Update: My daughter is now one year old and she can tolerate cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other milk products. She, like many others, outgrew the milk protein allergy called infant proctolitis. Hope the following information is useful for moms who have discovered milk protein allergy in their babies.
My daughter has a milk protein allergy, which means her intestines can’t process cow’s milk in my breastmilk. She was very irritable at night, waking up screaming, and she started pooping way more than normal. Her poop was a sort of green sludge, mucousy and tinged with bright red blood.
If you recognize these symptoms in your own baby and you are breastfeeding, the best treatment is an elimination diet where you cut out all milk products and possibly soy too since a high percentage of babies with a milk allergy also react to soy.
Your pediatrician can help you navigate through this and confirm if your baby has a milk protein allergy.
If you want to dig into the medical research, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has a great resource that talks about Allergic Proctocolitis in Exclusively Breastfed Babies
(View PDF Version, 133K)
Please Note: This blog is intended as a summary of helpful tips for moms exclusively breastfeeding their babies with Infant Proctocolitis (milk protein allergy) and is not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
Summary of Helpful Resources
- Allergic Proctocolitis in Exclusively Breastfed Babies (PDF Version, 133K)
- Infant Proctocolitis: Elimination Diets
- Hidden Dairy Cheat Sheet
- Kelly Mom: Dairy and Other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies
- What I Wish I’d Done Differently During My Son’s First Year
What Can You Do When You’re Avoiding Milk and Soy?
If you are in the same situation, think of it as going back to basics. Cook at home a lot because you know exactly what you are consuming.
Food you can make at home or buy at your local grocery store:
- Oatmeal with Berries
- Peanut Butter Banana Granola Flatbread with Honey Drizzle
- Egg Omelet with Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, & Ham
- Vegetables Stir-Fried with Coconut Oil
- Baked Fish
- Coconut Milk Ice Cream
My cousin Jessica also has great dairy- and soy-free ideas for eating at home.
Cook with Butter Substitute and Buy Dairy and Soy-Free
Earth Balance soy free butter sticks are dairy- and soy-free. Find them at Wegmans, Whole Foods and other stores.
I was able to whip up a Thanksgiving meal on the fly with Earth Balance butter, butternut squash, sausage, apples and stuffing mix. Really yummy!
Daiya makes dairy-free cheese, pizza, lasagna, cheesecake, and a whole bunch of products.
Talk with Your Doctor about Getting Enough Calcium and Vitamin D
Because you are avoiding dairy, you need to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and Vitamin D in your diet.
It may be beneficial to see a nutrition specialist who can walk you through what a balanced diet would look like. You may need to take a calcium supplement, so check with your doctor first before starting one.
Your baby will be taking calcium from your bones through breastfeeding if you do not consume enough of this vital nutrient.
You can also find calcium in these foods:
- Calcium–Fortified Almond Milk
- Bok Choy
Check labels constantly, because even trace amounts of milk or soy can cause a reaction.
If you eat at a restaurant or get takeout, call ahead and ask whether there is milk or soy in the dish.
A website called Infant Proctocolitis: Elimination Diets is incredibly helpful because it has a thorough list of milk and soy products that you shouldn’t eat while breastfeeding, along with other advice and recipies.
There is also a small Hidden Dairy Cheat Sheet online that you can print out to remind yourself of the dairy that you should avoid eating.
Eliminate milk and soy from your diet and there is a chance your child may outgrow the allergy by one year and be less likely to have the allergy as an adult.
Remember that this whole dairy and soy-free phase may pass.
I read a personal story on What to Expect from a mom going through the same chaos of a restricted diet, and she desperately tried everything to help her infant son.
Nothing worked, and she went through an exhausting process of special formula and restricted diet. Then one day she looked up and he was one year old, able to drink milk from a container without a reaction.
So remember that although it will be hard going through this for the next few months that you are breastfeeding, it is possible that your child will be able to eat dairy when they are one year old.
My pediatrician assured me because most children grow out of this phase and are able to drink milk by 12 months.
Of course, that is not the case with everyone and you should check with your pediatrician based on your baby’s symptoms.
Your pediatrician may need to refer you to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, a specialist doctor who treats digestive tract issues in children.