keep in mind that lots of stage 3 baby foods have dairy in them so you are going to have to read the labels on everything he eats. A total elimination diet is kind of a pain but not that big of a deal. I finally just had to come to grips with the fact that I don't want to eat anything badly enough to make my son sick. And that was basically what I was doing when I wasn't following a strict elimination diet. I love dairy products too. But after a month or so, I really quit missing them so much. At this point, they really don't even look all that appealing to me. I have to say that figuring out what you can eat is just as hard or harder than figuring out what you can't eat. If you want a list of what I eat, feel free to email me directly. ____@____.com I can promise you I'm not starving, I get a good variety of foods. And as a bonus, I've lost more than 20 pounds and my cholesterol went from around 290 (high cholesterol runs in my family) to 204. My son is right at 13 months now and he's healthy, happy, funny. Definitely not the screaming mess he was a year ago. And he's definitely still allergic to soy. I haven't gotten brave enough to test dairy again. My husband accidentally tested out the soy thing by giving him hotdogs with soy in them. Yep, still gives him hives. Just as a side note, many babies who don't tolerate dairy protein also don't tolerate soy protein because the proteins are really similar. If your son isn't dramatically better within a couple of weeks of a total dairy elimination, seriously consider eliminating soy from your diet.


Hi J.,

I had this happen with my first baby. I breast fed her for a year before she weaned herself. I had to go off dairy at 3 months. I truly didnt realize how many things contain dairy. This was 6 years ago so nothing is fresh in my brain... But I went online and looked into lactose free recipes and message boards. The biggest hurdle for me was giving up milk based sweets. I found apples and peanutbutter to be my life saving treat. I know you have the strength to do this for your baby. Its amazing the things we can do for them. Best of luck.
:) J.

Good advice below. My son was allergic too as a baby (soy too) and I ended up losing so much weight cutting out everything I normally ate that we had to switch him to formula relunctantly because neither of us was getting adequate nutrition. Unfortunately the only formula he could tolerate was Neocate which is prescription only and extremely expensive. So...try your best to find foods that will keep you very well fed and nourished so you don't have to deal with this. It's really hard so you may want to join a support group. Try www.foodallergy.org for info, or sign up to volunteer for a volunteer walk-a-thon and meet people in your area that way.

Also, think ahead for birthday treats so you aren't caught off guard when you get invited later on and your little one can't eat cake etc. I was always playing catch up, so it will be less stressful if you can have your dairy free cupcakes and cookies recipe ready to go!! Time flies!! Try http://www.godairyfree.org/Table/Food-to-Eat/Shopping-List/ for a great shopping list for you.

Also, just for future reference, we thought my son (now 4) had outgrown his milk protein allergy at age 3 so we started slowly reintroducing foods with melted cheese/cooked protein to start. He didn't seem to do well with this after a while, so we had him tested officially. The RAST test and skin tests came back negative for milk allergy. BUT, when he eats real yoghurt, he still gets a rash on his cheek just like when he was a baby, followed by diarrhea + irritability. hmmmm... Don't be in a hurry to reintroduce. If allergy is severe now, I wouldn't try reintroducing at age one. If allergy is more of a sensitivity, then maybe. Check with Drs though.

What you want to avoid is anything with casein or a variation of it like sodium caseinate, etc. It is tricky, this is in a LOT of prepared foods. Also anything listing milk, whey, milk solids, and things that say "protein enriched" without specifying what kind of protein, it is often casein. Even things marked "non-dairy" (like cool whip) often contain casein.

When I went through this with my daughter (and, it is not easy at all), I cut out *everything* with dairy. It wasn't until she was about 14 months that she was able to handle it.

There are a lot of good websites out there about eating dairy free. Some of the soy subs out there (like soy sour cream) are decent but some of them just don't taste good (like the soy milk). I used almond milk in cereal and in my tea, and I just had to get used to the fact that I was going to live without cheese--cheese is one of the worst offenders, it is higher in casein by percentage than anything else.

