For babies under the age of 12 months, breastmilk is meant to be the main source of nutrition. After 6-8 months, you can introduce solid foods after consulting with the doctor about it. You can also introduce cow’s milk at this stage. Some babies may develop either an allergy or an intolerance towards cow’s milk.
An allergy is caused when the baby’s immune system to react to the proteins present in milk. An intolerance is when the body is unable to deal with certain substances in the milk. Lactose intolerance is the most common form where the body is unable to produce enough lactase to break down the lactose in milk.
The symptoms for both of them are quite similar which is why it would become little difficult to differentiate between the two. Symptoms for both include stomach pain, bloating, nausea, gas and diarrhoea. They would also become increasingly fussy about drinking milk. For an allergy, these symptoms may be accompanied by swollen lips, throat or neck and even skin rashes. The baby may even have trouble breathing in some cases.
If your baby shows any of the following symptoms, rush them to the hospital immediately -
1. Face turns blue.
2. Skin breaks out in hives.
3. Swelling in neck or head.
4. Bloody diarrhoea.
5. Difficulty breathing.
But either way, you should cut down on dairy or completely avoid dairy. With intolerance, a small amount of dairy can be consumed every day but in the case of an allergy, it is best to completely avoid consuming dairy. In case of intolerance, your baby will still be able to consume dairy products like yoghurt/curd and cheese since they have a lower lactose content than milk. If your baby is suffering from either of these, you can resort to giving them spinach, almonds, and drumstick leaves to make up for it.
Formula Fed Babies
If your baby is being formula fed, you might want to ask your doctor for a formula that has a hypoallergenic formula. You should ask your doctor what other options you can use instead of cow’s milk to prepare the formula feed. For infants, it is better to avoid goat’s milk, almond milk, etc unless recommended by a doctor, and in limited amounts.
For breastfed infants, the mother may have to avoid consuming dairy products right before the feeding. The doctor may even advice against the consumption of dairy at least until the baby is off breastmilk. Till then, the mother may have to consume calcium supplements to make up for the calcium she is missing out on.
Babies Older Than 12 Months
For babies older than 12 months, the doctor may ask to eliminate milk for some time just to evaluate the situation. It will then be introduced again in small amounts to see if there is any change between the time they were to avoid milk and when it was reintroduced.