24 answers

Milk and Dairy Allergy

My Daughter is 21 months old and we just got told she has a milk and dairy allergy. I have no experience on this type of allergy and would like to know actual things that she can eat. Everything I seen in the store had at least one of the ingredients in it that she is not allowed to have. So I am very confused on knowing what she can actually eat without getting sick. Any help would be appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi G.,
I am now a grandma, but my youngest daughter couldn't digest milk after I weaned her from the breast at 15 months. We tried every kind of soy, etc. and found the only thing that agreed with her was goat's milk. It is not cheap, but it worked. Good luck to you.


Dear G.,

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More Answers

Dear G.,

All the moms are giving great advice. I just wanted to chime in and reassure you that your daughter's allergy may actually be a very good omen for her FUTURE health. There's a wealth of evidence that long-term consumption of dairy products can be a contributing factor to most of the major chronic diseases to which the Western world is prone: cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and so much more. This information gets suppressed because the economic lobbies of the dairy industry are so powerful. Read "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell Ph.D. for all the details.

All the best to you and your family,

S. Ihrig, L.Ac.
Lotus Wellspring Healthcare
456 E. Mission Road, Suite 100
San Marcos, CA 92069

2 moms found this helpful

My kids are both allergic to milk/dairy prod. I have soooo been where you are right now! We use soy products to replace dairy - WESTSOY soymilk is a good healthy brand. Make sure you get the one fortified w/ calcium. (This is on the shelf - not in the fridge section. They have it at Safeway) There are also soy yogurt, soy cheese, etc. Make sure you check ingredients carefully, the words "whey", "cassein" and "sodium casseinate" indicate dairy protein. Many breads/cereals contain milk product so you have to search around to find the one that works and then stick with it. Here is a book I got when I first found out my kids had food allergies : "The Parent's Guide to Food Allergies", by Marianne S. Barber. Lots of helpful info in there! Depending on HOW allergic your daughter is - she may be able to tolerate small amounts of milk ingredient (such as in crackers, etc)? You will have to talk to your allergist about this. I'm sure they told you to use liquid Benadryl in the event of a reaction, right? It does help clear them up right away! Always have that with you. Did the Dr test for other allergies as well? Not to make it sound worse, but often food allergic kids will have more than one type of food allergy so you'd want to know that now instead of learning it later "the hard way". That's all I could think of right now. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or just want to vent about this! You DO need support in the beginning when you feel like "How am I going to handle this?" Like I said I have soooo been there! I wish you all the best - it'll get easier once you have it figured out! :-)J

1 mom found this helpful

My son had that allergy.
No milk, cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt.
Thank goodness for soy milk. Any package with milk as the first ingredient is a no. However, any package with milk at a low amount may be ok, check with your doctor.

Have you tried hemp milk? It has a lot of protein. You could also try almond or rice milk. I'm not a huge fan of too much soy, so I like these other milks more. I would also talk to your pediatrician. -www.weelicious.com

Hey Gina,
You have gotten lots of great suggestions so I will only add that goat's milk would be wonderful, tastes great, and no problems. Also vegenaise instead of mayo is WONDERFUL and much better for you,(tastes better too) and can be ordered on line or is at henry's or whole foods.
I'm glad that you have friends that care for you and support you, you are blessed. It will all be OK. :)
blessings to you and your family,

Most grocery and restaurants, including fast food restaurants, have lists on line that you can access that will tell you which foods that are dairy-free or what allergens are in each food. If they don't, you can probably ask for the list the next time you go into the store or restaurant.

Now, I imagine you have already done the research or your doctor already provided you information about the subject and dairy allergies and have a list of the ingredients "buzz words" that indicate that a product has dairy in it. If not, you can do a Google search and pull up very informative articles about the subject from the webmd or wikipedia websites. Products that I know are dairy-free and my son has enjoyed are:

So Delicious soy or coconut yogurt (some soy yogurts do have casien in them so watch out)

Toffuti sour cream and cheese products

There's a coconut ice cream that is on the market now days that is absolutely awesome.

Almond, Soy, Rice or Hemp Milk

Applegate Farms lunchmeats are casein-free and so are Boarshead but if they are sliced on the same slicer as the cheese, then you have cross-contamination issues.

There's many other products that are dairy-free but I just can't think of them right now. If you e-mail me off-line and tell me what dairy-free foods you need to find, I will give you whatever information that I have. Also, I'm sure that yahoo has some kind of dairy-free or dairy allergy group that you may want to join. It's a good way of information about what is and isn't dairy free and what does and doesn't taste good.