My 2 year old cannot drink milk so she gets soy milk for the calcium. However she had no problem breastfeeding for 10 months. She also can have cheese, yogurt and ice cream with no problem. The reason is is because the enzymes in these products are different than pasteurized milk. Has your baby actually been diagnosed with a milk allergy? My baby wasn't actually diagnosed. The doctor abd I pretty much came to that agreement since she would always vomit after having regular milk and doesn't with soy milk. Ask your doctor how serious the problem is. Maybe it is time for you to start on formula and call it quits on the nursing......tough decision. Good Luck

This is very difficult, and there's no easy way to say it but avoid as much dairy as possible. The more you avoid the better, and happier you baby will be. There are many alternatives out there, soy and rice milks, ice creams, breads and baked goods. If your son is only allergic to dairy, your not in too bad of shape, you'll be able to notice a change in your babies stools as you remove dairy from your diet and be the judge of how much you want to sneak in your diet. But nursing is such a short time in life and after your done you can have dairy again, but he may never be able to so getting a heads up on what is available, dairy-free products, can't hurt.

Also my daughter has dairy allergies, that was the first we found out of, then soy, egg, nuts, fish... the more natural the product the better, and try to avoid the main allergens until your sure he's not allergic, it'll save you a lot of heart ache and greif. I hope this helped. Good luck.

Hi J.,
The good news is that at least now you have an answer. My daughter was severly allergic to all dairy products from until she turned 1yr old and then luckily she outgrew her allergy. Now at 2yrs old she has been eating dairy for a year and shows no reaction. They thought she had colic and acid reflux, but then at 2mo old she started have bloody stools--really frightening since sometimes there was more blood than stool. I was exclusively breastfeeding her and it took us over a month to decide that it was just dairy she was allergic to. We waited until 6mo to start solids and then did not introduce any type of dairy until 1yr.

Every baby is different for some you can just cut out the obvious dairy sources and it will be enough. Realize that it will take anywhere from a few days to a week or two for the dairy to get out of your system. For my daughter I had to cut out everything with any trace of dairy in it---to do this you have to read all labels really, really carefully since dairy products are hidden in many processed foods. (things you'd never guess had any dairy in them, like many luncheon meat etc) There are many websites that you can find that will tell you the chemical names to look for on all labels...google dairy allergy & milk allergy. If you find that you have to go to this extreme like I did, it really limits your choices for food, but I found that it was worth it. But believe me, I love dairy and didn't initially think I could do it. But it was worth it to have my daughter feel better and not have to go on special formula--which she hated (she had to be on it for 2 weeks because she was showing no improvement, it took quite awhile to get all the dairy out of my system and to realize that I had to look for hidden sources too).
I hope this helps you...I hope for you that your son is one of the lucky ones that will outgrow his allergy.

Hi J.,
I had the same thing happen with me and my daughter. For a period of about 1 year, I couldn't have any dairy because she was sensitive to it, and she was exclusively breastfed. I just tried my hardest to avoid it all together, but when the occasional dairy slipped in (say at a restaurant or something), she would have a reaction sometimes, but sometimes not, and there was no rhyme or reason to it that I could figure out. So, I am sorry I can't be of more help in that department. She was fine after about a year, but then about 6 months ago, she started having reactions again,so she no longer consumes dairy now (she will soon be 4 years old). But, something I can offer is that you should NOT use soy products as a substitue for dairy. Soy is even worse for you than dairy, and is linked to the majority of common allergies we now have in our country. I can provide you with more information on this off board if you are interested, just send me a private message.

I too had a baby allergic to most wheat & dairy products - now he's nine and after a long road of eliminating and rotating diets, he's almost better, but still has to be careful. The stomach suffers and of course moods have everything to do with how we feel (he was hard to be with). Be as strict as you wish for him to be healthy! There are substitues such as coconut milk, almond milk dairy free everything these days! As he grows older you will need to teach him self regulating, so it's a good thing for you to learn so you can help him with empathy. What I found along the way was to find foods and supplements that were anti-inflammatory (that's what wheat & dairy do to us) and Omega 3, 6, & 9's are so helpful in that realm. Fish oils for children with a strawberry taste are easy to swallow...be sure to check with your doctor when you can start with him...but do it in your body immediately!

