Milk Allergy Moms: What Do Your Kids Drink?

Updated on October 23, 2012
C.G. asks from Naperville, IL
19 answers

My son just turned one, and although he still breastfeeds 3x a day, I'm starting to add "milk" to his diet, in addition to the nursing and whatever water he drinks (not much - he's not big on it). As I indicated a few months ago in a previous question, he reacts to all dairy products, with some nasty hives all over his face. Strangely, we did have him blood-tested for food allergies, and he's allergic to eggs and highly allergic to walnuts, but the milk came back negative - although he still reacts every time I try something dairy, so we're avoiding it for now.

My question is, what do you give your toddler or kid to drink instead of cow's milk? It seems like there are no great options. We cannot do almond milk because we are avoiding all tree nuts due to the walnut allergy, and other tree nuts haven't been tested on him yet. Rice milk isn't recommended because of the arsenic issue with rice. Soy milk is controversial because of the estrogen concerns in soy. So... that leaves coconut milk, which I'm not convinced has much nutritional value at all, or hemp milk, which also doesn't seem to have much nutritional value (not to mention these are hard to find).

Right now I am giving him about 12 oz of organic plain soy milk per day because it seems like our best option, but it would be nice to have something to alternate that with so he doesn't get so much soy, since we also eat soy products like tofu and edamame here and there.

Anyways, anyone more experienced than me have some good pointers or suggestions, etc. on this?


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answers from Chicago on

Coconut milk the brand that is not made with peanuts or soy on the lines. It's in a red box. However my daughter had tummy pain with the shelf box milk she only tolerates the cold fridge kind of this. We don't do sweetened or vanilla just the red original I believe. We love their vanilla ice cram too.
I agree NO soy, for MANY reasons listed below and 80% of milk allergy kids will b or develop allergy to soy.
Also there is potato milk, yummy but sweet.



answers from Chicago on

We did rice milk. My son outgrew his allergy around 2. He drinks water. I wish I could get him to drink milk, but he ist interested. He's healthy, so I don't worry about it.

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answers from Des Moines on

You could try goats milk ...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Another vote for goats milk.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fargo on

We used goat's milk starting at age one and it made all the difference in the world for our daughter!

I wouldn't touch soy milk with a 10 foot pole.

Coconut milk is a great alternative, but it is considered a tree nut, so that wouldn't be a good fit for your son.

Give the goat's milk a try, otherwise try fermented dairy products such as yogurt and dairy kefir as a dairy source.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Have you tried other forms of dairy? I ask because my son is intolerant to milk in a cup and I could never have dairy while nursing. But as he gets older he is fine with yogurt because the milk proteins are partially broken down.

But, there is no reason that a child has to have any kind of milk. Just make sure he is getting a healthy diet otherwise, including lots of healthy fats and some calcium. This is pretty much what I'm doing now. We had always done the rice milk, but with the recent reports, we're drinking more water instead.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

The best thing for him is water.
You could try goat's milk.
Watered down juices.



answers from Chicago on

Especially if you are still nursing, he doesn't need any other "milk." Water is fine, or very diluted juice if he gets bored with water.

Soy can cause hormonal issues, even if it is organic, so I would avoid that.

Allergy testing is not reliable in very young children--- if he is reacting to dairy, then definitely avoid it. Humans don't need bovine milk, and casein is a big problem even with those not "allergic." Many people are sensitive without having a true allergy.

We did MSA allergy testing through HomeFirst, which I was skeptical of, but came back with more items to avoid than the allergist's testing, and since we have stuck with those, we've had great luck.

Coconut milk (whole fat) has great fats- I would use that as much as possible. Hemp is the same. For calcium, greens are best, and for vitamin D there is the old fashioned sun ;) or lamps you can buy.



answers from Cincinnati on

My son drinks rice, I havent heard about the arsenic issue either. But then again it's also in just about fruit juice as well, so at times it seems nothing is safe.
My pediatrician (and lactation consultant when I nursed) said that we should rely on cow's milk too much for nutrients. There are better ways to get calcium and Vitamin D. There are more and more kids developing milk allergies and intolerance because of all the junk that is fed to the cattle and added to milk. And how milk is formed by a 2000 lb mother to be broken down by her 300 lb baby LOL good point!
If you're sticking w/ soy just limit it. ANd make sure he's getting lots of veggies and fruit!



answers from Portland on

I drink Organic rice milk. I don't think that has arsenic in it. I'm not aware of the concern over arsenic but I suggest that with most concerns one would have to drink an impossible amount of milk for it to be an issue.

