Some babies have sensitivities to dairy. If you’re a breastfeeding parent to a baby with a dairy intolerance, you may need to go dairy-free in order to avoid stomach upset or other issues with baby. Here are tips for going dairy free while breastfeeding.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, I’ll be compensated at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I love! More info here.
Should you go dairy free?
If you think your baby may have a sensitivity to dairy or another food, talk to your pediatrician.
Some possible signs of an intolerance that you may want to bring up include:
- Fussiness after feedings
- Crying inconsolably or being in obvious discomfort
- Skin issues such as rash, eczema, or hives
- Intestinal upsets such as diarrhea or constipation
There are other foods, such as soy, peanuts, eggs, and wheat that may cause reactions in your baby. If you think your baby might have an allergy or intolerance, talk to your pediatrician to determine if you should eliminate any foods, and if so, which foods.
Tips for going dairy free
If your pediatrician does recommend that you eliminate dairy, here are some tips from members of our community who have done it.
Note: It can take 10 days to 3 weeks to eliminate cow’s milk protein from your system, so give it some time before you evaluate how the change is affecting your baby.
Unfortunately, giving up dairy isn’t as simple as avoiding cheese and milk.
Sometimes it’s hiding in foods that aren’t obvious (like English muffins, for example).
The Milk Allergy Avoidance list contains a sheet of words to look for on labels. While food generally has to be plainly labeled “contains milk,” other items (like supplements) may not have this clear language, so it’s important to read closely.
Look for vegan food
One shortcut to constantly reading labels is to get vegan food. Vegan food is obviously always dairy-free, and vegan substitutes (like cheese and chocolate) have come a long way.
Depending on where you live, you might also be able to find a vegan bakery or restaurant that can make getting food that you don’t have to cook easier for you.
Find dairy-free versions of foods that you like
It’s hard giving up food that you love! Finding alternate versions (like the vegan substitutes mentioned above) can be helpful.
Some suggestions to start:
- Dairy-free ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s makes it!)
- Coconut milk and cream can be great dairy substitutes
- Many people recommended shopping at Trader Joe’s for dairy-free options
- Whole 30 recipes (with the exemption of those containing ghee) are all dairy-free
- If all else fails, Oreos are vegan!
Other tips for adjusting to no dairy
Below are some other tips from people who have eliminated dairy while breastfeeding.
Label your frozen milk
Babies sometimes outgrow a dairy intolerance, and even if baby can’t have milk with dairy in it now, he or she may be able to in the future.
Label your frozen milk “dairy” or “dairy free” so you know which milk you can feed now, and which milk you can try if and when your doctor tells you it is safe to reintroduce.
Some people found eating out stressful and said that they packed their own food everywhere they went.
Others recommended requesting an allergen menu in restaurants or looking online first to see if one was available.
Find online support
If you are new to going dairy free, it can be a lot to take in quickly. Online support can be extremely helpful.
If you’re on social media, Facebook groups can be a good way to connect with other parents going through the same thing. These can be good not only for getting tips on what to eat and what to avoid, but to get support on the adjustment. (A new baby and a new diet at the same time is a lot to adapt to!)
Some examples that people have found helpful are the Facebook group Dairy Free Diet – Breastfeeding and the instagram account @free.to.feed. (Note: I’m not associated with either, just passing on the recommendations.)
- Some people found it helpful to throw away the dairy products that they had at home
- You may need to eat more if your dairy-free diet means you’re taking in fewer calories
- Remember that this is temporary – it can be a huge adjustment, but it won’t last forever
Have you gone dairy free? Give us your tips for going dairy free while breastfeeding in the comments!