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Cow’s Milk Allergy In Baby – Solid Feeding

Cow's milk allergy in baby

Milk allergy in baby occurs when his immune system mistakenly treats the milk protein as a dangerous substance and tries to fight it off.

Milk contains at least 20 allergenic proteins – an allergy to cow’s milk is one of the most common food allergies in children, affecting 2-7% of babies under a year old. While many outgrow it by the age of 4 years, for some it remains a lifelong allergy.

Many children allergic to cow’s milk will also react to goat’s milk and sheep milk, or may be sensitive to soy-based products.

Milk allergy in baby should not be confused with *lactose intolerance, which occurs when baby lacks the enzyme needed to digest the milk sugar, lactose.

IMPORTANT: The information given here is meant as a guide and should not be seen as professional medical advice. If you are concerned that your baby is experiencing a reaction to any foods, consult a doctor immediately.

Symptoms Of Milk Allergy In Baby

Milk allergy in baby is sometimes misdiagnosed as colic, or a virus. Reactions vary and can appear immediately or, more commonly, up to several days after the milk is consumed.

Symptoms include:

  • blood in the stool
  • reflux
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • hives
  • wheezing
  • eczema
  • facial swelling
  • rarely, anaphylactic shock (a serious, life-threatening reaction causing swelling of the throat and usually seen immediately)

Studies suggest that an allergy to milk may also cause constipation.

A true diagnosis of milk allergy in baby can only be made by your child’s doctor or allergist.

It is important to avoid making your own diagnosis or eliminating foods from your baby’s diet without professional medical advice.


NHS UK – Causes of a Food Allergy (Milk Allergy and Intolerance)

Kids Health – About Milk Allergy

Milk Allergy In Baby – Foods To Avoid

If your baby is confirmed as having an allergy to cow’s milk, his diet will have to exclude all dairy products, including yogurt and cheese.

NOTE: It is important to discuss the dietary needs of your infant with a dietician, to be sure that he is receiving the nutrition he needs.

Check all food labels carefully and avoid any foods containing

  • cow’s milk (including condensed, evaporated, skimmed and dried) or goat’s milk
  • milk powder
  • cheese
  • creme fraiche
  • butter
  • ghee
  • margarine
  • buttermilk
  • whey
  • casein

Other foods that may contain dairy products include

  • canned fish
  • deli/processed meats
  • certain seasonings and flavourings
  • pre-mixed cereal
  • some soy products

Other ingredients derived from dairy products include

  • lactalbumin
  • lactate
  • lactic acid
  • lactoglobulin
  • lactose
  • malted milk
  • caseinate
  • potassium caseinate
  • sodium caseinate
  • acidophilus milk
  • curds
  • galactose
  • rennet

REMEMBER: If you are unsure about the ingredients a product contains, then DON’T GIVE IT TO YOUR CHILD.

If your baby has an allergy to dairy products, offer other high protein foods like chickpeas, pork or lamb, (with the consent of your child’s doctor, of course).

Milk Allergy In Baby – Can My Baby Eat Beef?

It is rare for children with an allergy to cow’s milk protein to experience any reaction to veal or beef, so – after checking with your child’s doctor – you can introduce beef at 8 months.


Lactose is the main sugar in all milk – including breastmilk. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the lactose.

Lactose intolerance is rare in babies and symptoms would generally be noticed very early on, as the baby would have problems digesting milk from birth – and would experience poor weight gain as a result.

Symptoms are similar to those of a milk allergy in baby and include

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • gas/wind
  • failure to thrive

If you suspect lactose intolerance in your child, then it’s important to seek professional medical advice.

Parents of lactose intolerant children are generally advised to avoid dairy products completely.

Sources and Useful links

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House – Lactose Intolerance

Cow’s milk allergy in baby – further information

Go Dairy Free

Support forum for parents of children with food allergies

More articles and recipes…

Introducing dairy products to baby

Baby food allergies – main page

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