How do you know if your baby has a food allergy? After all, most babies are fussy at times, and they cannot yet communicate any pain they feel. If your baby is excessively fussy, however, it may be a sign of food allergies. In infants, one of the first food allergies to become apparent is often an allergy to milk, fed to the baby through formula containing cow’s milk. The baby’s immune system has not developed an acceptance of the protein in the milk, causing an allergic reaction.
Babies who are allergic to milk may include excessive fussiness, colic, or inconsolable crying. Other symptoms include vomiting, gagging, or refusing food. You may notice loose stools or skin rashes that look like hives or eczema. Rarely, a baby may experience a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis after consuming milk, although this is much more common with other types of food allergies.
If you think that your child is allergic to milk, discuss the issue with your child’s pediatrician. Milk allergies in infants are actually quite common; an estimated 2 to 3 percent of babies are afflicted by this allergy.
While most babies will outgrow this allergy within the first three years of life, in the meantime it is important to make sure your baby is not fed anything with milk. There are alternatives to milk-based baby formula, including hydrolyzed, hypoallergenic, or amino acid-based formulas or those that contain soy or other forms of milk rather than cows’ milk. If you are breastfeeding, watch for a reaction if you consume milk products before nursing your baby. While some babies do not seem to react to cow’s milk proteins passed to them through their mother’s milk, others do.