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Alternatives to Cow's Milk for an Allergic 1-Year-Old

author image Erica Kannall
Erica Kannall is a registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked in clinical nutrition, community health, fitness, health coaching, counseling and food service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in clinical dietetics and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.
Alternatives to Cow's Milk for an Allergic 1-Year-Old
Use fortified soy milk in place of cow's milk. Photo Credit: 3dsguru/iStock/Getty Images

Cow's milk allergy is the most common food allergy in infants and children, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Symptoms of a milk allergy include skin irritation such as itching, hives and eczema, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness. The only treatment for this food allergy is to completely eliminate cow's milk from your 1-year-old's diet. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives to cow's milk.

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Soy Milk

Even though milk from cows is off limits for your 1-year-old child, there are plenty of non-dairy milks available in grocery stores. Soy milk, a beverage made from combining ground soy beans and water, is a widely used alternative to cow's milk. Soy milk contains close to the same number of calories, protein and fat as reduced fat cow's milk. However, soy milk does not naturally contain the same amount of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin A as cow's milk. In order to ensure your child is getting enough of these essential nutrients, look for fortified soy milk. Also, avoid flavored soy milk or those with added sugar to limit your child's daily sugar intake. Yogurt, cheese and sour cream products made from soy milk are also available.

Rice, Almond and Coconut Milks

Some children have more than one food allergy. If your 1-year-old is allergic to cow's milk and soy, there are still plenty of other options for fluid milk. Health food stores carry milks made from a variety of grains and nuts. Rice milk, almond milk, cashew nut milk, oat milk, hemp milk and coconut milk are all usually soy-free and dairy-free. These different milks range in calorie, protein and fat content. As with soy milk, it's important to select varieties that have been fortified with vitamins and minerals and that contain little added sugar. You can use any of these milks in place of cow's milk in recipes when cooking or baking at home, as well.

Goat Milk

Goat’s milk may or may not be a safe alternative for your child, according to Cleveland Clinic Children's. Many people with lactose intolerance, an inability to digest the sugar lactose, can have goat milk with no adverse effects. However, a milk allergy is more severe and occurs when the immune system mounts a reaction to the protein found in milk. Other mammal milks, such as goat and sheep, contain a similar protein to cow's milk. Some people with a cow milk allergy may be able to drink goat milk while others cannot. Check with your health care provider before giving your 1-year-old child goat milk.

Avoiding Milk in Foods

In addition to avoiding fluid milk, your child should not consume any food that contains milk or milk derivatives as an ingredient. Read the ingredient list of all foods to check for dairy products. Avoid all foods that contain milk, butter, casein, cheese, cream, curds, whey, lactalbumin, lactose, sour cream and yogurt. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also requires companies to label milk on packages. Look for the statement "Contains Milk" at the end of the ingredient list or for the word milk in parenthesis following an ingredient. Also, communicate clearly with waitstaff or hosts when eating out of the home with your 1-year-old to avoid milk ingestion.

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