I don't know for sure but I suggest that hemp and coconut milk can be fortified with calcium and other nutrients. Nearly every milk substitute I've looked at has been.

Allergy tests are not always accurate. Good that you're avoiding dairy. If he is allergic to the protein in cow's milk, goat milk contains the same protein. However, some people who can't tolerate cow's milk can tolerate goat. I'm lactose intolerant and cannot drink goat's milk. My granddaughter was allergic to dairy protein and could not drink goat's milk.

FYI kids often outgrow their allergy to dairy. My granddaughter was able to tolerate dairy by the time she was 5.

I shop at Fred Meyer's and they have a whole section on the shelves and in the refrigerated section with several different options for milk substitutes. So does Safeway, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's.



answers from Chicago on

Flax milk might be a good choice. I would just keep breast feeding and give him watered down calcium and vitamin d orange juice when he gets older. My daughter is no nuts, wheat, or dairy and we just make sure she has dark leafy greens and o.j. We use rice or flax when baking or in cereal but not to drink.



answers from Savannah on

My son was officially diagnosed with a milk allergy right after his first birthday, and we also were warned to stay away from tree nuts. I debated between soy, rice, and coconut, but ultimately went with soy as it has the most nutritional value of the 3. The main factors were calcium, healthy fat, and protein. I also discussed this with a nutritionist, which I think you can benefit from. Since you have issues with the other milk options, you might be able to come up with a diet plan for your child along with the nutritionist's knowledge that can safely eliminate "milk" all together. Your boy would have to be a great eater though, willing to eat a variety of foods.

We were told that most cow's milk protein allergic people also have an allergy to goat's milk because they are very similar . . . however, since the tests came back negative for the milk allergy, goat's milk might work out. You can try a small amount and see if the reaction occurs.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

The blood tests are not always accurate and show up false negative and false positives all the time. If you see an issue, there is one. First thing is to see if he is allergic (or sensitive) to other dairy products like yogurt and cheese. Then there is goat and sheep's milk products you can try. If he is nursing, he really does not need milk beyond what you give him. My son has a dairy sensitivity. He get eczema and is unfocused and silly. He used to get really emotional though and irritable so it often does get better. He is 4 and drinks a 1/2 cup of soy smoothie which is the only thing he will drink. Organic Soy milk in moderation is fine and coconut milk is very healthy. It's very good for the skin and brain.


answers from Boston on

I have friends whose kids had multiple allergies - there is a non-dairy, non-nut, vegetarian product you can give kids. In fact, in many cases, it eliminates the allergies. I have a friend whose child had 60 food allergies plus a learning disability and rages, another whose child had severe peanut allergies - numbers are now "zero" in both kids.

Soy milk is a concern because the soy in most products is stripped and processed in alcohol and all kinds of other things. The estrogen issue has been contradicted in hundreds of studies - it's a weak, plant-based estrogen and it actually has a beneficial effect in cancer prevention. Good soy has been nature's protein for 5000 years and in high-quality soy diets in parts of the world which have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and estrogen-dependent cancers. And all the men in those countries eat soy with no adverse effects. There are many, many new studies that have reaffirmed the beneficial effects of good soy, and it's been used in the US in clinical trials by radiation oncologists for radiation patients as well as in major heart centers for lowering of cholesterol and improved heart health. It's also been used to increase survival after breast cancer, and decrease the likelihood of cancer returning (e.g. by attaching to the receptor cells in the breast and preventing the cancer cells from attaching). Also look at all the new info from Dr. Oz and all the major publications about lunasin, a peptide found in soy.

