Mother and Baby

Baby Food Allergy Experts Answer Your Questions

Section: Meals & Baking

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with dietician Sasha Watkins and celeb mum Jennifer Ellison? Don’t worry, you can read all of the expert advice they shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert.

This week, celeb mum Jennifer Ellison, whose children had cow’s milk allergies, and dietian Sasha Watkins were on hand to answer your questions.

Both Sasha and Jennifer are supporting a new cow’s milk allergy awareness campaign, Is It Cow’s Milk Allergy, created by Mead Johnson Nutrition in partnership with Allergy UK, to help parents recognise the potential signs and symptoms of cow’s milk allergy (CMA). Jennifer’s two boys both had cow’s milk allergy when they were babies.


If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

My baby is lactose intolerant and coming up to six months old now. When should I try to introduce any milk products to try, e.g. cheese?  Or should I completely avoid it?

Sasha: Have you been to see your GP or a health care professional to confirm the diagnosis of lactose intolerance? It's important to know whether it is lactose intolerance or cow's milk allergy as the management of the two conditions is very different. Here is a useful link to help you.

I suffer from a dairy intolerance, does this mean my children will as well?

Sasha: There is a genetic component to food allergies. A child is more likely to develop a food allergy if they have a parent with hay fever, a food allergy or asthma and even more likely to develop a food allergy if both parents have a history of allergies.

My little girl had tests as a baby as she suffered from constipation, which showed slight allergens to cow’s milk. I now give her goat’s milk and she's never noticed the difference and her tummy is less bloated on it. I don’t think parents are aware or know the signs to look out for. I feel more milk choices should be introduced to playgroup/school for children that are allergic but this is something the schools have never looked at. Do you agree this should be promoted in playgroup schools more?

Sasha: I agree that more allergy awareness is needed. Have you been to see your GP about your daughter's cow's milk allergy and discussed the test results? I am pleased your daughter is feeling better, however, I would not recommend goat's milk if your daughter does have a cow's milk allergy as she is very likely to be allergic to the proteins in other mammalian milks such as goat's milk as well.


When cutting out dairy due to allergies, what are the best alternatives to give to kids? Bear in mind that my son is unlikely to eat kale, beans and sardines! Should he be taking a supplement just in case? Is there one you would recommend?

Sasha: Cow’s milk is an important source of calcium in our diet and we need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Here are a few suggestions of how to boost calcium intake from non-dairy foods (assuming no other allergies);
• Buy breakfast cereals that are milk free but fortified with calcium. 

• A glass of calcium enriched orange juice (125ml) may have up to 150mg.

• Tinned fish such as sardines, pilchards, salmon can have more than 60mg in ½ a tin

• A small tin of baked beans (220g) contains 180mg of calcium.

• If your child is able to eat soya, then let them try a pot of soya yoghurt (125g) for dessert as it contains 125mg of calcium.

• Some bread is calcium enriched so try to choose one of these (ensuring it’s a milk free bread).

•A dried fig may contain more than 50mg calcium and it counts towards your five-a-day.

If you are worried that your child is not getting enough calcium in his diet, and won't eat any of the foods above, please speak to a dietician to suggest other suitable alternatives. You should be able to get all the calcium you need from a varied and balanced diet, but in some cases your dietician may advise that your child needs to take a supplement.


Hi Jennifer. When did you find out your sons were allergic to cow's milk and how were the tests done?

Jennifer: Hi Sophie, we first noticed symptoms with Bobby, my first, when we made the transition from breast to bottle-feeding. He went from being a very happy content baby to crying constantly, upset tummy, vomiting, and a rash around his mouth. Initially I thought that it was just the change from breast to bottle and tried to carry on. It was only when the symptoms persisted and started to get worse that I thought about seeking advice from my GP.

We went along to my GP and explained Bobby's symptoms and family history and he suggested a simple allergy skin test. We did this and the results came back confirming CMA which to be honest was a relief as it made me realise that it was not something that my husband or I were doing. Once the right formula was prescribed the change was pretty instant and unbelievable.

Does it mean if one child has an allergy that the sibling will too?

Sasha: We do know that there is a genetic component to allergies i.e. if a parent or child has an allergy then a sibling may be more likely to develop an allergy. However, not all siblings do develop allergies.

What meals/snacks/drinks do your sons love that don't have any cow's milk in them? I need some more ideas for my daughter and it's difficult on play dates.

Jennifer: Bobby has in fact grown out of his allergy however we tend to snack on less acidic fruit, bananas, apples are always great!

Sasha: Here are some more ideas for cow’s milk free snacks:

• Cucumber or pepper sticks to dip into hummus (assuming no sesame allergies)

• Homemade popcorn

• Ready salted crisps or snacks that are cow's milk-free

• Chopped fruit

• Cow's milk free finger sandwiches (e.g ham, milk-free cheese)

• Rice or corn cakes

• Marshmallows (if your child is not allergic to egg)

What topics would you like covered in the Wednesday Lunch Club? Let us know in the comments box below.


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