Is lactose free milk an option for your baby? After your child’s first birthday, he or she is ready to drink milk instead of formula. This can be an exciting time for you and your baby, but what happens if the transition does not go very well?
Let’s say you have a baby who seems to not tolerate milk very well. This could be the sign of lactose intolerance. But there is no need to worry, as there are more people in the world who cannot tolerate lactose than people who can.
Lactose intolerant babies are rare in the United States because most people typically consume milk (or milk-based products) on a regular basis. It is more prevalent in countries where cow’s milk is not a normal part the diet.
Some people have trouble tolerating milk. This lack of tolerance can result from either milk sugar, known as lactose, or milk protein.
Can I Give My Baby Lactose Free Milk? Answer: If Needed
Lactose is known as the sugar found in milk. No matter what kind of milk is being consume, whether from the mother’s breast or a cow (or other animal), lactose is the same. Someone who is lactose intolerant will experience gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming dairy foods. This symptoms can be as mild as gas or as sever as diarrhea. Symptoms of milk intolerance come from the lactose, and they can be avoided if this person drinks lactose free milk.
Notes on Lactase
A baby’s body makes an enzyme called lactase, which helps them tolerate milk and also helps thier bodies digest the sugar in milk. This is why lactose intolerance is more common in babies who were born premature.
Babies who suffer from lactose intolerance can still have milk or formula that is made from cow’s milk, but it would just have to be lactose-free. Babies who were born full-term can suffer from lactose intolerance for a short period of time if they had diarrhea. Diarrhea may force the child to lose the lactase enzyme. Once the child’s body has created more lactase, the child’s intolerance will be gone. Lactase is produced less frequently as a child gets older, and some children may experience a lactose intolerance as a toddler instead of as an infant.
Lactose free milk has been treated with lactase so that the milk sugar is completely broken down. Nutritionally, lactose free milk is comparable to regular cow’s milk.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
You need to be careful when determining your child is lactose intolerant, as some people tend to believe they are lactose intolerant when they, in fact, have a milk allergy. Milk allergy symptoms can include itching, swelling, hives, a runny nose or difficulty breathing.
When your child gets older, you may want to consider adding non-dairy drinks to their diet. These include soy, almond and rice milk. Other forms, including potato, hemp and oat, are also available, but since they are less popular, they tend to be harder to find and more expensive. You can substitute these non-dairy drinks while cooking too. These non-dairy drinks may look like milk, but they may have a thicker texture.
Differences to Regular Milk
Regular milk is high in calcium, and so is lactose free milk. Most non-dairy drinks, like soy or almond milk, do not have the same amount of vitamin D as regular cow’s milk and may need to be fortified with the vitamin. Always make sure to check the labels of your milk to make sure they are high in vitamins and nutrients.
Remember, lactose free milk can be given to your child. There are numerous brands, varieties and flavors available, and most lactose-free cow’s milk products have the same nutritional value as regular cow’s milk. It is important to make sure your child really does have lactose intolerance and not a true milk allergy, as lactose free milk will not help a child who suffers from a true allergy.
If your child is lactose intolerant, be aware of the other dairy products that may give him or her diarrhea or make them vomit. It is best to stay away from these foods until they are a toddler, as their lactose intolerance may faze out once they are older.
If you have any questions about giving lactose free milk to your child, it is best to discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician. He or she will be able to address your concerns more thoroughly.