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Your Breastfed Baby Has a ‘Dairy Allergy,’ Now What?

YOUR BABY’S “DAIRY ALLERGY” DOESN’T HAVE TO END YOUR BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY.

By: Lauren Wellbank

If you’ve just been informed that your breastfed baby has a Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) you may be feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the news that you need to cut dairy from your diet. News that your baby is suffering from a “dairy allergy” can be especially frustrating if you just got back into the swing of dining (mostly) restriction free. And while we’re not going to lie, cutting dairy from your diet requires diligence (hidden dairy is in everything), it doesn’t have to be hard. Between using dairy alternatives, trying new ways to satisfy your pizza cravings, and relying on supplements to bridge the nutritional gap, cutting dairy can be the best way to continue your breastfeeding journey when your baby suffers from a MSPI. 

WHAT IS A ‘DAIRY ALLERGY’ IN BABIES?

Infants who are breastfed and found to be sensitive to the dairy or soy that is passed into the mother’s milk from the foods mom eats are sensitive to specific milk antibodies that appear in the form of proteins, not lactose, according to Registered Dietitian Kari Pitts. “The milk proteins (casein and whey) and soy protein trigger the digestive system response that produces gastrointestinal distress.” Your baby’s food intolerance is a result of their inability to breakdown that protein which can result in anything from stomach upset to failure to gain weight. 

MAKING UP FOR MISSING DAIRY

The best way to help your baby is by cutting all forms of dairy from your diet. But, if you relied on dairy as your primary source of calcium, vitamin D, or protein you’ll need to find a way to make those nutrients up using alternative food sources. “Some foods that provide protein also provide calcium like beans and almonds,” explains Pitts. “Plant based milks (like almond milk) are typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D.” You should also ask your doctor if you need to add supplements or vitamins to your diet to help maintain your levels of calcium and vitamin D. 

FAUX REAL, DAIRY ALTERNATIVES AREN’T THAT BAD

There are plenty of alternatives to dairy on the market, and some of them are almost as good as the real thing. “You can find cheese dips made with cashews or yogurt and ice cream made with almond milk,” says Pitts. “Healthy whole food choices should still be the primary source of your nutritional intake.” Which means you should still be adding plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet before reaching for the almond milk ice cream.  

EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS

There are plenty of premade dairy-free options in the store, but you may want to use this as an opportunity to expand your horizons and try new meals instead. For example, consider replacing a frozen pizza (which is likely full of sodium and preservatives) with a homemade version that calls for alternatives to the traditional pizza formula. You can make a veggie pizza using bell peppers, red onions, dairy-free crust, strawberries, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette as “sauce.” If it’s chocolate that you crave, you can try our dairy-free recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Java Belly Bites. We promise your sweet tooth won’t even notice there’s no dairy!  

A NOTE ON BREASTFEEDING THROUGH MSPI

While this information is all geared towards helping you continue your breastfeeding journey, there are instances when your physical or mental health doesn’t benefit from continued nursing. If you’ve discovered that the added complications of MSPI in your baby is impacting your physical or mental health there are dairy free formula options available. A good mama is a happy mama. 

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