Good luck.

THere is a large variety of non fairy cheeses and maybe talk to your ped. about soy milk and products. Thre is soy ice cream, soy milk flavors(regular, chocolate, and vanilla). aIf she cannot have soy milk, there is almond milk(I do not care for the taste of almond milk,but very healthy). If she has to do soy milk, introduce her to the regular flavor first, because then she may not reject it. The vanilla and chocolate is pretty yummy! Good luck!

Hi G.,

First of all, make sure you and your doctor have the terminology down. Allergies are strictly defined as IgE-mediated reactions to proteins (and some glycoproteins, that is sugar protein complexes). Sensitivity to milk sugar is lactose intolerance. The foods you will need to avoid will depend on which of these your daughter is sensitive to. Some foods with milk sugar added will NOT contain milk protein (i.e. casein) and could be safe to eat if she is allergic, while some foods will have casein but not lactose and can be eaten if she's lactose intolerant.

In general, here's an easy trick: look for foods marked pareve or parve. These are designations for people who keep kosher and indicate that there are no dairy products (protein or sugars) at all in a product. These can be hard to find in a regular supermarket, but can be found in abundance at a kosher supermarket. Sadly, it looks like the only kosher supermarket in Honolulu just closed in October, but they still appear to be running some kind of mail order service (see oahukosher.com). Most health- and natural food stores are also likely to carry a greater amount of nondairy products as they tend to be more allergen-conscious.

Otherwise, stick to fresh fruits and veges and unprocessed foods as much as possible. You may have to resort to doing a lot of your own baking. Margarine can be substituted for butter. Soy milk, rice milk, and Mocha Mix (the only REAL nondairy creamer with no dairy) can be substituted for milk. Mocha Mix gives the best results in things like puddings because it is higher in fat.

As for goat's milk -- be careful with this. Many children who are allergic to cow's milk will cross react with goat's milk. If your daughter is not subject to strong reactions (no hives, edema, vomiting or danger of anaphylaxis) then you can probably safely try out goat's milk on your own. Otherwise, I wouldn't risk it, unless at the doctor's office or within proximity of an ER and an epipen.

As for oral challenge as the gold standard for food allergy (known as DBPCFC or double blind placebo controlled food challenge), that is changing. Food challenges are expensive and can be dangerous, and several studies by key researchers in the allergy field have shown that blood tests for specific IgE have equivalent diagnostic accuracy to food challenges and skin prick testing. See especially those published by Hugh Sampson in the US, (Sampson HA. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001; 107(5):891-6), Sampson HA. Allergy. 2005;60(suppl. 79):19-24), Christina Cobbaert in the Netherlands(Cobbaert CM, et al. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(7):772-81), Marcus Ollert in Germany Ollert M, et al. Clin Chem. 2005 Jul;51(7):1241-9), and Sara Prates in Portugal (Prates S, et al. In vitro methods for specific IgE detection in cow's milk allergy. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2006 Jan-Feb;34(1):27-31). You can download free abstracts of these from pubmed.com, but will otherwise have to pay for the full articles. I helped to write/edit that last three articles, so I might be able to dig up pdf reprints someplace (I might have Hugh's papers, too). I can email these to you if you like, and also a couple of easier to understand review articles I've coauthored.

Adoption of blood tests by US docs is finally gaining greater acceptance (Europe is way ahead of us on this, as they are for adoption of most medical advances), so sadly many kids are still subjected to the 100 yr-old practice of skin prick testing (a great revenue source for allergists, not fun for the kiddies or their parents).

BTW, the good news is that most children diagnosed with a food allergy before the age of 5 are likely to grow out of the allergy. The bad news is that food allergies can mark the beginning of the allergy march, which can progress to inhalant allergies (think molds and seasonal rhinitis) with an endpoint of asthma. However, strict avoidance of diagnosed allergens can short circuit the allergy march and prevent these endpoints.

Oh yes, and stay away from NAET. I'm sure someone has recommended it. It's pure bull-hooey and is based on no scientific methodology or physiological reality. It "diagnoses" "allergy" at a rate that is up to 60 times higher than it's actual prevalence, and then, no surprise "cures" what isn't there in the first place. I've seen some of the studies posted in clinicaltrials.gov. They do not meet CONSORT standards for quality evidence-based medicine methods of research and none has ever been published in an actual peer-reviewed journal. All have been self published, only, with no oversight or opportunity for critique by recognized experts in the field. The reputable journal publication process tries to ensure that studies are well founded and properly interpreted. I'd say that anyone who bypasses this process has something fishy goin on.

