Alternatives to cow milk for babies

Alternatives to cow's milk for babies in case of lactose intolerance or cow's milk allergy

May 23, 2018

Some babies have problems consuming formulas based on cow's milk and need an alternative. Mainly the problems are caused by two different issues: either the baby has a milk allergy or it suffers from a lactose intolerance.

The first one is a response of the immune system; a cow milk protein allergy exists, if the immune system of your baby reacts to the proteins in milk. That can either be the casein protein, the whey protein or both.

The second one is a sensitive condition caused by the lack of a certain enzyme. Lactose intolerance means that your baby has difficulties to digest lactose due the lack of the enzyme lactase. Lactase is needed to break down the natural sugar found in milk, lactose. In the most of the cases a lactose intolerance becomes apparent after your baby has a tummy bug.

Cow's milk alternativesBoth cow's milk allergy and lactose intolerance cause similar health problems, like digestive problems, diarrhea, constipation, eczema etc. That's why it is the best for you to go to your pediatrician to find out what your baby is suffering from.

The nutrition in baby infant formula that is most essential can be broken down into protein, calcium, fat (fatty acids), vitamins and minerals. The spectrum of milk alternatives for babies and toddlers who have problems with cow's milk ranges from plant-based milks to milks from other animals and special formulas.

 

PLANT-BASED BABY FORMULAS

Plant-based baby formulas come for instance from nuts, almonds, rice or soy and coconut, and in general, it is to say that they do not meet the required amount of nutritional content for being an alternative to cow milk formula.

  • Rice milk is made with water, rice, oil and salt. Compared to cow's milk, rice milk has less protein and calcium and provides besides that way too little fat and that is why it is not recommendable to babies younger than 2 years as a replacement. Also the vitamins are added afterwards.
  • Coconut milk has, compared to the huge amount of calories, too little nutritional value (e. g. calcium) for your baby. Your little one might feel full quite fast but will not intake sufficient nutrition.
  • Soy based formula as well does not provide the amount of (natural) calcium, fats and protein you need to feed your baby (compared to what you can find in cow's milk) but it is added. Soy milk-based infant formula is a quite common alternative but we strongly recommend only using it as last remedy. Soy contains phytoestrogens which are known to cause hormonal and endocrine changes, the effects of which are not fully understand but generally recommended against.

 

GOAT MILK

Animal milk-based formulas are based on milk harvested from goats, sheep, horses, camels.

Goat milk is very similar to cow milk, but it has less vitamins ( for instance no folic acid) and minerals such as iron. Generally you can use pasteurized goat milk as a replacement for cow milk. Keep in mind that, if your baby reacts allergic to the protein in cow milk, it will have problems with the protein in goat or sheep milk as well. Read more about goat's milk as an alternative to cow's milk for babies.

Other animals milk doesn't have at all the desired composition and should not be considered as a replacement.

 

HYPOALLERGENIC FORMULAS

In the end, we suggest you talk to your doctor first before changing formula.
If your baby has an allergy or intolerance get your baby checked from your pediatrician. He or a dietitian can help giving you advice on how to provide your baby with the needed protein, calcium and fat that is needed for your baby in their respective phase of life. He might suggest giving your baby a special hypoallergenic formula. Hypoallergenic formulas utilize protein hydrolysis to break down milk proteins which makes it easier for babies to digest.

Overall, if cow’s milk formula does not work, then we recommend trying Goat’s milk formula. If that still does not work, then you should try one of the Hypoallergenic formulas.

Have questions or need advice? Feel free to reach out to us any time!



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