Before we talk about milk allergy symptoms in babies, let’s talk about what exactly a milk allergy in babies is.
A milk allergy is a baby’s overreaction to the proteins found in cow’s milk. It is often called MPI (Milk Protein Intolerance) or MSPI (Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance).
It is not lactose intolerance and most (but not all) children outgrow it.
I’ve talked before on my blog about my experience with both of my children, who both had a milk allergy. I was breastfeeding which means that I had to completely eliminate any and all cow’s milk and soy proteins from my diet.
Related: The MSPI Baby- A Beginner’s Guide
If you’re here, you probably have a baby who is extra fussy. What’s difficult is that babies ARE fussy. It’s their only way to communicate with us!
The difficulty is determining whether our baby’s fussiness is normal or if it is caused by something that can be changed or prevented.
I wrote a whole post on various causes of a fussy breastfed baby. I highly recommend that you go and read it, and then read this post too.
This post contains affiliate links.
Because unfortunately, a milk allergy can be difficult to diagnose unless your baby has one of the really obvious signs of milk intolerance or milk protein allergy symptoms.
It is said that only 2-3 percent of babies have true baby food allergy symptoms.
However, I know a LOT of moms personally who have eliminated dairy from their diets. I did it for both of my babies.
I believe that it may be more common than the medical community believes.
Whatever it may be, I hope that this resource helps you to determine whether or not your baby’s issues are caused by dairy.
Signs of milk allergy in baby
There are many symptoms of milk allergy in infants, and the time frame for when these symptoms appear will vary. For a formula fed baby, adverse reactions can happen within minutes. Signs of a milk allergy in a breastfed baby will likely show up 4-24 hours after exposure. However, if the breastfeeding mom consumes dairy frequently, the symptoms will likely be ongoing.
MSPI symptoms/Milk Allergy Symptoms
Your baby may have a more severe case of eczema, dry skin, diaper rash, rashes, hives and/or swelling.
Your baby may have reflux, which is often associated with a milk allergy. While all babies have some form of reflux, a more severe type of reflux includes frequent spitting up, forceful vomiting, choking and/or gagging, arching during a feed, discomfort after a feed and difficulty gaining weight.
Your baby might also be excessively gassy, might have green, mucousy stools and/or blood in stool.
Blood in stool is the biggest indicator of a milk allergy, but there are other causes. Read more about Causes For Blood In Baby Poop.
Your baby may also have either diarrhea or constipation.
The MSPI baby might have frequent cold symptoms, a persistent cough, frequent ear infections, wheezing or asthma.
Difficulty Gaining Weight
Because your baby is not digesting breast milk or formula properly, and because the mere act of eating causes pain, your baby might be slow to gain weight or might have difficulty gaining weight.
Colic is essentially a term that doctors label babies with when the cause for severe crying is undetermined. In some cases, the cause for this colicky behavior could be a milk allergy.
Treatment For Milk Allergy In Babies
If breastfeeding, you will need to completely eliminate all forms of dairy and hidden dairy (casein, whey, etc) from your diet. You may also need to eliminate soy proteins from your diet as well, as up to 50% of babies that are intolerant to milk proteins are also intolerant to soy proteins.
My Complete Guide To Breastfeeding The Baby With MSPI can help you make this big change easily.
If you are breastfeeding long term, it is possible that you will be able to reintroduce dairy into your diet before weaning.
If your baby is formula fed, there are two options. The first is a hydrolyzed formula (such as Nutramigen or Alimentum) which includes cow’s milk proteins, but in a much more broken down form, making it easier to tolerate. Babies who are unable to tolerate hydrolyzed formulas have to be given an amino-acid based formula (such as Neocate, PurAmino or Elecare).
When Do Babies Outgrow Milk Protein Allergy
Most experts will suggest waiting until milk has been completely avoided for at least 6 months before trying to reintroduce it.
Most babies will outgrow a milk protein sensitivity between the ages of 6-18 months.