Go to aaaai.org for a good source of allergy information.

aloha G. - i'm not sure if you have heard of wildtree (you can read more at www.jenwarr.mywildtree.com ) but it was started by a mom whose family had severe allergies (peanuts and gluten were at the top of their list) among other health issues. she was really struggling with what to feed her family as using many store bought items was literally risking their lives. so she and her mom and dad started making their own blends to make quick and easy but tasty and healthy meals. it evolved into a successful company as everyone loved their food! they are so committed to keeping their food safe for people with allergies - i even have a list of the product ingredients for other allergies. we also have a dairy free butter grapeseed oil. i use it in place of butter for cooking and baking! you can check out all the products at www.jenwarr.mywildtree.com. i offer mamasource discounts too!
take care
J. warr

We were told that our younger son was allergic to dairy a few years ago and we made a number of changes - mainly to goats milk, rice milk, and almond milk. We use Alta Dena goat's cheeses for everything including pizza, quesadillas, etc. We get goat's milk yogurt, sweeten with stevia and add our own organic fruits (you can get them inexpenisve in the freezer sections of most health food stores if the fresh is too pricey). The rice milk cheeses still had casein which you need to avoid.

For his morning pancake we use rice or almond milk and we eat normally for the most part. It truly wasn't that big of a deal, but everyone will ask - where is he getting his calcium? The answer is there are a lot of veggies with calcium and we also bought wild salmon burgers from Trader Joe's and salmon is really high in calcium.

We posted a number of the recipes that our son likes at www.bluedominoes.com.

Best to you.

You didn't say if your daughter is lactose intolerent or will have an anaphylactic reaction if she consumes dairy. There is a HUGE difference. My 11 year-old son, like myself, is lactose intolerent. He knows now that he can have some ice cream or yogurt, but not both in the same day. He can have a small amount of cheese, like a slice of pizza (heaven!) but no ice cream afterward or he will get a stomach ache and have gas the next day. He LOVES milk so we give him lactose free milk. He drinks probably two full glasses every day. This is a much easier life than eliminating all dairy products. Take your daughter to an allergist to make sure before you turn your whole life upside down.
Just this morning on the Today show there was a segment on how food allergies are being overdiagnosed by just skin tests and blood tests. The skin tests are too sensitive and the blood tests react to many things that the people had been consuming without problems for years. I strongly encourage all people with food allergies to go online to the Today website and the New York Times website to check it out. The doctors there said the only way to REALLY determine a food allergy is to eat the food in a controlled environment and observe the reaction. With my son, the stomach aches and gas were enough proof for me because it happened everytime he drank regular milk.
My mom was convinced that organic milk would not cause the same reaction (at the time there was no organic lactose free milk-now there is Nature Valley and Horizon) so everytime she would babysit she would give him regular organic milk and he would wake up the next day with the worst gas and pains. Needless to say she heard it from me! Being lactose intolerent is not very difficult to manage, especially once you figure out how much her body can actually handle. It is much easier than eliminating all dairy, especially if you don't really need to. Check it out. Good luck!

Hi G.,
I have milk/dairy allergies as well. There is milk in a lot of items, so you will have to become an avid label reader and learn all the "code words" for milk products. Some of the typical things you will find milk in are: salad dressing, mayonnaise, chocolate, alfredo sauce, etc.
As for milk substitutes, I have learned to love almond milk. It doesn't taste like milk, but it can be substituted for milk in many recipes and it really does have a nice smooth texture. Also, my doctor told me that there are very few people that have allergies to almonds (less than soy) and the nutrient content is pretty high.

Sorry I don't have the link, but please check out (Google) a most fully knowledgeable person: Linda Coss, from Mission Viejo. She has books and cookbooks and she knows what she's doing.

