22 answers

Milk Allergy, Acid Reflux or WHAT???

I daughter is 6 1/2 weeks old and is having issues with feeding.
Spitting up - a lot now that on Nutramigen, before it was occasional.
Diarrhea - for a week, as of today (Was constipated until switching to Nutramigen)
Sounding congested - Dr. says it's not a cold (worse on milk-based formula, but doesn't clear up on Nutramigen)
Coughing/Gagging/Choking - Dr. says it's a milk allergy or acid reflux (prescribed Axid for acid reflux and on Nutramigen(hypoallerginic formula)
Stomach ache - Did not get better on Nutramigen.
Pumping legs to her chest - Did not get better on Nutramigen.
CRYING - the pain cry!!!
I took her to the doctor a week ago because she had been congested for a couple of weeks, but had recently started coughing and gagging (choking). **She had been constipated for about a week (juice nor karo syrup was making her go), was told to give her a 1/4 teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia and it worked after a few hours.** The doctor said that she didn't have a cold and that she thought it was a milk allergy and put her on Nutramigen. Instantly gave her Diarrhea and she has had it for a week. Her spitting up has increased also. I was fed up with her being sick, so I tried her on her previous formula. She slept well, didn't spit up, no dirty diapers...BUT...she started to get more congested, coughing and choking! WHAT DO I DO NOW? PLEASE GIVE SOME ADVICE!!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

This is definately not over, but we are getting a few answers. Went to the pedi last night, they did a stool test and there was no blood in her stool, which I was told is a good sign it isn't a milk allergy that is causing her problems. And...Nutramigen is HYPOALLERGENIC so why would she be having adverse reactions to it, quote her pedi. Which makes since! She has two ear infections, the one in the left is worse and it wasn't infected last week...it only had a little fluid in it. She had to have a spinal tap done to check for meningitis (sp?), blood drawn to check for anything else abnormal and a shot of antibiotics. We have to go back in today for another shot and to check on her. RSV was - again, so that is good. I just want my baby to get better. Dr. said that if she threw up today she wants to send her for an upper GI (has to drink barium), to check for intestinal blockages that would be causing her food not to go down properly and to make her throw up at every feeding. I hope we don't have to go that route, because if there is a blockage...that means surgery...and I am scared to death to put my little girl through that. We are off of the Nutramigen and back on Similac Sensitive and she told me to put rice cereal in her bottle to help keep the formula down. I hope it works! O and they put her on Prevacid and took her off of the Axid. She also was giving Levsin drops for colic (it helps a little). Still don't know what is going on exactly with her belly...so we are still playing the waiting game.
Thank you all for your comments, they have all be SO helpful. This is a great site...Thank you Angela B! LOVE YOU GIRL!

No meningitis, nothing wrong with her blood work. So we are just praying she keeps her feeds down so we don't have to do the upper GI. I hope this all works itself out...really soon! So MD is thinking it is Acid reflux, ear infections and congestion in her nose. Again thank you all for your comments and advice!

UPDATE 1-27-09
She is doing a lot better, every bottle with cereal is the trick for the momment. Back on the milk-based formula, on a nebulizer for the congestion, it is getting a little better...still hanging out though. She is still on all of her meds. We have to mix her zantac with a teaspoon of juice to get her to take it, but she gets it all down that way.
Definately see an improvement...can't wait till she is better. She is sleeping a little better at night. She goes down at 9pm - wakes up around 12 (eats, change diaper) and goes back down around 12:30 and gets up around 3:30-4 (eats and change diaper) and goes back down until around 6 - 6:30. So I guess that's not too bad.

Thank you all for your input...everything has been so helpful!

Featured Answers

Good luck with all the testing! I hope she feels better soon. I have a son who has horrible acid reflux. He is 7 months and things aren't getting much better with solids and he is on medicine! I know it can be frusterating! Good luck!

Hi J.... My baby did all this same stuff and the dr changed his formula to goodstart soy and he done wonderful. Other than he had colic really bad. I hope they can get it fugred out soon. There is nothing worse than having a crying baby and not know what to do to help. You might want to try gripw water. I bought mine at Walgreens and it helps with tummy ache, gas, even settling the tummy so they don't spit up as much.

