15 answers

Reintroducing Dairy After a Dairy Allergy (Not Lactose Intolerance)

We discovered my son had a dairy allergy (this is an allergy to protein, not lactose intolerance)when he was 1 month old. His doctor said at one year we could try dairy again to see if he has outgrown the allergy (apparently many children do outgrow it by 1). My concern is how best to reintroduce dairy. Do I just give him a cup of milk or do I try a small amount of mild dairy, like yogurt? If he is still allergic and I give him a cup of milk I know he will be in horrible pain, but if I give yogurt, he might only be slightly uncomfortable and I won't be able to tell if he is still allergic until it builds up over time causing longer lasting problems. The doctor seems pretty clueless in the matter, so I am asking anyone with dairy allergy experience - what did you do and what were the results? I would prefer to receive only responses based on experience as opposed to opinions or guesses. (Please do not respond to me about cow's milk being for baby cows.) Thank you, and wish me luck because I can't bear the idea that I might make my baby go through a whole day of tummy pain.

What can I do next?

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My son has protein losing enteropathy, and we've been to the gastroenterologist for years.... When we started reintroducing, he had us give him 2 ounces of milk every other day for a week, then 4 ounces every other day for a week, then 6 ounces, then 8 ounces. Very gradual, so you should hopefully notice if there's something wrong. Good luck, I know it's difficult!

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My heart goes out to you and your little guy.

Have you ever heard that fermented dairy is easier to digest? As you work to desensitize your son's system starting with a good quality yogurt made from organic milk will make it easier for him. If you can get a milk share for raw milk that is best.

If you would like more information I would be pleased to get that for you.


Hi A.,

I had this issue when I was a child. I proved to be allergic to the milk protiens also. After a year we started testing to see if I could have outgrown it. We started with yogurt, as it is the mildest. I remember my mom gave me a small, child sized cup for easy portion control and note taking. After proving, or in my first couple of tries disproving, that I had outgrown the allergy, we simply moved on to other dairy products, keeping mild, with things like simple cheeses and so
on. Unfortunately it is really a process of trial and error, seeing what your child can handle. Make sure to keep a dairy diary for good reference. Some kids can handle the milder things like yogurt and mozzerella cheese, but never get past that. I am happy to tell you I am writing this to you after having a nice glass of milk with my cookies =D

Best wishes,
L. and family

My son has a milk allergy, is 4 yrs old, and was diagnosed a 4 mos. I would not recommend reintroducing it at all. If he is still allergic, he's going to have a reaction of some kind. Have him see an allergist first! My son has been tested annually by the Dr. with either blood test or skin test and has not outgrown it yet. It's a momentary amount of pain, but it won't risk exposing him to an allergen that may cause a reaction.
If your dr. seems clueless, he might be. Please seek an allergist's opinion,or if this dr. is one, find another~ Good luck~ I know what a struggle food allergies can be, hang in there.

Our son is also severely allergic to dairy. He is almost 3 and still has not outgrown it. We take him in every 9 months to get retested and every time we are told a new static for outgrowing the allergy. The truth is they just don't know. Nonetheless, to answer your question. If your son is allergic it isn't going to matter whether you give him yogurt or milk or some other form of dairy he will have a reaction. Have benedryll (ask your allergist how much to give in case of a reaction..I can't remember the dose for that age) and epipen handy just in case. Sad, but true that's what they tell you. We had to do this little "experiment" at 1 yr. also. I gave yogurt and shortly after our son began screaming, vomiting, swelling. and rolling on the floor. Give just a little and wait would be my advice. I think I gave too much. I hope this helps at least a little. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions. I know at 1 it does get more difficult because you're beginning to go to all foods no bottles. To put you at ease a little it isn't has hard has we originally thought and we've adjusted just fine. I also have several good websites for ideas, t-shirts, bibs etc. with allergy warnings on them which I found very helpful once our son started walking around at parties etc.
BTW- I just read some responses and I completely agree you should consult an allergist first. Our pediatrician was the one who told us to introduce dairy at 1 and gave very little guidance. If I had known better I would have seen an allergist first.

