Getting Baby to Drink Hypoallergenic Formula

Updated on April 10, 2010
J.S. asks from Boston, MA
14 answers

My 4 month old has a milk protien allergy/intolerance and I have not eaten any dairy or soy for 3 months while breastfeeding. While he has improved, he still has some symptoms and I have decided to begin a slow process of weaning. I plan to do this over a couple months to ease the transition for him. Because of his GI issues, our pediatrician recommended we use a hypoallergenic formula, such as Nutramigen or Alimentum. Unfortunately, he screams everytime we try to introduce it. We can mix a small amount with breastmilk, but if when we increase the mix (such as 50%) he screams. Has anyone had success in transitioning from breastmilk to a hyperallergenic formula for a child who was resistant? If so, please share your strategy.

PS - This is an extremely difficult decision for me. Please be kind - I know breastfeeding questions get people fired up.

Thanks for the replies... In response to your questions, I believe its the taste, but I guess it's hard to be 100% sure. The first time I gave it to him he drank 4oz. That was small for him, but I figured not bad since it was new. He seemed a little fussy after, but not extreme and to be honest, it's not uncommon for him to be fussy anyway. Next bottle he took a little less, maybe 3 oz. Same deal. After that, I decided to start mixing because I figured maybe a full bottle was too much. So I started with 50% mix and he completely refused. He wouldn't take more than a 1/2 oz, which makes me think it is taste and not tummy. But I guess it's possible that his tummy bothered him before and now he associates the taste with it. So last week we reintroduced it at a 5oz breastmilk to 1oz formula mix. This went fine. He didn't seem bothered. To this point we had only used Nutramigen. A friend recommended we try Alimentum for a slightly different flavor. On Monday night my husband tried a 50% mix with Alimentum and that was the worst. One taste and he screamed like crazy - he didn't take more than a sip of it. So with all that, I think it's taste but since he has other tummy troubles I won't be surprised if it bothers him. It's just so hard to know. I don't feel that he's really getting enough formula at this point to tell if its bothering him for sure or if he's just being stubborn. Unfortunately, even being off dairy and soy, he still has occasional issues while on breastmilk only, so I think this is just something we need to work through.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone, for your advice. We've had success in introducing one bottle per day. We've discovered that he will only drink it quite warm. If it's just lukewarm, it's a lost cause. Guess I've got a picky eater on my hands! Can't wait till I try to get him to eat veggies! So far, he does not seem to be having any discomfort after the bottle. Good luck to all of you!

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answers from Boston on


I was going to ask a similar question. My two month old seems to be really gassy. we have been using Similac sensitive and she has been okay but the doctor recommended Alimentum. Now I had tried this with my 6 year old when she was a baby and she flat out refused it. My husband and I tasted it, let me just is DISGUSTING! I was wondering if people had any luck with reducing gas with another type of formula?

I wish you luck, getting them to take a new formula is always hard.


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answers from Boston on

Dairy and wheat/gluten intolerance go hand in hand. You may want to try cutting that out if your diet as well. Also start supplementing your baby with a dairy free, infant probiotic. He could have a yeast overgrowth as well. This will help no matter what you do. Sounds like he has an extremely sensitive digestive system, unfortunatly formula may not help the situation. Soy is also highly intolerable to infants. I'm a health coach if you want anymore diet related tips. My daughter was extremely sensitive to many types of foods in the early months. I did a lot of eliminating of foods(which really helped me as well) probiotics and homeopathy, and she made it through a very healthy baby. Hope that helps! Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on


We had the same situation and I can empathize with your feelings about stopping breastfeeding. Yes,the formula is awful! We ended up doing an even more gradual introduction. We did a 75%breastmilk to 25% formula for a week, then 50-50, then 25-75 then full formula. My daughter never really did like it and your could tell she drank it because she was hungry, not because it was tasty.

Also, there is one more "step" in the ladder of hypoallergenic - Neocate. It has the proteins broken down even farther. This is what we used. If it is still a stomach issue, this may be the route to go, but again it doesn't taste any better and may even be a little worse.

But, the good news is that my daughter is now 22 months and can eat EVERYTHING and does. Hang in there, it is hard, but you will both get through this!!


answers from Boston on

I highly recommend finding an online support group with other families who have htis same issue. They have already been down this road and can advise and off support in ways people who do not have this issue cannot. My son was a healthy preemie (5lbs, no severe issues) and I found a group that saved me everyday! they can support you and let you know what to try, where to find things what to avoid and just a place to talk about something others around you may not understand. You are just scratching the surface Good Luck, he will do great



answers from Hartford on

I didn't read any of the other answers so apols if this repeats. I would just take it VERY slow. If he'll take 5 oz BM and 1 oz that for a few days. Then do 4 1/2 oz BM and 1 1/2 formula.....then 4 and 2 and so on. Maybe that would work? GL!



answers from Denver on

My son had to be switched too -at 8 weeks. I may not add much here about how to get him to eat it (it did smell icky!). We did introduce it a little at a time mixing more and more each time with the breastmillk. The reason for my post is to support your decision to switch to formula. I know it's tough - I've been there. But it's the right decision. The Dr. described the intolerance to digesting milk protein as digesting sharp little objects, that scratched the intestine wall and caused excess mucus and ultimately blood. He was very colicy every night until we switched (then new kid). YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING. FYI - when we switched to "milk" at a year he had similar issues, however now that he is two he can drink cow's milk just fine. Hang in there!



