If your child is allergic to cow’s milk protein, knowing what to expect and how to manage the food allergy when it’s time to start weaning.
Weaning and beyond
Speak to your doctor before you start weaning your infant, as you may be advised to see a dietitian to help you through this process. You’ll need to avoid all cow’s milk protein.
As you start weaning, your child’s healthcare professional may advise you to add breast milk or hypoallergenic formula designed for babies with cow’s milk allergy to your infant’s solid foods to increase their nutritional value.
Some hypoallergenic formulas designed for babies with cow’s milk allergy have a second-stage formula that’s specifically formulated for older babies and toddlers who are older than 9 months as they have nutrients that growing babies need, like calcium, as part of a varied diet.
When your toddler has been on a cow’s milk protein-free diet for some time and is at least 9–12 months old, your doctor may request an oral food challenge to see if they have grown out of the cow’s milk allergy. This is the same as the food challenge done at diagnosis.
Infant formulas based on soy “milk” should only be used as recommended by a healthcare professional if your child does NOT also have a soy protein allergy (i.e. if he or she has tested negative for soy allergy) or if you want a formula more suitable for a vegetarian diet after discussion with your family doctor or a specialist.
Check with your child’s dietitian or doctor about using other milk substitutes; the recommendation may depend on your child’s nutritional status. Try to always choose a brand that is fortified with calcium where possible. If the product is not fortified with calcium, it is important to talk to your child’s dietitian or doctor about a calcium supplement.
Most babies grow out of cow’s milk allergy and can return to a normal diet, consuming cow’s milk without allergic reactions.
Although cow’s milk allergy is the most common food allergy in under 3 year olds, the good news is that more than three-quarters of babies with cow’s milk allergy grow out of it later on in early childhood. When a baby has grown out of cow’s milk allergy they can consume cow’s milk without allergic reactions — in other words, they can return to a normal diet.
Most babies with cow’s milk allergy will be able to consume cow’s milk without allergic reactions by the time they reach 3–5 years of age.
“It may not be the end of eating normally. My son eventually outgrew most aspects of it and can now eat dairy.”
Mom of a child with CMA
If your baby is diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy, a healthcare professional will advise you when and how to test whether they have started to grow out of their allergy. In the meantime, suitable dietary changes would be advised by a healthcare professional to manage the allergy.
For those who continue to have this food allergy, it’s important to speak to the teachers at school, so they can help to ensure that your child avoids cow’s milk protein-containing products at school.