Milk Allergy in Infants – Causes & Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

milk allergy in babies

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Children are usually quite fussy when it comes to drinking milk or consuming certain kinds of food that their taste buds might not find necessarily appealing.

If your child is excessively fussy when it comes to drinking milk and complains of “weird taste” or “tummy upset”, chances are that he or she might be allergic to it.

What Is Milk Allergy?

Milk allergies usually occur when the immune system fights off milk protein when it actually should not.

  • This usually causes an allergic reaction and may cause your little bundle of joy to become fussy.
  • It should be noted that if you are regular in breastfeeding your infant, they might will be less susceptible to develop a milk allergy as opposed to those that are formula fed.
  • Most milk allergies usually disappear without a trace once your child reaches the age of 3-5 years.


If you have even the faintest inkling that your infant is even mildly allergic to milk, you might want to follow these steps:

  • Call your doctor and take the tests that the doctor may prescribe just to be cautious; it could also rule out other health-related issues.
  • Take an oral challenge test under the doctor’s supervision to check if your infant truly has an allergic reaction. Sometimes, may ask to repeat this to confirm the diagnosis.
  • In addition to a stool and blood test, your infant may also have to undergo an allergy skin test where small doses of the milk protein is inserted just under the surface of your child’s skin via a needle.
  • If a weal (a raised spot) emerges, the child may be susceptible to a milk allergy.

However, it should be noted that if your infant tests positive for a milk allergy, your doctor may ask you to avoid milk totally especially if you are still breastfeeding your infant.

Difference between Lactose Intolerance And Milk Allergy:

A milk allergy is quite different from being lactose intolerant as the latter does not involve the immune system.

  • Children who are lactose intolerant are usually missing the ‘lactase’ enzyme, which helps in breaking down lactose, a sugar which is present in milk and other dairy products.
  • Therefore, lactose-intolerant infant are not able to digest milk products foods and will usually cause nausea, cramps or even diarrhea.

Symptoms Of Milk Allergy:

A milk allergy usually appears within the first few days of your infant’s life. Sometimes, it even occurs within a few days after you introduce a formula-based diet to your kid. Some major symptoms will include the following:

  • Loose stools (with the possibility of containing blood)
  • Vomiting
  • Gagging
  • Food refusal
  • Skin rashes like eczema
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling
  • Hives

In certain cases, a potentially severe allergic reaction may also take place known as anaphylaxis, which can affect your baby’s skin, breathing and blood pressure.

Red Alert!

You need to take your infant to the doctor immediately if your baby experiences the following:

  • Finds it difficult to breath.
  • Face turns a darker shade of blue.
  • Becomes extremely pale or weak.
  • Breaks out with hives.
  • Develops swelling usually in the neck or head region.
  • Experiences bloody diarrhea.

Treatment For Milk Allergy:

The doctor will recommend one or more treatments which will help combat the milk allergy experienced by your toddler:

1. Breastfeeding:

If your infant develops a milk allergy despite being breastfed, you may be asked to follow a milk-free diet yourself.

  • Try and delay feeding your baby as long as possible by following the directions of your doctor to the tee.
  • You might want to opt for calcium supplements if you have been asked to abstain from milk.

2. Formula-Fed Alternatives:

If your infant is suffering from a milk allergy, you might want to switch over to certain alternatives which provide the same nutrients as milk.

  • This includes soy or elemental formula which should be given only after consulting with your pediatrician.
  • Also, you might want to ask your doctor for recommendations like a hypoallergenic formula which will prevent allergic reactions.

For formula-fed babies, there are two main types of hypoallergenic formulas, which are:

  • Extensively hydrolyzed formulas, which have cow milk proteins which are then broken into small particles to make them less allergenic as compared to the other formulas. Most infants may be able to tolerate these formulas while some may just find it as repulsive as milk.
  • Amino acid-based infant formulas, which have in them proteins found in their simplest forms. This will be recommended if your infant’s condition does not show any signs of improvement even after switching over to a formula which is hydrolyzed.

3. Infants Over The Age Of One:

If a pediatrician suspects milk allergy, he will first try eliminating milk for a certain period of time to check for improvements before going ahead and prescribing an effective solution.

  • If a milk allergy is detected, your child will first be given milk in small doses, which will be incorporated in her diet.
  • This will reveal whether the symptoms have decreased or have disappeared when milk is stopped or may reappear when it is introduced in the diet again.


There are certain precautions which you should take when administering milk to your infant to avoid an eventuality:

  • Formulas which are partially hydrolyzed are also unsafe because they still have the allergy-causing proteins, unlike the extensively hydrolyzed formulas, where the protein is completely removed (1).
  • It is also recommended that you avoid giving your infant Goat’s milk, rice milk, or even almond milks. These varieties are not safe for consumption especially for infants.
  • If you take the extra step of switching your baby to another formula, the allergy should disappear in about 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Your child’s pediatrician may also ask you to continue with a hypoallergenic formula till your infant celebrates his first birthday. After which, you will be advised to gradually introduce cow’s milk into the diet to test if he/she is accepting it.

We hope that the information we have provided equips you to deal with milk allergies that your infant may be susceptible to during their nascent stages. If you have added concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us using the form below.

References : 2


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