More Answers

Hi J.... My baby did all this same stuff and the dr changed his formula to goodstart soy and he done wonderful. Other than he had colic really bad. I hope they can get it fugred out soon. There is nothing worse than having a crying baby and not know what to do to help. You might want to try gripw water. I bought mine at Walgreens and it helps with tummy ache, gas, even settling the tummy so they don't spit up as much.

My 15 year old son was lactose-intolerant until he was 13 months old and is 6 ft tall, 170 pounds, but when he was a newborn, every evening he would cry and I would cry. Doc never would say for certain that he was lactose intolerant, but a dear co-worker of my husband had a baby one month older than ours and she advised us to try LactoFree, same company that makes Nutramigen. 24 hours later we had a new baby. We didn't like using the soys because they gave him gas and much more spitting up(and the soy spitup smelled MUCH worse than LactoFree) I was nursing at the time too, and if I consumed ANY dairy, we were back to him screaming all evening, so if you are nursing too, cut out all dairy, even ice cream, unless it is the lactose free milk that you can buy.

Good luck with all the testing! I hope she feels better soon. I have a son who has horrible acid reflux. He is 7 months and things aren't getting much better with solids and he is on medicine! I know it can be frusterating! Good luck!

Hi J.
I am happy to see that you have recieved alot of wonderful advice from the group. My 8 month old son has bad allergies as well and we went through a tough time getting it all figured out. The women from this group were also very supportive to me and I found the advice to be extremely helpful.

The names of your babies are absolutly beautiful.

Your situation sounds similar to my expereince however each baby is different and you will know how to forge forward at each step. It sounds like allergies & acid reflux. The formulas will be tricky dependng on the specific allergy. My son is allergic to dairy, soy & eggs. He did not do well with the Nutrimegen formula but did very well on the Similac Alimentum. There are also 2 other formulas that are for more extreme allergies called Neocate & Elecare. Both of these need to be ordered through a pharmacy.

My little one did better on the Alimentum but did not sleep until we started the Prevacid for the reflux so it was a 2 part issue. Also when he gets constipated I mix his formula with Pediasure instead of water and it clears the constipation up immediately. Although if a specific formula is causing constipation it is probably not the best formula for your baby.

I have also continued to breastfeed but had to use formula until I figured out the specific things that were making my baby sick. now that I have, I mainly breastfeed but supplement with formula if he shows any symptoms, if I get a cold or if I need to give him pediasure for constipation (from the bananas).

Hang in there, it gets easier. feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk you through this. I have spent many sleepless nights figuring this out so if I can help in any way please feel free to contact me.

There are also these neat tummy heating pads for colic that might help. I tried hot water bottle and warm wash cloths that were helpful.

Once she starts solid foods the refulx calms right down. This doesnt go on forever, things will get better soon.
I dont know where you are located but if you are in the Williamson county, TN area I have a wonderful pediatrician that has been a wonderful help to me.

kind regards


My son is 17 months old and I have breastfed him since birth and going until he is 2 years old. Anyway, breastfed babies receive something called bifidus bacteria that coats their stomachs. This has many benefits that remove the things you mentioned such as diarrhea and all the symptoms of GERD.

It took me a minute to locate, but I think this might help your little one. There is a new formula created by Nestle with bifidus added to the formula. It is the first of its kind. Let your doctor know you would like to try this out on your baby. See below for the link.


Also, here is a website talking about it....scroll down once the page pulls up.


Hope this helps....

Hi J.,

If she's not spitting up from the old formula and it's milk based, she doesn't have a milk allergy. However, milk does cause mucous if there is not a proper balance of enzymes in the stomach to digest it. That's common at this age that's why it is best to breast feed when they are so young. The breast milk is basically already broken down to be digested. (I'm not scolding you by any means, I myself HAD to suppliment because I didn't have enough milk. I'm just giving you information that a lot of doctors don't take the time to explain to young moms.)

