Resource Center: Milk Allergy

There is a relatively small percentage of children younger than 3 (2.5%) that are allergic to milk. Almost all children who will develop a milk allergy do so in the first year of life. Milk allergy is commonly outgrown by school age.

How can I bake or cook without milk?

You’re in luck because milk is one of the ingredients that is most easily replaced in baking and cooking. When you are baking or cooking, you can substitute water or fruit juice in the same amounts. For instance, replace 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of water.)

Hidden Milk Sources

    • Meat slicers in most delis are often used for both cheese and milk products. This can cause issues due to cross-contamination.
    • Casein, a milk protein, is included many times in non-dairy products, so be sure to be conscious and read labels.
      Canned tuna and meat products may contain casein. It can be used as a binder. Make sure to read labels before using them.
    • When eating in a restaurant be aware that sometimes butter is added to steaks after cooking, to add extra flavor. Make sure to communicate this with your waiter so that the chef is made aware. In this case, often the butter is not something you can see because it has melted.


Commonly Asked Questions

Is goat milk an appropriate substitute for cows milk?

Due to the similarity in protein structure, goat’s milk is not a good substitute for anyone suffering from a cow’s milk allergy.

What formulas are recommended for children with a milk allergy?

The recommendation is typically for a formula that has a protein that has been extensively broken down. This makes it less likely to cause an allergic reaction because it is so different from a milk protein. Alimentum® and Nutramigen® are two examples of casein-hydrolysate formulas. This being said, a doctor may also recommend a soy-based formula if a child does not display sensitivity to soy.

When should a milk-allergic child stop using formula?

The decision to wean a child off of a milk-free formula and on to a milk replacement (soy milk, rice milk etc) will be a decision made based on the rest of the child’s diet. If they are on a restricted diet due to food allergy, the doctor may suggest remaining on a milk-free formula past the age of one year to aid in the replacement of necessary nutrients. Make sure to discuss these choices with your entire care team (allergist, primary care physician, dietician) to make sure that your child’s needs are all being met via their diet.

Do these ingredients contain milk?

Many doctors receive questions about the following ingredients. They do not contain milk protein and need not be restricted by someone avoiding milk:

  • Cocoa butter
  • Calcium lactate
  • Cream of tartar
  • Sodium stearoyl lactylate
  • Sodium lactate
  • Calcium stearoyl lactylate
  • Lactic acid (however, lactic acid starter culture may contain milk)
  • Oleoresin

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