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Milk Allergies

Milk Allergies & Weight Gain in Babies

By Amalah

Advice Smackdown ArchivesAmalah, oh help …

My daughter is allergic to milk: when-milk-touches-my-skin-I-break-out-in-hives allergic (no anaphylaxis, thank heavens!). At her one year doctor’s appointment today, she weighed 17.25 pounds. Up from 9 months, when she weighed … 17 pounds. She’s not a big gainer, that one. Her doctor said he’s not terribly worried, because she eats well and is very alert, active and looks healthy (I’ve been making all her food, inspired by someone who writes an advice column, hm, I wonder who that could be). He just said he would like her to show some healthy weight gain by 15 months, otherwise we’re looking at blood tests.

I’m nursing, which he thinks could be part of the issue, because sadly, there is no gauge on the sides of my breasts telling me how much she’s eaten, so who knows how my milk supply is (although I can hear her swallowing). She eats about a cup of food for each meal, plus a couple snacks. Meals consist of fruit or veggies with organic rice cereal, sometimes ground turkey mixed in. She nurses 3-4 times a day. What else can I do? Cook her veggies with olive oil? See if a stick of butter makes her break out? Go with soy milk? Doc also didn’t seem terribly concerned about the hives (although he hasn’t seen them) and told us to give whole milk a try (she’d only had ice cream and frozen yogurt – blasted grandpa!), which we did and ta-da! Hives. The only alternative he gave was soy milk.

So, help? Will she grow out of this? Is there a cumulative effect from milk exposure, meaning she’ll only get hives now, but it will be a full-blown reaction later? Will we see the glorious return of the knuckle dimples if we can just fatten her up?

I’m Itchy Just Thinking About It


I’m kind of surprised your doctor didn’t mention that as a possibility or an option — we’ve had that suggestion brought up at a couple of Noah’s check-ups already, mostly because his diet is so danged picky and restrictive. His doctor just thought we’d find some extra diet advice helpful, and offered some local suggestions. I assumed that was a standard procedure for children with identified food allergies — especially for a milk allergy. Call your doctor back and tell him you’d rather NOT take the wait-and-see approach and would like some guidance NOW about how to handle the milk allergy and your daughter’s diet. Personally, I’d ask for an allergist and a nutritionist. An allergist with lots of childhood food allergy experience will be able to answer your questions about how to best substitute the milk proteins and fats…and whether she’ll outgrow the allergy. And hell, if it actually really IS a milk allergy and not a series of hive-y coincidences…I’d kind of prefer to know that before just going, OH HEY HERE’S SOME STRAIGHT-UP WHOLE MILK, LET’S WATCH WHAT HAPPENS.

(For the record, we spent a month trying to isolate what we thought was a food allergy in Ezra after a couple hive outbreaks. Turns out it was two separate and entirely unrelated — and completely harmless — viral rashes. I didn’t know viral rashes could manifest as full-on scary hives like that. I assume you had to cut all dairy out of your diet while nursing? Is she prone to eczema? These are all things to be talking to an allergist about, especially because if it IS a real honest-to-God allergy, you’re going to need more information and hidden-ingredient food-label education as your daughter moves on to more and more table food.)

Anyway. So besides all that, your daughter’s diet sounds really good! To me, in all of my armchair non-expert glory, it sounds like she’s getting plenty to eat, and is just a skinny little thing. I have two of those myself. And it’s SO COMMON to see very little weight gain between nine and 12 months. SO COMMON, which I guess is why your doctor is going with the “I’m not concerned…yet” stance of semi-non-helpfulness. Babies this age are incredibly active: crawling, cruising, even walking, and they’re just too BUSY for storing baby fat anymore. If it weren’t for the milk thing, I’d simply tell you to start adding in some Omega-3 fortified olive oil or margarine whenever possible, and start introducing more meats (chicken, lamb, etc.) and pour yourself some wine. But since she DOES have that allergy, I can’t help but think that there are EXPERTS out there who deal with this sort of thing ALL THE TIME and can quickly and easily get you the answers and advice you really want and need right now.

Readers, on the off-chance the OP’s doctor and/or insurance won’t cooperate, can anyone recommend some good online resources for parents of kids with milk allergies?

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About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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