Weaning plus Dairy Allergy - What to Do?

Updated on December 21, 2009
K.B. asks from Mars, PA
20 answers

I can't quite figure out how to do this. My daughter is almost 13 months and still nurses about 5 times a day. She has a dairy allergy so we haven't been able to replace feedings wth milk. We tried soy milk and she seems really adverse to it, only taking a little if we water it down. I know that's not the healthy, filling drink she is used to. So what should I do? Is it ok to cut feedings if we are not replacing them with milk?

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So What Happened?

A huge thank you to all the advice on different types of milk and how to switch over. It is a very emotional process on top of the allergy, so I appreciate the input and support.

More Answers


answers from Williamsport on

Whatever you do, don't just trust your doctor on this one. I love my doctor, but he's no nutritionist, and every time I turn around, he's telling me to cut dairy. It was the first thing he told me to do when my daughter had excema, and I made the choice, excema or not, she needs the essential fats, protein and calcium inherently present in organic cow an goat milk, not calcium fortified soy etc which is OK sometimes, but not a good full time substitute before 2 years of age. The fats alone in milk are crucial for brain development. So FIRST, find out how to replace those elements effectively or continue to nurse if you possibly can. Second, be absolutely SURE she is allergic to dairy-get lots of opinions. Dairy allergies are EXTREMELY over diagnosed and a lot of kids are having very valuable nutrients taken away. Good luck! ps, We're healthy vegetarians too, I get it, that soy is supposed to be the end all be all substitute, but it isn't and there are a lot of studies showing that too much soy is harmful. Foods made to look like other foods -milk, cheese, patties, etc, are HIGHLY engineered. We do occasional soy milk, occasional organic tofu, and for a real treat, occasional soy dogs. But don't replace all her milk with soy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Babies, both breast and formula fed, often don't take right away to the new milk. If she is a good eater otherwise, I would choose a time to give only soy milk in a cup, at least warmed to room temperature. I wouldn't water it down- it just takes some getting used to. Be sure not to give in and allow nursing at that time. Cont to substitute other feeds until she's doing mostly milk from a cup. Bedtime feeds are usually the last to go.
Good Luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

Absolutely. (IMO) At 13months, she doesn't need milk at all the times she is currently nursing. I'm assuming she is also on solids? If so, a good bit of her nutrition at over a year old, should be coming from solid foods.

My first son didn't care for cow's milk when we tried to wean him, so we tried mixing. Does she ever take formula? Or do you ever express breast milk? If so, try mixing the soy milk with formula or breast milk. Try 1/2 and 1/2 (or even 1/4 soy to 3/4 breast if she really doesn't like it) and then slowly raise the amount of soy milk and lessen the amount of breast milk/formula.

You can replace some of the feedings with juice or water as well, or any other healthy drink option that is o.k. for her. (If she is able, try the Stoneybrook Farm yogurt drinks. They are organic and my sons both love them... plus yogurt is good for their little tummies.) Just try to watch the amount of juice, and try to pick a juice with only natural sugars (no sugar added). I've read that to try and keep juice intake down, you can try and limit juice to mealtime (and alternate it with milk), and serve water in between. I guess (soy) milk is fine for in between too... I know my son loves it... but the only thing I find is that milk fills him up more, so sometimes it reduces his appetite for meals (kind of like giving him a snack too close to dinner time.)

I hope this helps... good luck! And, good luck weaning too. Its an emotional project. Good for you for making it so long!!! Its so healthy for baby!!!



answers from Scranton on

Are you feeding her cereal with soy in it? As long as she grows, you are doing ok. The doctor will monitor this at regular checkups. She should be getting her nourishment through a lot of foods by now. We aren't supposed to have cows milk anyway. Keep offering the soy with water added, you can also try mixing some juice into it. Here are a couple links for info on your childs health.



answers from Harrisburg on

Like other people have said, she doesn't need dairy. She can get all her nutrients through other means. With regards to soy milk, maybe they have flavored soy milk? Or soy cheese? Soy yogurt perhaps? Also, have you tried goats milk?



answers from Chicago on

I also have a child with dairy allergy and no soy at the time but developed one later. My pediatricain strongly suggested to continue nursing up till 2. This was my 3rd baby and I never....went that long with the other two. However looking back I am SO GLAD I did. Just for the nutrician part of it! Especially with allergies it is an immmune disorder inheritaded or not. After 2 he was ready to wean and I just pushed fruits/vegetables and lean meats..I used organic Calcium and Vit D fortified milk in his ceral and mashed potatoes and shortly after seeing his brothers ask and drink milk he would drink the rice milk. Beware of the soy!!! My son developed a soy allergy a year later and anytime he would have a tiny bit 2 hours later he would vomit for 1-2 hours everytime..No matter if it was an ingredient in a cracker or a bite of ceral with soy milk. YIKES! He is 3 know and VERY HEALTHY...never sick, and growing great! Fruits and Vegetables are the secret! I also found this company that juices fruits and vegetables and puts them in a gummie form...That made a huge diffrence on top of what I was feeding him! Hope this helps!



