Best Alternative to Cow's Milk? (Updated)

Updated on September 04, 2011
M.E. asks from Brunswick, GA
17 answers

My son cannot drink cow's milk. He has a milk protein allergy. We have tried, without success...

-goat's milk
-lactose free cow's milk
-almond milk

Even though he is 17 months old he is currently drinking Nutramigen as a milk alternative. His pediatrician prescribed it so we get it on WIC. I would really like to find something else. He cannot stay on formula forever, ya know. Is rice milk a good alternative? Any other suggestions? And cutting out "milk" and just feeding him yogurt/cheese/etc is not an option because we are switching to a gluten free and dairy free diet. Help! TIA!

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answers from Boca Raton on

For times when you need milk (for cereal, baking, etc), I would try coconut milk or rice milk, but as far as nutrition, he can get all he needs from fruits, veggies, sunlight (Vitamin D), and meats. Milk is not necessary for nutrition or growth.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree, stay away from the Soy milk. We give my son Hemp Milk. Tons of great nutrition and Omega's in it. If you are looking for the calcium aspect of what cow's milk has to offer, just know you get more calcium out of vegetables:)

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answers from San Antonio on

coconut milk. i hear it's wonderful and full of vitamins.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You can use rice milk, but if you are looking for nutritional sustenance, rice milk is not good. It nutritional value. (All vitamins added are synthetic and not absorbed well by the body.) If you just need it for baking and other things, it's a good alternative.You can get calcium, vitamin d, and other vitamins from foods. In fact (contrary to popular belief) there is actually very little natural vitamin d in milk. You'd do better to get your son in the outdoors with no sunscreen on a few minutes a day. As far as other vitamins, google "food sources of (insert vitamin your son needs here.)" I am allergic to dairy and find my calcium in foods, and have never had a problem. There is much more vitamins in food, then drinking milk. You may get some suggestions of goats milk, but it still has casein in it, so don't go that route.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Hemp milk might be good - rice milk is ok but isn't as nutritious. Cashew milk is another one I like but I've only had that home-made.


answers from Kansas City on

DONT DO SOY MILK OR SOY FORMULA!!!!!!! our sons' surgeon, and the nutritionists at our childrens hospital told us that is does nothing to help with bone growth and makes their bones do not get as strong as they should!!!!! i would try the rice milk.



answers from Jacksonville on

We actually use Pacific brand Rice Milk....they do not even have trace amounts of gluten unlike Rice Dream...they have a small amount enough for them to be regulated as gluten free...but it is not 100% gluten free...

That is the only thing I can find that my kids will, soy milk is NOT good for is a hormone based bean and cause some HUGE issues with boys--from aggression to infertility....



answers from Pittsburgh on

My daughter has a cow's milk protein allergy. We have always used rice milk with her. There is such a controversy with soy I'd rather avoid it when possible.

I recently tried the rice milk and the plain /unflavored is sweeter then cow's milk. I personally did not care for it on my cereal but this is all she knows and it works for her. We even substitute it in her mashed potatoes.

I know there are other kinds of nondairy milks but I have no personal experience with them. There is coconut, hemp, and flax to name a few.



answers from Tallahassee on

i second coconut milk and hemp milk. yummy and nutritious!



answers from Tallahassee on

Rice milk is a tasty alternative, but he is pretty young for it. Most dietitians I know recommend a fattier alternative (since rice milk is pretty low in fat) until kids are 4 or 5 years old. (I know this b/c I was vegan when my daughter was born, and dietitians came out of the woodwork to guide me with feeding her).

Does he like water? Could he not get his fluids from water, then his proteins and fats from the vegetables and meats? Calcium can come from other sources, and if he's still eating meats then B-Vitamins will still be a regular part of his diet. There is no requirement that we eat dairy at all as adults, but the nutrients he is missing out on are the most important things to replace, and rice milk won't really do this.

I wish you luck with this. Non-dairy is hard enough, and gluten-free is tougher. I hope all goes well!



answers from Miami on

Most kids on GFCF diets drink almond or rice milk. Soy is probably going to be a problem because so many kids are cross allergic/sensitive to both cow's/soy. Also it has phytoestrogens.



answers from Tampa on

We do almond milk. Have you tried the vanilla flavored almond milk? That might be an idea. I have heard though that rice milk is supposed to taste sweeter, so you might want to try that. Good luck :)


answers from Dayton on

My DS is 16 months old, he loves (vanilla) coconut milk! :)
I have cooked w/ it and it is a great alternative to milk.
Coconut milk yogurt is pretty yummy too!



answers from Pittsburgh on

My son is similar to yours - he's 19 months old. He has done well on rice milk, which we started as soon as he turned 1. I do give him a sippy cup of cold nutramigen every now and then, because it does have more nutritional value (and because I still have half a can left and it's too expensive to waste). But 99% of the time he gets the rice milk - on cereal for breakfast, in his sippy cup, I do all the cooking with it - it can substitute for cow's milk in pretty much any recipe with no problem. The plain rice milk is a little sweeter than regular milk, so no need to buy vanilla flavored rice milk.

And he's gaining weight and is growing fine.


answers from Rochester on

Rice milk tastes good, but it's watery. Personally, I prefer coconut milk as a substitute, the Silk brand. Your ped will say "NO!" but you can do the research for's got all the good stuff and doesn't give you bad high cholesterol. It's a myth. Especially for a young child...and it's super yummy. I like the original flavor.

My 16 month old doesn't do any milk, and only eats little bits of cheese and yogurt. There are other ways to get calcium. She has Celiac disease.



answers from Boca Raton on

You got some good suggestions. Great that you're going for gluten and dairy free. We are vegan, processed food and sugar free (for the most part, I slip and snack sometimes tee hee) but I've started making almond milk and my daughter loves it. You soak a cup of almonds overnight with a few pitted dates (I soak in the blender, easier) with 8 cups water. Then blend it up and strain through a cheesecloth. I bought a nut milk bag for a few $ and it's worth it. You keep squeezing and then you save the almond meal to make cookies or crackers! Does your son not like almond milk or does he react? You can easily use any nuts instead.
If you go for hemp milk, go for Pacific brand because they don't add cane juice/syrup like the others. It also tastes the best. Hemp has omegas 3,6 and 9.
For calcium go for green leafies, nori and other seaweeds and tahini.

At a year and a half why is he on formula?

Water is great and important to drink. I think it's interesting that people feel they need milk, even if it's an alternative to the cow stuff. If your son learns to drink water when thirsty, he'll be doing really well.

Unless your pediatrician has some nutritional training, I suggest you seek that advice elsewhere, they don't get nutritional training in medical school.

Good luck!



answers from Boston on

I'm sorry but lactose free milk is still milk and still contains milk protiens you shouldn't have even tried that one.

There are lots of options. Have you tried doing a mix of the formula and a milk and slowly reducing the amount of formula? There is coconut milk (non sweetened, sweetened, vanilla, almond milk comes the same) if you do rice milk make sure you get the one that is enriched with calcium and vit D. You could go to whole foods and pick up some hemp milk to try. So delicious makes some very yummy coconut milk frozen desserts such as ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, fudgiclles, etc

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