My son was colicky for about 3 1/2 months, and I had to remove dairy and caffeine from my diet (and I live for dairy as well!). I did not drink milk or eat cheese or yogurt, but I didn't worry about baked goods that had a little bit of milk or egg in them. No caffeine and no chocolate. I also used those drops for babies before and after I breastfed. I used them the maximum amount they allowed (something like a dozen times a day) for months, and that helped. The pediatrician office said that was OK.

I would reccommend avoiding all sources of dairy. I have a child with multiple food allergies since birth. The more exposure the more sensitzed to the substance they become and thus can increase the allergic response. You can substitute dairy with rice and soy products. Kosher food are safe. Read all labels carefully as some products listed as non dairy or vegan still may contain casinate which is a milk protein. I would also start a food log in case baby starts reacting to other things in your breast milk.

I had the same situation. I have to be incredibly strict with my son. Even a small bite of cheese and he vomits all the breast milk up and gets soooo sick. Just a precaution, he is also allergic to soy, so I gave that up. I guess that is pretty common. I know this is all overwhelming but it was worth it to give all dairy and soy up to keep my son healthy and still be able to exclusivly breast feed him. Within 7 days my son stopped throwing up and the crying stopped. I use Rice milk and Rice cheese, it is at Wild Oats. I use the milk in my cooking (mashed potatoes, hamburger helper...) and my family barly notices. Good luck and let me know if you need anything, and also check ALL labels you would be amazed what has dairy in it, I have found that anything that has less than 5% dairy he tolerates. Take care, M.

I have two friends with children who are allergic to milk. When they were still breastfeeding I know they cut out ALL dairy, so I think you should start with that, It's probably best for your baby. I know it must be very hard, good luck.

L. Boland

You ahould try cutting everything out and slowly reintroduce a product. You will know what you can eat and can't by how fussy your baby is. This to shall pass.
C. B.

First things first - is it a milk allergy (milk protein) or a Lactose problem? My 19mo old son is allergic, and to figure out which one, we tried to give him lactose free milk. Turns out he is allergic to the milk protein. Depending on how severe of an allergy your son has depends on what you can and can't eat. My son used to tolerate yoghurt ok, and he can eat products cooked with milk, and we can put butter in his food (real butter not margarine). Unfortunately it's a trial and error thing. If your son can tolerate soy - I would definitely supplement for the nutritional benefit (calcium). (My son is also allergic to soy). You also might want to talk to your doctor and see if they recommend supplementing your calcium intake while breastfeeding.

Good luck - it's not fun and can be fustrating at times.

I had the same problem w/ 2 of my 3 babies. I found that eliminating everything w/ dairy was neccessary at first. It seems like everything has milk in it. After a few weeks though I was able to add back in foods that contained dairy as an ingredient as long as it didn't over do it. My 7 mo. old now will tolerate small quantities of dairy. A slice of cheese or small glass a milk a day and she does ok. My advice would be to eliminate it all and then try a bit at a time. Good luck!

I had the same issue. Fortunately I realized this on my own after about 2 months and was able to change my diet. I just had to stay aware for the obvious dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, or things that were made strictly with dairy such as sauces) but other things that had dairy in it I was able to have in little bits and it had no affect on my daughter. When I finally went to formula I had to go to Similac Alimentum. Unfortunately it is very expensive but she was fine on it. She is now 6 years old and has no dairy allergy. She drinks milk like it is going out of style and has since she was a year old. It is something you have to try different things on. Just because they have an intollerance right now does not mean that they a dairy allergy. Typically they won't test a child until about the age of 3 because they bodies change so much. Good luck. I remember those times.

Same happened with my son and I didn't eat dairy for a year. But, every baby is different. I didn't have to avoid small amounts of dairy like in baked goods or dressing but I would eliminate everything first and then once he is feeling better, begin adding those little things like butter and dressing and see how he does. Chances are, that will be fine. Then, every couple of months, you can try a little more dairy and see if he;s ok with it. My son has no problem with dairy now - he's 19 months old. Chance are good that your son will outgrown this sensitivity. Good luck, M.

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