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear K.,
There are several avenues to consider but I would try to seek out what the pediatrician says because it could be something in your diet. If the child has been tested and milk is the culpret, then a nutritionist would recommend almond milk, rick milk, etc. I know that my company has a product that might help also, but you would need to contact me.
I hope that this is helpful. Enjoy your holiday season.


answers from Philadelphia on

Our daughter has the same issue with a dairy allergy, and she can't have soy either. We tried a bunch of "allergy-free" formulas, but they all contain dairy! Just small "pre-digested amounts, but dairy nonetheless. They were awful too, and smelled like wet Cheetos.

She's down to only nursing 3-4 times a day, but what we've been supplementing with is Elecare, which we order from Abbot Nutrition. It was what the allergist finally settled on. No dairy, no soy. It smells fine. It's kind of like a chalky vitamin drink, but it comes in a DHA and ARA fortified variety, and for older babies, it comes in a vanilla flavor.

Also, it's really no more expensive than regular allergy-free formulas if we order direct. It's ordered _only_ by the case, 6 large cans for $196, which come out to be about $32 a can.

Also, we're going to gradually introduce dairy when the allergist thinks it's safe, but we're going to start with Goat's Milk products. (I have a dairy allergy too, but it seems to be fine for me to eat goat and sheep. They're different proteins entirely.)


answers from Allentown on

Hi, K.:

Contact your local La Leche League breast feeding consultant at www.llli.org

If you don't get any help from them, please let me know.
Good luck. D.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Neither of my breastfed children took to milk either. I nursed both to age 2. They both drink water and I let them get their calcium from the foods they eat.

I too have a dairy allergic child but would not recommend soy milk because of its estrogen properties. Instead I give my daughter enriched rice milk. You can buy it in aseptic containers at Giant Eagle, Trader Joes, even Walmart Supercenters. I belive it is made by Rice Dreams. (We also found Oat Milk once. She loved it but we haven't been able to find it since :-(



answers from Philadelphia on

I think you have two problems here simultaneously. Is she good at drinking from a sippy cup in general? If not, maybe you could work on that skill separately (this does mean pumping, unfortunately, if you can't find something else she's excited about drinking).

When my son was weaned, he definitely had to get the idea of drinking quantities out of the cup. Also, he didn't really settle down to it until I cut back his number of nursings daily pretty significantly. (I don't think he really started finishing his sippies until we got down to just bedtime nursing.) This was hard for a couple of weeks, but he just ate more (baby food, which is very wet anyway) when he didn't drink enough and he was fine. (but it was traumatic at the time)

Also, have you discussed other options for non-milk drinks with your pediatrician? Is your child unable to drink goat's milk, even if she can't drink cow's milk? Or how about rice milk or almond milk if there are no nut allergy concerns? Or even just different flavors/brands of soy milk, there are lots of different options.



answers from Johnstown on

My daughter nursed until 14 months with similar situation. The slightest amount of cows milk (example: a few bites of macaroni and cheese) and we have pooey running down both legs before she is down from the table! She is now two and a half, and doing great with goats milk. It is more easily digested like breast milk. I live in the Punxsutawney area (which isn't very big - so I have been unable to find the low fat goats milk (she should be having two percent at this age), but I use the canned goats milk - found in the baking section at walmart with other evaporated milk, etc. She doesn't have any problems with the goats milk. It is more expensive than cow milk, but worth every penny for a healthy child. And research shows that goats milk is very good for a number of reasons. It's worth a try. Hope it helps.
And be sure to let the family and friends know the importance of using her milk (so as to avoid the macaroni and cheese with pooey!) Goats milk does have a different taste to it (fair warning) - but it is more like breast milk, and so good for her. In macaroni and cheese, etc. you'll hardly notice the difference.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi, I agree with the other poster who suggested expressing breastmilk, and mixing with the soy milk, and gradually increasing the fraction of soy while she gets used to the taste.

