Having an allergy to cow’s milk is common in children – it affects about 1 in 50 babies, although most children grow out of it by the time they are 5. A cow’s milk protein allergy can be mild or severe, with symptoms ranging from a rash, swelling on the
face, diarrhoea through to severe anaphylaxis.
Speak to your doctor if you think your child may have an allergy to cow’s milk or any other food so that a proper diagnosis is made.
If your child has been diagnosed with a cow’s milk allergy, it is really important to follow advice from your doctor on eliminating cow’s milk protein from your child’s diet. This can be tricky because cow’s milk protein can be present in a surprising number of foods. Most children who are allergic to cow’s milk will also be allergic to milk from other animals, such as goats and sheep.
Eliminating foods that contain cow’s milk protein can make it difﬁcult to ensure children are getting all the key nutrients they need, like calcium, so that they avoid calcium deﬁciency. Calcium is not only important for strengthening teeth and bones, it is also needed by other parts of the body such as muscles and nerves.
From 6 months of age, children who can’t consume cow’s milk or eat foods containing cow’s milk protein (such as yoghurt and cheese) need alternate sources of calcium and protein in their diets. This is to make sure they have adequate nutrition and healthy growth. Although calcium is found predominantly in milk and milk-based foods, there are plenty of other foods that are rich in calcium such as tofu, broccoli, tinned salmon, sesame paste (tahini) and baked beans. There are also alternative milks that are speciﬁcally designed to help children with a cow’s milk allergy get enough calcium and nutrients in their diet – although any dietary changes should only be undertaken with the advice of a healthcare professional.
It can be difﬁcult to keep track of how much calcium your child is consuming and to make sure they are getting enough from the food they eat. This handy calcium calculator can help show you how much calcium is in your child’s diet and tell you if they are reaching the recommended daily intake. It also has a list of foods that are good sources of calcium and can generate a summary that you can print and take to your healthcare professional for advice about calcium deﬁciency.
Use calcium calculator to help estimate how much calcium your child is getting from their diet.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breast milk is best for babies and provides ideal nutrition. Good
maternal nutrition is important for the preparation and maintenance
of breastfeeding. Introducing partial bottle feeding could
negatively affect breastfeeding and reversing a desicion not to
breastfeed is difficult. Proffesional advice should be followed on
infant feeding. Infant formula should be prepared and used exactly
as directed or it could pose a health hazard. The preparation
requirements and weekly cost of providing infant formula until 12
month of age should be considered before making a decision to
Mothers should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding even when their infants have cow's mil allergy. If a decision to use an infant formula for special dietary use is taken, it must be used under medical supervision.
- Better Health Channel. Cow’s milk allergy. Available at: https://www.betteealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cows-milk-allergy. Accessed Jan 2022.
- Health direct. Allergic reactions to cow’s milk. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/allergic-reactions-to-cows-milk. Accessed Jan 2022.
- ASCIA. Cow’s Milk (Dairy) Allergy. Available at: https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/cows-milk-dairy-allergy Accessed Jan 2022.
- Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutritional Reference Values: Calcium. Available at: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/calcium. Accessed Jan 2022.
- Better Health Channel. Calcium. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/calcium#role-of-calcium-in-the-body. Accessed Feb 2022.