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Does Your Child Have a Hidden Dairy Intolerance?

Does Your Child Have a Hidden Dairy Intolerance? at
source: Amy Green

Since conception, I’ve prayed that my kids wouldn’t have the same struggles with food that I do. Not that life, and food for that matter, can’t be fully enjoyable on a restricted diet. But, it’s something I would have preferred pass over them.

Because I have a problem with wheat, we elected to keep our boys gluten-free until they were at least 18 months at which point their guts are more developed and have the appropriate enzymes to digest wheat. We hadn’t considered dairy, though.

I had dairy issues as a kid. My parents said I grew out of it, but as an adult I needed to take Lactaid to digest diary with no digestive consequences. After the birth of my first son, Nate, my body changed. Now I can’t eat dairy without severe stomach and digestive issues showing up within 20 minutes of ingestion. In fact, I’ve discovered that I need to be completely casein free.

Nate didn’t present with classical dairy intolerance issues. He didn’t have diarrhea or a rash on his trunk. He was, though, a consistently poor eater and a horrible sleeper. Because I have never been able to make enough breast milk to breastfeed exclusively, I’ve had to supplement with formula to ensure my kids were getting adequate calories and nutrition. Nate’s formula was dairy-based. At 8 months old he caught an ugly case of rotovirus and our pediatrician switched him to a dairy-free formula to help heal his gut.

He immediately started eating and sleeping better. We knew the culprit was dairy. He’s been dairy-free ever since.

Luke, now just 3 weeks old, had much more obvious signs that dairy was a problem for him. He was high-risk jaundice at just 24 hours old. To help push the bilirubin out of his system quickly, our pediatrician added a small amount of formula to his diet while we were still in the hospital. And, with my low breast milk levels we continued supplementation once we were home. Within three days, Luke had horrible diarrhea. We changed to a dairy-free formula and the problem disappeared. Luke is now dairy-free, too.

Other signs that your child may have a dairy intolerance or allergy:

  • hives, wheezing, or or abdominal pain after eating dairy
  • gas and bloating
  • though rare, some experience anaphylaxis
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • slow weight gain

Switching to a dairy-free diet can be simple. For simple-to-implement recipe substitutions, use this guide. Go Dairy-Free is also a comprehensive guide to living well on dairy-free diet.

For another perspective on what a dairy-free journey with children can look like, check out this post.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. It is an account of my personal experiences with dairy-intolerance. If you suspect that you or your child could benefit from a dairy-free diet consult a trusted medical professional.

Have you ever suspected or found a food issue with one of your children? If so, what was your experience?

A stay-at-home mom, wife, and passionate cook, Amy strives to make each meal healthy and delicious. When she’s not doing laundry, dishes, or caring for her son, she plays around with food in the kitchen developing new recipes, which she shares at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Amy also publishes The Balanced Platter and authored the book Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free: 180 Easy & Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less.