The other option is, of course, there is no hard and fast rule that says you need to stop nursing at 1 year. If you need to, for any reason, that's fine - I'm not trying to give you a hard time about it. But if your only reason is that you think you should stop at 1 year because that's what most people do, I'd encourage you to consider staying with it for a while. There are a lot of resources online on extended nursing if you are interesting - and in many other countries, moms nurse until their babies are 2, not 1, which is what the world health organization actually recommends.



answers from Pittsburgh on

You are not cutting nirsing feedings and replacing them with milk, you are cutting nirsing feedings as they are being relaced with food feedings. Milk will not really replace a full meal, between age 1 and 2 milk consumption should not exceed 16-20 ounces per 24 hour period. I have heard as high as 24 ounces. So, if your child is eating regular meals, or as your child begins to eat regular meals she will be getting most of her nutrients from the food. Make sure she has a balanced diet and she will be fine.

My son had a milk sensitivity. At the recommendation of his gastrointestinal doctor, I nursed for 13 1/2 months. I couldn't even have milk products of any kind (any milk based ingredient like casein etc.) or he would have blood in his stool. He grew out of it, at 10 months we introduced yogurt, then a month or two later cheese then milk. But, having had to research and find alternatives while nursing and planning for the possibility of a full blown allergy I found many alternatives. Talk to your doctor about toddler formulas. Infant formulas do not provide enough nutrients for toddlers so they have toddler formulas. Not a nutritional equivalent but for taste cocnut milk (not canned coconut milk for cooking) but the brand So Delicious


has a coconut milk drink that does not have the soy aftertaste or the sweetness of rice milk. It had the least distinct flavor and their coconut milk ice cream in any flavor is a taste equivalent to Breyer's.

I found alot of useful information through vegan and Kosher for Passover sites and other allergy websites. And talk to your pediatrician. If they are not as helpful as you would like, (many don't have alot of training on food) then see a pediatric nutritionist allergist gastrointestinal doctor, etc. Our pediatrician, gastrointestinal doctor were both very helpful but I supplemented their guidance with food info I researched myself.



answers from Scranton on

when I weaned my daughter we switched to fortified rice milk. It is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. I made sure to give her fish oil for good fats and plenty of avocado. You DO NOT NEED cow's milk to get all the fats she needs. My daughter is now 28 months and has never drank cow's milk. She is way above average in her language skills and she has an amazing memory. Cow's milk is way overrated and yes dairy allergies are very common. Good luck!



answers from Lancaster on

My son had a dairy allergy, we did not do our research and used soy and ended up with a severe soy allergy. We now use, and should have used coconut milk.




answers from Philadelphia on

My son has a dairy allergy as well.He hated the soy milk when he weaning. Have you tried the very vanilla flavor by Silk. Its tastes like a vanilla milk shake. I did this for a little bit got him use to the taste texture etc. and the halfed the reg with vrt van then put him on the all reg. Good luck. Oh also if u are looking for good recipes dairy free. Allergykids.org is great. Bernadette



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi Kelly,
Been there done that -- 3 times. We went to Almond milk. I also don't bother with milk very often. I give a calcium/vitamin D supplement daily. My kids drink 100% fruit juice fortified with calcium, 1/4 juice to 3/4 water. Or they drink plain water. As long as you have a healthy diet you dont have to worry. I would say - keep on nursing if you can tho- there's nothing better than MOMMY's Milk.

Good Luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

I had the same problem with my son. I nursed him until 16 months and at that point I had such a low supply that I had to stop. Keep trying the soy milk. Have you tried vanilla soy milk, rice milk or toddler soy formulas? All of these drinks (including soy milk) have much less fat than whole milk, so you have to make sure that she is getting fat in other ways. I used to add olive oil to my son's food. (Adding it to soup or baby food seemed to work). Keep trying the soy milk. Toddlers often need to be exposed to something many times before they will like it. The good news is that most kids apparently outgrow this allergy by 3 years old. My son is almost 2 and I am having him re-tested soon.



answers from Philadelphia on


As has already been asked, if you don't need to stop nursing, then the easiest solution is to continue nursing till she self weans and by then the issue of drinking milk will hopefully be smaller.

At 13 months, her diet is likely still predominantly liquid. If you are going to stop breastfeeding then you should offer a replacement milk. Is there a reason why you chose soy milk. there have been some interesting studies coming out about the effects of so much soy in small children and that's probably something you should look into. There are alternative milks out there as well. In our area, I can find almond milk, rice milk, and occasionally hemp milk, in assorted flavors like regular, vanilla, and chocolate. These are available at both regular stores and at more "specialty" natural foods stores.

My dd is 27 months old and doesn't really take any other milks yet. It's not an issue for me since she still nurses on demand. Mainly it's just when she's upset and first thing in the morning and before naps/bedtime.


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