Could you explain the difference between milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance in a toddler?
My daughter is almost 15 months old. She has been off of formula for a few months. I have switched her to 2% milk, and she seemed ok for a while but now she throws up curdled milk every morning (very chunky); sorry for being so graphic!
It smells awful, her stools also smell awful but are very hard, sometimes like little tiny pellets but a lot of them.
Are these signs of milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance in toddlers?
Everything that I have read about milk allergies talks about diarrhea not constipation and lactose intolerant says hives and vomiting etc.
I have noticed her cheeks have been very red lately and she does have thrush.
Should I give her some kind of lactose-free milk? Or stay away completely? If so, what should I give her? She loves her bottle at bedtime and even sleeps with it next to her. She always has some milk, goes to bed and then throws up on the way to daycare in the morning.
Just frustrated and any help would be appreciated!!!
Easy Baby Life:
Signs Of Milk Protein Allergy or Lactose Intolerance In Toddlers
In this article…
It does sound to me too as if your daughter is not agreeing with the cow’s milk. It is true that diarrhea is a more common symptom of milk protein allergy than constipation, but hard stools are a symptom too.
Lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy are different situations, but the symptoms can be similar to some extent.
Symptoms of Milk Protein Allergy
The most common symptoms of milk protein allergy:
- Loose stools and diarrhea. Possibly blood in stools.
- Vomiting and gagging
- Belly pain and bloated belly
- Rashes and eczema
- A runny nose and/or watery eyes
- Constipation (less common symptom, but does occur)
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
The most common symptoms of lactose intolerance:
- Bloating, gas or diarrhea
- Belly pain
With lactose intolerance, the symptoms usually appear about 30 minutes after consuming the milk. With milk protein allergy, the symptoms may come instantly (less common) or gradually increase over a few days or weeks.
The fact that the milk vomit is curdled doesn’t really say much, it is due to the casein in the milk reacting with the stomach acid.
Is it Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy?
This is a good question since the symptoms are often very similar. However, here are some clues to narrow down what is going gon :
- Symptoms of lactose intolerance rarely develop in people younger than 6 years of age. Before this age milk problems are more frequent due to milk-protein allergy.
- Typically, babies younger than 6 months with milk-protein allergy develop diarrhea and eventually vomiting after several weeks of being fed with formula. If you think back, did your baby have any of these problems earlier?
- The baby gets rashes after consuming milk. It is hard for me to say if your daughter’s red cheeks are in ay way related to her milk consumption, but they could be. Rashes after milk consumption are associated with milk protein allergy, not lactose intolerance.
What to Do when Suspecting Milk Allergy in Toddlers
I think it would be wise to take her off the cow’s milk completely and see if it helps. If it does, then you know this is the reason for her constipation and spitting up of curdled milk.
Then you can try offering her lactose-free milk in small amounts and see if that works. If not, she probably is allergic to milk protein and will need to stay off cow’s milk completely (until she grows out of the allergy; many children do at around 3 to 5 years old.)
I would also suggest that you take her to a pediatrician and see if they can run tests to check her for lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy, as well as to discuss other options to feed her, like for example soy milk or other alternatives.
(Don’t try soy as a substitute on your own if you test to take her off cow’s milk because quite a few (15-20%) of children that are allergic to cow’s milk protein are allergic to soy protein too).
Alternatives to both cow’s milk and soy milk are for example any cereal-based “milks”, such as oat milk or almond milk.
Do not give your baby rice milk (read about why here).
Hydrolysate-based formulas are a great alternative but are expensive and many children don’t really like the taste. But if you talk to a pediatrician such formula may be available on prescription.
I hope this helps,
More On Babies and Toddlers With Milk Problems
- Yellow Stools Due To Cow’s Milk Allergy?
- You can read more about milk allergy at MayoClinic. (Opens in new window)
Now over to you! Share your experiences of Milk Problems for your little one!