answers from Boston on

Alimentum and nutramagen is still milk based so if he has an allergy he will still have gastro upset with these formulas. My son was born with multiple food allergies and we tried both of those with no avail. Finally our GI doctor put him on Neocate jr which is amino acid based with no milk or soy whatsoever. And within a week of drinking that he was a completely different baby, no more crying, spitting up, or colickyness! I hope this infomation helps you out. Good luck




answers from Los Angeles on

Wow, I had the exact same situation, and at the same point in time, I couldn't take the elimination diet anymore. I couldn't eat dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, peanuts, fish, or shellfish. At 4 months post-partum I only weighed 109 pounds. So, I had to put my daughter on the hypoallergenic formula as well. That stuff is nasty. I tried to wean her off the breast milk as you're doing, but I didn't have much success. I eventually just switched over. She wasn't happy at first, but she did get used to it and enjoyed taking her bottles before too long.

Not to get you down on your decision, but I personally regretted mine. If I had to do it all over again, I would have tried to hang in there for another couple of months or so. However, I would have had to cook for myself more and get a handle on cooking for my special needs. It is tough though. And impossible if you're eating out!

My daughter did fine with milk and soy when we introduced those foods to her when she was older. Now she is a 6-year old with a huge appetite!

Good luck!



answers from Boston on

Hi. My son has severe food allergies. We started noticing around 2 months and I went off dairy soy wheat eggs, dropping more and more foods every week as he continued to flare up. We couldn't win, I'd eat some random thing and he'd react to some hidden ingredient. His pediatrician was the one who finally said I had to stop limiting my diet or I wouldn't get enough nutrients. We started him on alimentum and another one, which he hated. It may be a taste thing but I'd also think about the possibility of you child being allergic to a component of the formula. When they are this young, the world is simple and being fussy about something very well could mean it is wrong for some reason.
He eventually went to Neocate prescription formula. The stuff is practically raw amino acids. I held out till 6 months because I too was strongly compelled to 'stick with it' and breast feeding. I am also in Public Health so I get the breastfeeding manifesto professionally and personally from all sides. The reality was that I struggled intensely and he still suffered and when he finally went to all formula he was a thousand times better. The sad thing is that although breastfeeding may be what is best for a population is not best for all individuals. We forget that in our world of good intentions.
I guess the main reason I'm writing is to give you kudos for doing what is
right for you kid and to hang in there. Check out other formulas if he still is fighting it.



answers from Athens on

Does he scream as soon as feeding begins? I have heard that this type of formula taste and smells awful but babies usually aren't that picky about taste. I would just mix less and less breastmilk with the formula every day until he is used to it. If he is screaming half way thru the feeding it might be hurting his tummy too. I have never had to use this kind of formula but know someone who did.


answers from Minneapolis on

Mama he will stil have symptoms of dairy protein even if you stop nursing. Right now your milk is building up his system so when you DO stop nursing down the road, he will be better prepared to handle this dairy protein allergy with his own system.

My oldest has a dairy protein allergy, and he suffered severe eczema (bleeding, boils, skin falling off in chunks, etc) and I continued to nurse him because I knew that it wa best for him, that the hypoallergenic formula (which is totally gross, by the way, smelling and tasting) wouldn't do him any better.

Continue to nurse him, and add acidophilus to his diet. You can buy the break ope ncaplets you can put the powder right on his tongue. This will beat out any bad bacteria in his body and help him heal from the inside out from his dairy protein allergy. Continue to nurse him, with limiting your diet (you can have almond milk, cook with it, bake with it, etc) because it WILL do him better than giving him chemically created milk, in the long run his body will adjust and be better able to handle the intolerance if he's getting the good stuff from your milk.



answers from New York on

Hi J.,

My son had a milk/soy protein intolerance too. I stopped BFing early, so we didn't have the issues you are currently having (weaning from BM to formula - that went pretty smooth for us). But I wanted to offer some advice that may help.

Our pedi gastro recommended getting an all natural alcohol free vanilla extract. We added a teeny bit of that to his bottles in the beginning to give it some sort of taste (apparently the hypoallergenic formulas aren't too tasty). We eventually weaned him off of the vanilla little by little.

Also, OTC formulas (Nutramigen/Alimentum) are not truely hypoallergenic. So if your son has a severe intolerance he may need a prescription based amino acid formula (we used Elecare).

Best of luck to you, I know how hard 1) giving up BFing is and 2) having a baby with allergies is!


answers from Boston on

If you add a balanced nutritional supplement made for kids you can solve this problem pretty quickly. Reliv Now for Kids is given to preemies thru feeding tubes, has helped failure-to-thrive babies, is used worldwide even among the most malnourished kids around (8000 kids in Haiti, 45000 kids everywhere). It's made here in the US under near-pharmaceutical grade conditions. I can help you talk to other moms if you like just to get info. There are zillions of us right here in Massachusetts so if you want to get together we can do that too. There is hope and it's simple!


answers from New York on

Keep doing what you are doing but a little bit slower. Keep mixing it with breast milk, but slowly add more of the formula or take a little away from the breast milk. I think he might need a little more time, so if you do it slowly it might be better. Is he screaming because he doesn't like it or because it's not agreeing with him? You need to figure that out, and if it's because it doesn't agree with him, you'll have to try something different as you already know :)

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