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Allergies Health Center

Food Substitutes for Milk Allergy

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For everyday use -- and especially for baking -- there are lots of good substitutes for milk. If your child has a milk allergy, you need to make sure he gets the calories and nutrients he needs. Ask your pediatrician or a pediatric dietitian for advice on replacing milk in your child’s diet. Look for substitutes that provide the same nutritional value as milk. Soy milk leads the pack, as it contains similar amounts of protein as cow's milk, something missing in other milk alternatives. Whichever milk alternative you choose, be sure  it's fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  • Oat milk
  • Almond milk

It's very important to check the labels to make sure the substitute doesn't include milk-based ingredients. Some products may have milk in them even though they don’t appear to. Look for words like casein, whey, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin, lactalbumin.

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Milk that comes from an animal other than a cow, like goat’s milk, may also trigger an allergic reaction.

Substitutes for Other Dairy

  • Cheese. Consider vegan or soy cheeses. Some are not completely milk-free. You may want to contact the manufacturer to make sure. One word to the wise: Anyone’s who’s cooked with vegan cheese knows it doesn’t melt like dairy cheese.
  • Yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese. Look for soy-based or vegan products. In recipes, pureed tofu can work, too.
  • Butter. Try margarines made with vegetable oils.
  • Buttermilk. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of soy or rice milk.
  • Baby formula. Most babies with milk allergies can tolerate extensively-hydrolyzed formulas that break down casein, a milk protein, into little pieces so it no longer causes a reaction. Soy-based formulas may also be an option. Talk with your pediatrician.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on October 30, 2014

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