A toddler with a milk sensitivity cannot tolerate the proteins in milk, so his diet should be free of these compounds. Limiting dairy isn't easy, though, and toddlers who need to avoid milk products might be at risk for nutrient deficiencies if they don't consume replacement foods. Understanding the foods your toddler should eat more of as well as those he should avoid can help you plan a milk sensitivity diet that keeps him both healthy and happy.
A milk sensitivity develops when your toddler's immune system reacts to the proteins present in cow's milk. This reaction can be to either of the two major cow's milk proteins, casein or whey. Unlike a lactose intolerance, which involves a gradual loss of the enzyme needed to digest milk sugar, a milk sensitivity can cause an extreme allergic reaction in some children. In most cases, however, milk sensitivity shows up as an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, a red rash around the mouth or anus, runny nose or eye irritation.
One of the biggest concerns in a milk sensitivity diet is getting enough calcium into the toddler. Milk and dairy products made from milk are a major source of calcium for most young children, so limiting these foods can lead to a deficiency. Calcium is important for the formation and growth of bones, teeth and muscle. Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 need about 500 mg of calcium a day. Another nutrient of concern on a milk-free diet is vitamin D. A toddler needs about 400 IU of vitamin D per day.
Foods to Avoid
The foods you need to keep away from your milk-sensitive toddler depend on the degree of her allergy. Some toddlers need all sources of milk protein removed from the diet. Others can tolerate small amounts of yogurt, cheese or ice cream but can't stomach a glass of milk. If your child is extremely sensitive, you will need to look at product labels for the presence of milk, milk products, casein or whey. Breads, cakes, cookies, sauces, prepared meals and candies can all contain milk proteins that could cause a reaction.
Foods to Enjoy
A toddler with a milk sensitivity might be able to enjoy calcium-fortified cereals, orange juice, soy milk, rice milk or tofu. These foods might also provide vitamin D. Canned salmon with soft, mashable bones is another source of calcium and vitamin D for your allergic toddler. Beans, oranges and leafy green vegetables also supply calcium to meet your growing toddler's needs. If you are continuing to breastfeed into toddlerhood, breast milk can provide some of the calcium your child needs as well. Human breast milk does not contain the same proteins as cow's milk so an allergic toddler can safely continue to breastfeed up until the mother and child decide to stop.