You could try goat milk as that usually doesn't give babies any problems or put her on a digestive aid that should help her digest the milk. I can recommend one if you're interested.

God bless and sleep well!


P.S. Karo syrup has been known to be fatal in infants that can't digest the botulism spores that it might possible contain. Prune juice is the safest for little ones :)

They make a baby probiotic and sell it at Whole Foods. My friend gives it to her 4 month old colicky baby pretty much since birth.And that was colic on breast milk. The GMO corn syrup is worse than you know for your baby.It is a synthetic, not natural. Corn syrup does not occur in nature. Your baby isn't too young to take it in some sweet non- fluorinated water. Also, my friend used goat based formula or maybe even goat milk for her highly allergic miserable child. A doctor might want to try soy, but I wouldn't.. All soy formula is genetically modified. Here is some info below.
"Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are the result of laboratory processes which artificially insert foreign genes into the DNA of food crops or animals. Those genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. GMOs are not safe, but have been in the food supply since 1996. Most Americans say they would not eat GMOs if labeled, but the U.S. does not requirelabeling.."


2 of my kids had milk allergies (one outgrew it, one didn't) as infants, and we had the WORST time finding a formula. They were sensitive to soy as well. I used Alimentum. I guess if I were you, I'd try a bunch of different ones until you find one that doesn't constipate the poor thing! I'd give each a week or two to see how she handles them. Some spitting up is totally normal, but if she's spitting up everything, that's bad. Milk allergy definitely causes congestion, but is she getting some eczema or flushed cheeks or anything?

My daughter without milk allergy got horribly constipated, too, but not until I started her on veggies.

Good luck! I know how frustrating that is. My first one with milk allergy wasn't diagnosed until he was 14 months old! Btw, your kids have BEAUTIFUL names!

Wow. My daughter is having some of those issues, and we believe it to be reflux. The coughing/gagging, pumping legs, spitting up, she has had all of that with reflux. She also has a milk allergy but she broke out. Is it possible the congestion could be like weather related or a bit of a cold or a different allergy? Just a random thought... I also know that just switching formulas can create problems in the dirty diaper department for a few days. Have you tried other things to keep the reflux down to weed those issues out? Ex. rasising the head of her bed a little (towel under mattress); keeping her upright 30 min. after meals; or even thickening formula with rice cereal (check with ped. first of course)? Medication for reflux wont keep the stomach contents from refluxing and choking her or causing her to spit up, it just keeps it from burning and hurting so bad. Hope some of that helps, I hate feeding issues like that it is impossible to think of or deal with anything else until you know your child is getting adequate nutrition!

Dear J., My heart goes out to you and I will pray for you and your baby. I don't remember very much during the time my daughter went through this very same thing due to lack of sleep. My husband and I would take turns holding her through the night because nothing else would stop her crying. Our doctor finally gave her xantac and although she stopped crying so much, the ear infections from the reflux never completely stopped (we finally had to get ear tubes as well). She grew out of it by the time she was 1yr old. Best wishes.

Girl, I have a 4mth old that had similar symptoms at 3-4 wks. For Constipation we started with the Karo and then the Maalox, not M of Mag. We then went to juice in the bottle. I mixed it with Formula. upt to 4-6 oz daily. That relieved that. The spit-up was helped by rice cereal in every bottle but we ended up on Prevacid. My other Child had GERD and so do my husband and I both have it as well. With Reflux (GERD) she will spit up and gag and then swallow. It shouldn't actually come out of her mouth. This has made her have a sound of congestion. I use a suction bulb to suction out her mouth/back of throat. This gets stuff out and sound is gone. It takes a week or two to see results on changing any formula. If she still has issues and you think it is milk allergies give her Soy based (Isomil is what we use) I had to do this with my oldest so I made the switch myself. I later found out that the 5ys old is lactose intolerant...so soy was the right thing. She still drinks it and does quite well. GO WITH YOUR INSTICTS....MOM KNOWS BEST!!!