I can send you the studies if you want. So, again, it's a question of good soy. But I agree you can't find it in your supermarket because you don't know where it came from, how it was processed, where it was grown, or whether it is genetically modified. Those are all serious concerns, but they can be avoided.



answers from Los Angeles on

My son drinks soy milk. His pediatrician, allergist and nutritionist (from the allergist's office) all recommended that over any other alternative milk products. It is most similar to cow's milk in terms of nutrients, vitamins and fat (which is important when they are little).

yes, I have heard all the controversy and fears about too much soy, but I decided to go with the doctors' recommendations. We buy the non-refrigerated kind at Costco (Kirkland brand) since it lasts for a long time and is cheaper than buying Silk, plus it's organic. He's 5 now and he is all boy, so the estrogen isn't having any negative or noticeable effects on him, at least not yet.

I hadn't heard about the arsenic in rice milk. Interesting. I would have suggested that as a backup to soy. I don't think coconut milk or hemp milk have much nutritional value at all. There is also controversy and debate over whether or not coconut is a tree nut, so I'd watch for a reaction if you decide to try that one.

A few other tips that may help you along the way (we avoid all milk, egg and nuts for my son):
1. His favorite pizza is Amy's brand dairy-free cheeze made with a rice crust
2. His favorite cereal/granola bars (the kind with fruit in the middle, similar to a nutri-grain bar) are either Glutino brand or Barbara's brand
3. Enjoy Life makes pretty good double chocolate cookies
4. "What's to Eat: The Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free Cookbook" has really good recipes for cakes, cookies, and other baked goods (plus regular food too, though we usually just use it for baking)
5. Duncan Hines homestyle original chocolate frosting is dairy-free, as are many of their cake mixes
6. A good egg substitute when baking is to mix together 1.5 TBSP of oil + 1.5 TBSP of water + 1 tsp of baking powder and add the mixture in place of an egg. We've found that it works best when you only need to replace one or two eggs; any more than that and it doesn't come out that well.

Good luck! I hope he outgrows them.

ETA: just read many of the other responses. Be very careful with goat's milk when you first try it, as many people who react to dairy also react to goat's milk. And definitely don't do lactaid. Your child is not lactose intolerant but rather truly allergic to the proteins in milk and drinking lactaid will NOT solve the problem.



answers from Chicago on

Try goats milk, some times you can get it from a local farmer. My daughter had to go that route.



answers from Dallas on

At this age you should not have to worry about the estrogen levels in soy. It should not cause issues at this age. My boys both drank soy milk for probably about 5 years on a regular basis. Then just occasionally since we don't do much with milk. Now they do almond or rice. Your only other option that I am aware of is trying goats milk. I have not used it but know that there have been people I knew when I was young that that is what they drank. One of my mom's friends bought a goat because it was easier to get it from the goat than find it in the store but that was a LONG time ago.



answers from Chicago on

My gma could not handle the cow's milk from the store, but had no issues with unpasteurized cow's milk. There is a place here in the suburbs that sells it.

As for coconut milk, I'm not sure about the milk, but coconut oil is extremely healthy for you and so I would have to think that the milk would be beneficial too.

As for soy, I agree with you. My mom got off of cow's milk and started having soy milk a lot and developed an allergy to soy. She had to stop completely for 6 mths + and now she can have it in small amount. She drinks rice milk. You can make your own rice milk easily too.

Another friend of mine's dd is SO allergic to so many things and anything dairy based causes her to have a hard time breathing and has to be on a nebulizer. But, my friend is able to eat or drink ANYTHING, and her dd has no issues from her breast milk. So, even though she's 2 1/2 my friend is still nursing her dd. She's getting such great nutrition that way. Her dd was also such a picky kid and now they know why. She knew her own body.



answers from Fort Collins on

We chose Coconut Milk for our milk-intollerant DS after consulting with his ped and a nutritionist. So Delicious brand - original-in red carton. It actually has a great amount of good fats which are critical to brain development in the first two yrs. (Breast milk provides this, but after you wean, you need a good alternative.) It also has great calcium. It does not have the protein dairy milk or soy milk provides, but if he eats meat, eggs, and beans regularly, he should be getting the protein he needs. We also do soy or coconut milk "yogurt."

After two yrs old, you don't really "need" a nondairy substitute (except for cooking/baking)...and can move to primarily drinking water.

It's a bit of an adjustment (after not having to deal with food allergies) but we were quite comfortable after about 6-9 months or so. It gets easier. :) Good luck!

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