Toddler allergic to dairy products

My 19-month-old son is allergic to dairy products and has refused all soy- and rice-based milk that I have offered him. His pediatrician has suggested I keep him on formula, but he refuses to take formula from a cup during the day, instead insisting on a nighttime and morning bottle. How can I make sure he gets the nutrients he needs?


Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Although your son will not drink soy or rice milk from a cup, be pleased that he is taking bottles of formula. This will ensure that he is getting sufficient protein and calcium. You can also be pleased that he has limited his bottles to morning and evening and is not wanting them all day long. For nursing, as well as bottle-fed babies, the morning and evening breast/bottle are usually the last to go. This routine can last for several months before the child is ready to take the next step.

Because you have the nutritional "cushion" of formula, you can go about finding other ways to increase the protein, calcium and vitamin D content that might be lacking from his diet. There are many non-dairy foods that offer these nutrients, although they might not all come in one product like milk.

Protein can be found in many places and will be the easiest nutrient for you to incorporate in his diet. Toddlers may enjoy scrambled eggs, tofu, soy cheese, peanut butter, fish, chicken and hamburger.

Ideally, a toddler should be getting two to three cups of milk per day. Making sure that your son obtains enough calcium through this current diet may be a challenge. You might want to try tofu that has been precipitated with calcium. Also, many juices and dried cereals are calcium fortified. Canned fish with bones, such as salmon, is also a good source. In addition, a daily walk outside or a visit to the park where he gets at least 15 minutes of sunshine, will help him meet his need for vitamin D.

As you try all these alternatives, continue to search for a calcium and vitamin D-fortified soymilk that he will like, offering it in a sippy cup in a non-forceful way. Also, try using the fortified soy liquids in your cooking and baking. Or, add it when you make him cereal. Sneaking in bits of nutrition here and there can really add up.

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