Doris Rapp MD's book, "Is This Your Child?" contains information for you on rotation diets if you really want to try to introduce milk/dairy.

Cows milk is for baby cows--it's not for people. I don't know if I'd try to reintroduce milk if I were you. Some children display symptoms of autism when they are unable to digest the protein in milk (casein) and gluten grains.

My young grandson whom I am raising, also has a milk allergy and numerous other food allergies. I do not introduce any food on a trial basis. He goes to an allergist who does a skin test to measure the level of reactivity. Because my grandson has numerous allergies, his system had been compromised and he cannot tolerate the stress of digesting anything that he reacts to. I would say to not be in a hurry to reintroduce milk or dairy. Have you tried soy?

I have dealt with food allergies with my son. The longer you have avoidance the chance of outgrowing them is better. Total avoidance is the best way to go.
Consult with an allergist as to the level of allergy and eating foods. Trial and error is putting the protein in the body. Skin testing will give you the answers. My pediatrician did not understand the whole food allergy process and we got on the right track when we got to the pediatric allergist.

Good Luck......it is an exhausting and tedious process to deal with allergies.

My daugher is allergic to dairy, peanuts, beef and pork so I know where you are coming from. I would have a blood test done to determine if he is still allergic to dairy. We have not done the actual skin testing b/c we are very over-protective of her and so far the blood tests have worked great. My daughter is 3 and is finally able to have dairy products, we did a milk challenge to determine this. We are introducing foods with milk very slowly, starting with things that are baked with it...gold fish, banana bread, etc. She has had cheese on pizza and didn't have any problems. She isn't that fond of yogurt or drinking an actual cup of milk which is fine we know it will take time. There are so many products with milk in them that I would start with those first and then actually move to yogurt, cheese, milk, etc.

Hi A.,

My daughter had an allergy to egg whites. It was a contact allergy ... anywhere the egg white touched, she would get this horrible red rash. I only found out about it when I introduced the whole egg when she was 12 months old. Anyway, I had read that kids can outgrow these kinds of things. So, around age 16 months I began to slowly introduce egg whites. (she didn't have problem if they were IN something, like muffins or what not just with scrambled eggs) I just started adding a little bit of the egg white to her egg. Now, she can eat the whole thing.

I'm not saying this is the only way to do it... but it is possible that by just introducing it slowly, mildly, a little at a time that his body will adjust and he will be ok.

That being said... milk is not an absolutely necessity. Pastuerization and homegenation change the proteins in the milk to the point where they are very harsh on our stomachs. In addition, cows milk was made for baby cows. Not baby humans. The big reason pediatricians push milk is for the fat and the vitamin D that is added back into the milk.

There are other ways to get both. The fat content is important since their brains NEED fat (good fats) to grow properly. However, these good fats can be found in fish, olive oil, and avacado just to name a few. Vitamin D can be given as a liquid supplement during the winter months. In the summer... just a few minutes outside (unprotected because sunblock stops the skins ability to absorb the sun rays needed to make the vitamin D) every day will allow him to produce the vitamin D he needs.

I'm not surprised he had problems with dairy as an infant. As I said, the milk proteins are altered in the processing and are VERY harsh on little tummys. There is a lot of good information out there on providing good nutrition without milk.

www.nourishyourkids.com is a great site for nutritional information. It is run by a nutritionist and pediatrician.

I know my daughters situation wasn't exactly like yours, but I thought our experience might help.

Remember that some kids may have an intolerance rather than a full-blown allergy. If you decide to re-introduce, make sure to also watch your child's behavior. Kids who are intolerant to dairy don't typically have the same reaction as fully-allergic kids (who would break out in hives, have severe pain, and possibly vomit). Some of them still have trouble digesting the dairy and then it builds up in their systems and affects their behaviors rather than a visual reaction (does that make sense?)