Did she not do well on a soy based formula? I'd try soy if you havent already. I'd take a look at organic options and see what Whole Foods has to offer. There may be additives in the commercial brands that are upsetting her.

Nutramigen is a corn based formula, she could have corn allergies.

Frankly after reading the ingredients, I'd find something else to feed my baby. I don't believe a corn based diet is good for anyone but cows and chickens.

There are pea-based formulas out there, I am not sure where you can get them. I would contact a Naturopath for help. S/he will be less likely to to throw a commercial solution at your baby's symptoms & more likely to work with you to resolve the core issues.

I wish I had a magic wand, hang in there.


my son went through some of this..he had bad reflux as well..and eventually did grown out of it...we too were on a couple different meds that were suppose to "help: i would def have an upper gi and a barium milk swallow test done on your baby...it will just check to see where the milk is going....the congestion could be from aspiration...(that is when it comes back up..some can go in the lungs...this can cause your baby to get sick....my son had several of these done..they just drink a little milk..taht they add a little white paste to so they can track where it goes...if you have any more questions feel free to email me at ____@____.com oh also in worst case scenario they can do a fundoplication...that is where they tighten the espogaues )sp:??? but that is usually only if risk of severe aspiration on baby not gaining...i would def recommend a gi specialist


I know your pain. I have a granddaughter who was born at 29 weeks weighing 1 pound 7 oz. She's doing great now. She's 19 months old. Weighs 16.4 pounds.

She too was like your Tallen Sky. It's horrible to see her in such pain. She was put on PRILOSEC not PEPsid (sorry) at a very young age. 2 mos I believe. She is still on it. She still has reflux, but it's "silent" since she doesn't show signs of it outwardly. She sporatically has projectile vomiting and as a result has to go to the hospital to be hydrated. They have increased her dosage to once in the morning and once at night, and this has helped a lot.

She is in a Special Care Program at Duke and Wake Med here in the Raleigh area.

I can tell you my story and maybe you can find some helpful info or take some of the things my doctors did and ask your doctor about them. My daugther, now 5!, was born with horrible reflux. Her pediatrician also suspected milk protein allergy and put us on the Enfamil Nutramigen/Similac Alimentum (SO EXPENSIVE!!!! And after 5 years, I STILL remember that horrible smell!!!) Well, the formula did nothing to help her. At 14 days old, she was sent for an upper GI, which showed us how severe her reflux actually was. Her formula would make one little lap around her stomach and then shoot right back out. Her little esophagus was totally raw, which caused her great pain when she would spit up. So, they sent us to a gastroenerologist at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. She looked at all of my daughters tests and studied the journal we kept of when she ate, how much she ate, how much she spit up (an estimate of course) and when and how long she "slept". My baby didn't sleep...she'd literally take like 13 minute naps before she would start screaming again. She first determined that she did not have a milk protein allergy and immediately removed her from the Nutramigen/Alimentum. She put her on plain old Carnation Good Starts. No bells & whistles....as plain and basic as you can buy. She then had us thicken her formula with 1 tablespoon of rice cereal per ounce of formula. It was practically so thick, you could spoon feed it. We had to make the holes in the nipples a bit bigger so that she could suck it out because she was only like 3 weeks old. This didn't solve our spit up issues, but it cut it down significantly. She put her on Reglan, Prilosec, and Zantac. We continued these meds until she was 4mths old. By that time, when she'd spit up, she wouldn't even make a peep...she'd grin. So, we knew her esophagus was healed. The dr. at Vanderbilt told us that the reflux would peak at 6mths of age and then gradually go away as she started more and more solid foods. She was exactly right. We started spoon feeding at 4mths old and after that...it was smooth sailing. I feel your pain and I know it's so confusing and so hard to see your baby in pain. Don't be afraid to bother the heck out of your doctor.......we did! Keep a journal to take to the office next time. Write down everything. Feeding times, amounts, guess the amount that is spit back up and what time it happens after the bottle. Note all naps. This will give your doctor something to go by. Ask about the Carnation Good Starts, or just go with your gut and try it yourself. Remember that it takes a good 2 weeks for any old formula to completely leave your baby's system. I hope it works for your little one! Good luck to you!

