Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is one of the most common nutritional issues babies may encounter during their first year of life. It is estimated that up to 5% of infants under the age of 12 months will suffer from CMPA at some point.
The symptoms of CMPA can be quite unspecific. They include, for example, reflux, loose stools, sometimes containing blood, failure to gain weight or even constipation. The variety of symptoms can make CMPA difficult to diagnose and this is why a lot of parents and babies go through rough times before the symptoms get better under a dairy-free diet. No wonder it can be unsettling to open a new chapter and start introducing solids. We are here to to answer your questions.
How do I start introducing solids to my baby with CMPA?
Introducing solids to a baby with CMPA is not different from any other baby as you would start with vegetables, preferably dark green ones, first. You can offer them as puree or finger food, for example steamed broccoli florets or pureed spinach. Breakfast or lunch are an ideal time to start your allergic baby as you will have time to monitor reactions throughout the day. The introduction of other allergens such as eggs, nuts or wheat should not be delayed. Speak to your health professional before introducing solids to get reassurance and detailed advice.
What if my baby develops a reaction?
I would say it depends on the kind of reaction and the food consumed beforehand. Some foods such as tomatoes or strawberries like to cause small spots around the mouth, which aren’t an allergic reaction but rather a skin reaction to acidity. A whole body rash which is itchy after consuming nuts might be more worrying and needs immediate attention by your health professional.
Do I need to cut out dairy completely?
Before introducing dairy, it is important that you speak to your healthcare provider. They will guide you when you take your first trials of introducing dairy products. They will most likely suggest to follow ‘the milk ladder’ where dairy is gradually introduced, initially in its processed form, e.g. as a baking ingredient for muffins.
Goat’s milk should be avoided as well, unless your healthcare provider suggests otherwise. Some proteins in goat milk are similar to the ones in cow’s milk which CMPA babies are allergic to and there is a risk of cross contamination.
What foods will help me to provide extra calcium?
Great non-dairy sources of calcium are:
- Soy milk products, such as milk substitutes, yogurts or tofu (if set with calcium chloride (E509) or calcium sulphate (E516)
- Calcium-enriched milk substitutes, such as almond milk. Rice milk is not recommended for children under 5 years and organic products cannot be fortified.
- Dark green vegetables, such as curly kale, spring greens or broccoli
- Fish, such as anchovies and sardines
- Dried fruit, such as apricots or figs
- Nuts, such as almonds
At Little Tummy, we know it can be difficult to find nutritious dairy-free baby foods. This is why we have designed a dairy-free baby meal selection which brings you cold-pressed goodness directly to your doorstep - completely dairy-free and, therefore, the ideal choice for sensitive little tummies.