My son is allergic to the protein in milk. I learned to read labels, and after awhile you just buy the same stuff over and over. It will get easier for you. When he was little he drank soy formula and used that on his cereal for a long time, and now he uses a soy milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamins (from Trader Joes). Not all soy milk is created equal. For bread he usually eats sourdough bread, though you can find wheat that doesn't have dairy. I make scrambled eggs with water instead of milk. He can eat sorbet, but not sherbet (it has dairy). Any fruit, or vegetable is good. You can make mashed potatoes using chicken broth instead of milk. My son can tolerate butter - I don't know why, so he can eat homemade cookies etc. If he eats more than 4 oreos he'll break out due to the whey. He can eat pasta, hot dogs, hamburgers. You can make your own chicken nuggets - use bread crumbs (check so there is no parmesean cheese) and add your own herbs. Coat the chicken with egg, then dip in the bread crumbs and fry. Oatmeal, Cheerios, Life Cereal, grape nut flakes. My son is 16 now, and is doing great - but he never outgrew the allergy. Best of Luck to you and your daughter. If you have any questions let me know. Linda

Hi G.,

My boyz (all three of 'em) had milk/dairy allergies...all outgrew it now...thank God...are able to eat ice-cream and other dairy items; i.e. cheese etc. are now doing much better. It is my hope that your baby girl will outgrow it too, but in the meantime, u might need to shop (for a while at least) at stores that specialize in "whole foods." Henry's, Barron's, Trader Joes, healt food stores like that. Test her for soy and if she's not allergic, try that for her. It's not the milk she needs, it's the calcium and a certain amount of fat that comes from dairy products. Personally, I love soy beans, not the milk...have a hard time wrapping my brain around milk that comes from a bean...LOL! Also, have u tried some of those lactose-free milk products?

My boyz were allergic to everything under the sun, plus they're asthmatic and have ezcema (my oldest and middle son have outgrown it). Our biggest allergen was wheat...WHEAT...can u believe it, everything out there has wheat flour in it. Back in the day, the only way you could get wheat was in wheat bread, now the flour is in everything from cookies, to crackers, to all kinds of bread.

I hope this works out for you...stay encouraged, it can be taxing at time, but hang in there.

My son is also allergic to dairy. Henry's or Whole Foods has a good selection of diary free stuff. I usually buy him bread and soy yogurt there. You can also buy diary free cake mixes and brownies there. The Natures best brand is usually diary free as well. Most grocery stores carry this brand. Also, I know Ralphs/Kroger sometimes carries diary free yogurt. My understanding is most grocery store managers will order what you need if you talk to them. Good luck. It was hard to get use to in the beginning but it gets easier.


My 2 year old is allergic to both dairy and soy so I've got plenty of experience with this type of allergy. LOL

Dairy is actually a lot easier to avoid that soy so what we eat is probably going to be considerably more restricted than what you'll be able to eat.

We eat primarily a "whole" food diet. The closer the foods are to their natural state, the less likely there is something in them that my son can't eat. We eat a lot of meats, rice, potatoes, veggies and fruit. My son loves grilled chicken. He's less enthusiastic but will eat beef, pork, etc...

Whatever we have for dinner tonight gets sent with him for lunch tomorrow (I work full time, he's in an at-home daycare and our daycare provider has been extremely cool about working with us and making sure he doesn't eat the other kids' food.)

For breakfast he typically eats an egg (boiled or scrambled), a sausage (I use the Jimmy Dean precooked links), and some fruit. Sometimes he'll eat a little dry cereal.

For snacks, we eat a lot of fruit but he can also have Ritz crackers, wheat thins, graham crackers or whatever leftovers we have in the fridge.

For dinner, in a typical week we may have spaghetti (I use the Hunts Mushroom sauce - you have to check whatever sauce you use to make sure there is no cheese in it, mixed with cooked hamburger and canned tomatoes), corned beef & cabbage (made in the crock pot, put the beef in, cover it with water, let it cook all day. When I get home I microwave red potatoes until they are done, dump them into the crock pot, chop cabbage and cook that in the microwave for 3-5 minutes and dump that in the crock pot, give it about 15 minutes for the flavors to combine and serve it), sausage (Jennie-O Turkey sausage is dairy and soy free) & bowtie pasta & cabbage, pierogies (Mrs. T's potato & onion ones are dairy and soy free and fairly hard to find) or gnocci (little potato filled pasta pockets, I cover them with spaghetti sauce), grilled chicken (with rice or potatoes and a veggie) or pork chops, you can still make things like tacos - just leave the cheese and sour cream off hers.

Foster Farms chicken nuggets are dairy and soy free (I get them at Fresh and Easy). You can find dairy and soy free hotdogs but you have to read the packages. Oscar Meyer beef hotdogs are dairy and soy free.

Oreos are dairy and soy free.

For the most part, you have to give up premade and prepackaged foods. Once you get used to that idea, it isn't so hard. If you need more ideas, feel free to email me teralee999 at hotmail dot com. I've been dealing with my son's food allergies since birth (he was breastfed so I was dairy and soy free for close to 18 months for him) so I've got quite a bit of experience with it.


