Cow’s milk protein allergy is the most common allergy I see as a paediatric dietitian, and it can be very distressing for babies and their families at an already stressful time.

Cow’s milk is not the same as a lactose intolerance as it involves the protein rather than the sugar in cow’s milk.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history
  • Eczema/ asthma
  • Prematurity
  • C-section delivery
  • Formula feeding

Signs and symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea/ constipation/ blood or mucus in stool
  • Vomiting/ reflux
  • Skin rash/ hives/ eczema
  • Extreme fussiness/ colic/ unsettled
  • Feeding difficulties/ poor weight gain
  • Gas/ bloating
  • Wheezing/ coughing

Some babies may experience just one, or many of the signs and symptoms listed above, and the severity of symptoms can vary. If you are worried that your baby has any of these symptoms seek help from a qualified professional.

In order to confirm and treat a milk allergy you, should speak to a dietitian or a doctor, ideally one who has specialist experience such as a paediatric dietitian or paediatrician. Medical professionals who are not specifically trained in children may give inaccurate advice on cow’s milk allergy, which may result in less effective treatment


  • Speak to your health visitor/ dietitian/ GP
  • Breast feeders can adopt a milk free diet
  • Prescribed formula
  • Milk free weaning
  • Milk ladder
  • Every child is individual, and their response to milk allergy/ treatment will differ, which is why seeking individualised and tailored advice is important
  • Milk free diets should be followed with support to ensure nutritional adequacy, and the healthy growth of your baby
  • The milk ladder involves gradual reintroduction of milk proteins, and should be guided by a qualified professional

If you think your child might have a cow’s milk allergy, or you would like support following a diagnosis please get in touch