Swaps for a Milk Allergy

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on October 27, 2020

For everyday use -- and especially for baking -- there are lots of good substitutes for milk. If your child is allergic to it, make sure they get the calories and nutrients they need. Ask your pediatrician or a pediatric dietitian for advice on replacing milk in their diet.

You might try these substitutes:

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

Soy milk leads the pack, because it has about the same amount of protein as cow's milk. You may find that missing in other choices. Whichever one you choose, be sure it's fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Check the labels to make sure the product doesn't include milk-based ingredients. Look for words like casein, whey, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin, lactalbumin, lactose, curds, diacetyl, ghee, lactulose, recaldent, and tagatose.

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

Substitutes for Other Dairy

  • Cheese. Consider vegan or soy products. But know that some aren’t completely milk-free. You may want to contact the manufacturer to make sure. A 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 1 cup of soy or rice milk.
  • Baby formula. Look for products that are extensively-hydrolyzed. Most babies with milk allergies can handle them because they break down casein, a milk protein, into little pieces so it no longer causes a reaction. Soy-based formulas may also work. Talk with your pediatrician.
WebMD Medical Reference



Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network: "Milk."

Kids with Food Allergies Foundation: "Basic Recipe Substitutions for Milk Allergy."

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