DOES MY BABY HAVE A MILK ALLERGY?

Looking after a new baby is exhausting, overwhelming and worrying. When you are concerned your baby may have a milk allergy, it can be difficult to know what to do. There is so much conflicting information and often symptoms can be confused with other things.

I have been there, twice. I have had two babies with cow’s milk protein allergy and struggled to find the information and support I needed. It’s why I wrote my book Living With Allergies.

Here is some information to help you understand more about whether your baby has one.

WHAT IS A COW’S MILK PROTETIN ALLERGY (CMPA)?
Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is when your baby’s immune system mistakenly sees milk as an invader and tries to fight it, causing a range of symptoms. There are two different types: immediate reactions and delayed reactions.

IMMEDIATE MILK ALLERGY SYMPTOMS (IGE MEDIATED ALLERGIES)
One of the first symptoms many parents notice in immediate milk allergies is that your baby has a rash after feeding. This is called hives and is usually on the face or neck and will be raised and red. The will likely be very unsettled as well. Other symptoms include coughing, wheezing, vomiting or swelling. These symptoms are usually worse in formula fed babies.

DELAYED MILK ALLERGY SYMPTOMS (NON-IGE ALLERGIES)
If your baby has a delayed milk allergy then symptoms may not show up for 72 hours and can be harder to spot. They may include upset stomach, reflux, vomiting, runny nappies, poor sleep, blood in stools or eczema.

CAN A BABY HAVE A MILK ALLERGY WHEN BREASTFEEDING?
Yes, it is possible for your baby to react to cow’s milk protein in your breastmilk.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BABY IS REACTING TO MILK?
A lot of the symptoms can be confused with reflux, colic or other common ailments. If you suspect your baby has an allergy, you need to cut all milk from their diet to see if their symptoms improve. If you are breastfeeding, you will need to avoid eating all dairy products. Talk to your doctor or health visitor about doing this. If you are using formula, you will need to trial a dairy free one.