My son, now 4 months, has milk allergy and acid reflux also (as exhibited by blood in both stool and spit up). We put him on Nutramigen and both he and I HATED it. Besides being nasty and not dissolving in water, he didn't do any better on it. So I switched him to Similac's Alimentum and he did better. He still was uncomfortable and did the pumping legs thing a few times a day. But the spitting up only got better after getting Zantac for the reflux. I also found that I absolutely had to burp him after every ounce or so or he just would be miserably gassy for hours and hours. He still seems to be in a lot of pain if I don't religiously burp him after every feeding. Good luck and don't be afraid to pester your doctor again if you don't see any improvements...that's what they are there for!!

Have you taken her to an ear nose and throat doctor? i would definitely recommend that. Also, check into taking her to a genetics center. i never knew that was an option and no one brought it to my attention. As a result, i didnt know until my son was almost 4yrs old that he has Down Syndrome. He had a lot of the same symptoms. i'm not saying thats what your daughter has, but it could help give you an answer.

J., it sounds like your little one is giving you all the red flags of reflux. Keep in close contact with your MD and communicate all of the problems she is having - even if it is daily. If it is reflux, it can be painful and cause her to have a feeding aversion. Ask if you can get a referral to a speech pathologist who can assist you in the feeding process with some therapy. It can help with all your questions and keep close tabs on her feeding skills. I, myself, am a speech pathologist, and work with little ones just as you are describing. Follow your instinct.

My daughter, who is now 6, had a lot of the same issues. We did the Nutramigen too and it had a lot of the same side effects on her. We finally figured out the problem was that she was lactose intolerant when she was about 11 months old. It might be worth it for you to buy a small can of the Lactose Free formula and give it a try. Hope it works for you.

Hi J.,
I am so sorry for your frustration. I have been there myself. My son was breastfed until he was 4 mos old, and honestly, the symptoms were WORSE when breastfed than when he drank formula (we later discovered a bad egg allergy). The colic almost drove us insane and the doctor could do nothing to help at the time. The reflux will get better on its own over time. You can try buying one of those wedges that elevates the baby's upper body while sleeping. This helps some. I also found that my son spit up less and had generally better stools on the ready to use formula. You can try soy, but if it is an allergy, then there is a chance that she will also be allergic to soy as well. I would also try several different hypo-allergic formulas until you find the right one. Nutramigen is good, but not the only one on the market. Good luck!


I would take your child to Dr. Freeman (a GI doctor at UNC) and ask if perhaps your son had EGID (Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease). Tell her that someone from the local EGID group sent you. Dr. Freeman has seen other children with the disorder and I think she would be a good place to start. I take my son to a GI specialist at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center. His name is Dr. Phil Putnam. You could also call them. It would take a while to get an appointment (months) but if you can find a way to get there I think it would be worth it. EGID is considered a chronic, but not fatal, disorder. There are treatments that can help.

Please know that I am NOT diagnosing your son with EGID. However, some of what you are describing sound like the classic signs of this disorder. Not all GI docs (and very few pediatricians) will even know to look for EGID. My son has the disease, and we went through you are free to contact me personally if you would like. I lead a support group for families in the Triangle living with the disorder. In fact, we are having a meeting tonight. If you'd like to email me personally for details, please do.

Finally, for more information about EGID, go to www.APFED.org. There is a phone number, too, so you might be able to talk to someone. Once again, you are also free to contact me.

I'm sorry you and your baby are suffering like this.


Hi J.,

These sound like a variety of symptons. I was doing a little research for you, but hard to pinpoint. Look at this site. http://www.parents.com/baby/health/cold/decoding-babys-co...
Castor Oil used to be the cure all, but... I would not give her te Nutramigen if it seems to be causing these quick side effects. I take it you must not have been able to nurse? That would be the best most healthy. Perhaps the emergency room, or a walk in pediatric office may give you more insight. All doctors are different and spot things differently. Prayers to you.

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