So your little one has a cow’s milk protein allergy diagnosis, so what should you give them instead?
Firstly if your child has multiple allergies you should speak to a dietitian about appropriate alternatives.
Before the age of 12 months an infants main drink should be breast milk or infant formula. If your child has cow’s milk allergy you should have been guided to adopt a milk free diet if breast feeding, or have been prescribed an appropriate infant formula.
Other animal milks such as goat or sheep’s milk are NOT a recommended alternative to cow’s milk in cow’s milk allergy, as these proteins usually cause the same allergic reactions due to their structures being so similar.
Plant based milks are usually recommended as an alternative after 6 months of age IN FOOD e.g. for use in home cooked family meals such as mash or cheese sauce, or as a drink after 12 months of age, providing the weaning diet is nutritionally adequate.
Other plant based milk alternatives such as yoghurts, cheese, butter and cream can be introduced into the weaning diet after 6 months of age. You won’t often find plant based products like these that are aimed at children like their cows milk versions e.g. petit filous, munch bunch, babybel, dairylea, but all are fine to give, providing your child is not allergic to any of the ingredients.
Not all plant based alternatives are equal, fortification matters! Calcium is important for the healthy growth of bones and teeth, and iodine is important for the thyroid hormones involved in growth, metabolism and brain development. Animal milk products are a good source of these nutrients, and therefore cow’s milk allergy and modified diets can lead to deficiency of these. Calcium fortification isn’t mandatory leaving some plant based milk products with no or low levels of Calcium and Iodine. Calories, fat and protein are also important for healthy growth and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, so it’s a good idea to compare these too.
Reading labels is key when it comes to choosing a plant based milk alternative for a growing child.
For more information on allergies please get in touch.