What to feed baby with milk allergy

Lactose intolerance is another type of reaction to milk, when the body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk.

What to feed baby with milk allergy

However, this is not an allergy.

Lactose intolerance can be temporary – for example, it can come on for a few days or weeks after a tummy bug.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  1. stomach rumbling and pains
  2. vomiting
  3. diarrhoea 
  4. wind


Symptoms of cows’ milk allergy

Cows’ milk allergy can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  1. hay fever-like symptoms – such as a runny or blocked nose
  2. digestive problems – such as stomach ache, vomiting, colic, diarrhoea or constipation
  3. skin reactions – such as a red itchy rash or swelling of the lips, face and around the eyes
  4. eczema that does not improve with treatment

Occasionally CMA can cause severe allergic symptoms that come on suddenly, such as swelling in the mouth or throat, wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and difficult, noisy breathing.

A severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, is a medical emergency – call 999 or go immediately to your local hospital A&E department.


Treatment for CMA

If your baby is diagnosed with CMA, you’ll be offered advice by your GP or an allergy specialist on how to manage their allergy. You may also be referred to a dietitian.

Treatment involves removing every cows’ milk from your child’s diet for a period of time.

What to feed baby with milk allergy

If your baby is formula-fed, your GP can prescribe special baby formula.

Do not give your kid any other type of milk without first getting medical advice.

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the mom will be advised to avoid every cows’ milk products.

Your kid should be assessed every 6 to 12 months to see if they own grown out of their allergy.

Read more about cows’ milk allergy.


Cows’ milk allergy in babies

Cows’ milk allergy (CMA), also called cows’ milk protein allergy, is one of the most common childhood food allergies.

What to feed baby with milk allergy

It is estimated to affect around 7% of babies under 1, though most children grow out of it by the age of 5.

CMA typically develops when cows’ milk is first introduced into your baby’s diet either in formula or when your baby starts eating solids.

More rarely, it can affect babies who are exclusively breastfed because of cows’ milk from the mother’s diet passing to the baby through breast milk.

There are 2 main types of CMA:

  1. immediate CMA – where symptoms typically start within minutes of having cows’ milk
  2. delayed CMA – where symptoms typically start several hours, or even days, after having cows’ milk


What is milk intolerance and milk allergy?

Around 1 in 10 young children has a reaction when they drink cow’s milk.

This could be because they own a lactose intolerance or a milk allergy. Milk allergy is more common than lactose intolerance in children under 5.

Lactose intolerance is a problem with the digestive system – it means your kid doesn’t own the enzyme needed to digest lactose, which is the sugar in milk.

Milk allergy, however, is a problem with the immune system — the body reacts to the protein in milk. An allergy generally involves other parts of the body as well as the stomach, and may cause symptoms such as a skin rash or swelling of the face.

What to feed baby with milk allergy

Your doctor can confirm whether your kid is lactose-intolerant or has a milk allergy by doing some medical tests. Don’t use unproven tests such as Vega, kinesiology, Alcat or allergy elimination tests for children.

What to feed baby with milk allergy

A milk intolerance is unlikely to be the cause of mucus or coughing.

Many young children grow out of their intolerance or allergy.

What to feed baby with milk allergy

But don’t start giving them cow’s milk until your doctor tells you it’s safe to do so.


Treatment for lactose intolerance

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s intolerance. Some children with lactose intolerance may be capable to own little amounts of dairy products without having symptoms.

Your kid may be referred to a dietitian for specialist advice.

Read more about treatment for lactose intolerance in children.


Further information:

Sheet final reviewed: 12 July 2019
Next review due: 12 July 2022

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if your kid has the following symptoms.

What to feed baby with milk allergy

They could be having a severe allergic reaction and will need urgent medical attention.

  1. vomiting
  2. a swollen tongue
  3. wheezing or difficulty breathing
  4. they are pale and floppy or unconscious


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