Hi A.---Before you worry too much about having your son consume diary products, I would suggest you look at the website www.strongbones.org. I am a former cows milk drinker and about 6 years ago I began an adventure to eat healthier by concentrating on fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes. I am currently taking a Wellness Class offered by a Naturopath who has her PhD in nutrition. After completing Wellness 101, my family has given up drinking cows milk. Having said that, we do use goats milk yogurt when we use yogurt, as the proteins found in goats milk are more similar to human milk proteins than cows milk.

I believe another mom gave this advice, but cows milk is meant for baby cows to grow big quickly. Cows milk contains proteins that can be highly allergenic and are implicated in Type 1 diabetes as well as other autoimmune disorders. If your son has shown sensitivities, I would not have dairy as part of his diet.

I would be happy to share other resources with you about the milk subject. I can also get you lists of foods that have great calcium content, most of which offers more readily absorbed calcium than what milk does. The main thing is that you check out all of the research and opinions out there and make your most informed decision.

I look forward to talking to you. In health, D. ###-###-####

I would consult an allergist (because this doctor doesn't sound as if he is one and if he is I would find a new allergist). Children can outgrow allergies, but they can also get worse. My daughter has multiple food allergies (we haven't reintroduced anything yet, she's 4) because through testing we know that even though the allergies are less severe than they have been that they are still there and one time when she actually accidently ate something she still had a reaction. I don't know the severity of your son's dairy allergy, but if he's had bad reactions in the past I would definitely consult an allergist who was familiar with reintroducing things or one that would at least do testing before you had to reintroduce something.

This type of allergy tends to run in my family (beef and dairy any protein from a cow). My siblings and I completely out grew it by adolescense. I am in the stages of reintroducing dairy and beef into my sons diet. My first suggestion would be beef (or beef/pork mixtures). Make sure he is tolerating some form of bovine protein before giving him dairy. After that I would move onto cultured dairy products such as yogurt, butter, or buttermilk (buttermilk pancakes??). Some of the protein is broken down and is easier on the stomach. From there I went onto cheeses and cooking with milk instead of soy. My last step was giving actual milk. I would also suggest if you can switching to a cloth diaper. It was a lot easier to spot bloody stools in a cloth diaper because it would wick moisture out and color would seperate. My son is 5 now and tolerating a moderate amount of dairy. Some days he does over do it and we back down for a few days. Unfortunately until they completely out grow it, you have no choice but trial and error. I don't know if any of this will work for you but it's what worked for us. Best of luck toyou.

My son has protein losing enteropathy, and we've been to the gastroenterologist for years.... When we started reintroducing, he had us give him 2 ounces of milk every other day for a week, then 4 ounces every other day for a week, then 6 ounces, then 8 ounces. Very gradual, so you should hopefully notice if there's something wrong. Good luck, I know it's difficult!

My 3rd child had an allergy to the dairy formula when he was 4 mos old... He is now eating and drinking cows milk products like a champ. He's almost 2.
Our dr suggested cheese first...
So after seeing him eating cheese and cheese based foods I just gave him a glass of milk one morning. Then I kept an eye on him.
(He would break out in hives... So I waited for a warm day and let him run in his diaper so I could see more of him.)
He has had no reactions...

There are uses for those "allergy" tests... But alot of times they find that you are "allergic" to things you've been eating with no problems for years... Like my 50 yr old friend who was told he was "allergic" to all Vegetables... :-) At least he wasn't a vegetarian.

If you dont want to just dive on in then starting him with solid cheeses and moving to the softer dairy products would be the steps method... (Less cooking of the products more natural enzymes still active etc.) So yogurt and cottage cheeses would be step 2...

I just wanted to let you know that there are some kiddos out there that outgrow it and not everyone has a life long ailment.... But if they do there are ways to go about it... (soy milk, rice milk, etc)

Good luck

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