Aloha! My baby girl is 17 months old and she drinks Almond milk instead of regular milk. It is really high in protein and is fortified with calcium. It is suppossed to be very healthy and better than soy milk. (Or goat's milk which tastes yuucky!) Another good thing about it is that you buy it in small cartons and do not have to refrigerate it until you open it, so you can buy a lot and just store it in your pantry.

Try soy milk. Can she eat nuts? Ask the doctor. My daughter loves nuts.

i just got this directory in the mail today and it has Hawaii - i'd call up both of these specialists and see if they can be of help:
###-###-#### Francine Kanter
###-###-#### Christina Chang
one is homeopath, another is not, approach may be different and fees too. the earlier you start, the faster you correct what's causing it.
Good Luck

The folks at your friendly neighborhood health food store are very helpful at these types of issues. Health food stores are more expensive, but at least you will know that you are getting the kinds of foods that will be healthy for your daughter. Just start by purchasing food there that she will eat. The people who buy food at organic types of stores are often allergic to something, so they know how to shop for allergic people. Once you are able to shift your thinking, you will do fine. You will even be able to figure out how to go to McDonalds and order something without milk ingredients (but it is probably healthier if you don't!) Good luck!

Hi G.,
I am now a grandma, but my youngest daughter couldn't digest milk after I weaned her from the breast at 15 months. We tried every kind of soy, etc. and found the only thing that agreed with her was goat's milk. It is not cheap, but it worked. Good luck to you.


Hi G.. My daughter is allergic to milk as well. We had a hard time shopping for groceries in Hawaii because the major chains like Whole Foods weren't there yet. However, we did have a lot of luck with a store called Down To Earth Natural Foods. There is one next to Circuit City in Pearl City, behind Pearlridge mall. There is also an Anna Miller's in that shopping center. Also, there is a Down To Earth in downtown Honolulu by the university. It's on King Street. And there is also one in Kailua. They have a huge selection of dairy free foods. Earth Balance margarine is a transfat-free margarine that comes in tub or stick and has no dairy at all. You can use that when butter is called for in a recipe. It also tastes great on bread. They have soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, Tofutti soy slices, and dairy free ice cream. And they are great about special ordering stuff. We even got them to buy "Hip Whip" which is a dairy free Cool Whip type topping. I would avoid goat's milk. Our allergist said that the amino acid chains in goat's milk protein are nearly identical to those in cow's milk, and that 95% of kids who are allergic to cow's milk also end up being allergic to goat's milk. Nutritionally, soymilk is usually the best, but a lot of the other milk substitutes are fortified so that they are also very nutritious. You may want to try them all. I've found that I prefer unsweetened soymilk for cooking and, but that almond milk is better on cereal and in smoothies. Even though shopping is hard, eating out was easier in Hawaii than anywhere we've been stationed, thanks to the heavy Asian influence in the restaurants. There is a restaurant called Ba Le next to Sports Authority downtown (behind the Old Spaghetti Factory) that has great (and cheap) plate lunches, sandwiches (lemongrass chicken sandwich is awesome) and dairy free tapioca pudding (made with coconut milk, and oh so delicious). We make most of our puddings and deserts with coconut milk now, after trying that. Haupia is dairy free. And most meats are simply prepared and dairy free, with 2 scoops rice. It's hard at first, because you have to learn to cook all over again, but you're in a great place to learn to do that. Good luck!!

Hi G.,

I too have a milk sensitive child! In the begining it is very overwelming! I can remember saying outloud in the grocery store "why is their milk in hotdogs??!" Be really careful about using Soy products as a replacement since soy has a very high Estrogen content. Soy is not as good for us as the marketing companys would like us to think! And some kids who are allergic to milk are also allergic to soy. We use Almond Milk. Anyway the bottom line is you do have to read every ingredient and it stinks. Plus you have to keep reading them because companys constantly change their stuff. There is a book "The milk free Kitchen" and here is a website link to TACA and there are lots of milk free recipies as well as a NO NO list of other ingredients that contain milk.

I have found there is pretty much a replacement for everything except cheese. The veggie cheese is not a hit at our house. As you work through this you might find that she can tolerate something sometimes and not during other times. It is all very frusterating but not as frusterating as always having a sick kid! Best of luck and feel free to email directly with any more help!! ____@____.com

PS Hawaii should be agreat place to find lots of dairy free products! Good luck and hang in there!!

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