What should I do if i think my child is allergic to cows milk?

Cows' milk allergy in babies

Cows' milk allergy (CMA), also called cows' milk protein allergy, is one of the most common childhood food allergies. CMPA develops when cows milk is first introduced to your littles on diet either via formula , solids or breastmilk.

There are 2 main types of CMA:

  • immediate CMA – where symptoms typically begin within minutes of having cows' milk

  • delayed CMA – where symptoms typically begin several hours, or even days, after having cows' milk

Symptoms of cows' milk allergy

Cows' milk allergy can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • skin reactions – such as a red itchy rash or swelling of the lips, face and around the eyes

  • digestive problems – such as stomach ache, vomiting, colic, diarrhoea or constipation

  • hay fever-like symptoms – such as a runny or blocked nose

  • eczema that does not improve with treatment

Occasionally CMA can cause severe allergic symptoms that come on suddenly, such as swelling in the mouth or throat, wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and difficult, noisy breathing.


Do not give your child any other type of milk without first getting medical advice.

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the mother will be advised to avoid all cows' milk products.

Your child should be assessed every 6 to 12 months to see if they have grown out of their allergy.

Could it be lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is another type of reaction to milk, when the body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. However, this is not an allergy.

Lactose intolerance can be temporary – for example, it can come on for a few days or weeks after a tummy bug.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  • diarrhoea

  • vomiting

  • stomach rumbling and pains

  • wind

Treatment of CMPA

  1. Call your GP to discuss your symptoms

  2. Book a consultation with a paediatric dietitian

  3. Your paediatric dietitian will recommend dairy free breastfeeding / prescription specialised formula. As well as dairy free weaning, information on early introduction of other allergens, ensuring a complete and balanced diet without deficiencies as well as the safe re introduction of dairy through the milk ladder.

Our team of expert paediatric dietitian's have fortnightly CMPA webinars or if you need individualised advice , please book a 1-1 online consultation with our expert paediatric allergy dietitian's.

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