Does your baby have a cow milk allergy?

After egg allergy, cow’s milk allergy is the second most common food allergy in young Asian children. It affects about 2.5 percent of those under 3 years old and is most likely to develop in the first year of life.

90% of children who are allergic to cow’s milk are likely to have goat’s milk and sheep’s milk protein allergies too. Soy formula is not recommended for young children with cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) because of a great risk of development of allergy to soy, whereas soymilk is normally tolerated in older children with CMPA.

CMPA is a food allergy where your child’s immune system detects cow’s milk protein (namely whey and casein) as something the body should fight off, triggering an allergic reaction. Many children do not outgrow CMPA and conditions persist until adolescences.

Symptoms of Cow's Milk Allergy:

A milk allergy may be present from birth, or it may develop after several months. Obviously, babies cannot tell you when something feels wrong. Look for signs a few minutes to a couple hours after feeding.

Hives, Eczema & Itching

Running Nose/Sneezing & Prolong Cough



Watery, Red or Itchy Eyes


Do not try to diagnose a food allergy on your own, no matter how clear you think it may be. Consult your doctor if you have any medical concerns or for a proper diagnosis.

How can you help to manage your child's cow's milk allergy?

If your child have been diagnosed with milk allergy, cow’s milk and other dairy foods have to be avoid from the diet. Most people who are allergic to cow’s milk will be allergic to other animal milks (goat, sheep or horse/mare) and foods that are made from these milks. To exclude cow’s milk and other dairy foods it is important to read all ingredient labels and exclude any food which contains these milks, unless otherwise advised by your doctor.  

To avoid milk and milk products, read food labels and avoid foods that contain milk or milk products such as:

Eliminate milk and milk products from your baby or young child’s diet only under strict medical supervision. Your doctor will need to advise on replacement sources of calcium and protein, which are especially important nutrients for children. Replacement formulas for babies also needs to be carefully supervised. For example, some children with cow’s milk allergy will not be able to tolerate soy milk products.


Lactose intolerance is another type of reaction to milk, when the body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. However, this is not an allergy.

Lactose intolerance can be temporary – for example, it can come on for a few days or weeks after a tummy bug.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

Abdominal cramps / Bloating



Treatment for lactose intolerance

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s intolerance. Some children with lactose intolerance may be able to have small amounts of dairy products without having symptoms.

Your child may be referred to a dietitian for specialist advice.

What is Plant-Based Formula?

Plant-based formula are lactose and cow’s milk free. It is safe and as nutritious as cow’s milk formula. Studies have showed that other grain-based formulas like the rice-based ones are promising in children with cow’s milk allergy. Grain-based formulas could be an alternative for children who allergy to cow’s milk or soy.


For Toddler 1 - 6 Yrs Old


Lee, A. J., Thalayasingam, M., & Lee, B. W. (2013). Food allergy in Asia: how does it compare? Asia Pacific Allergy, 3(1), 3. doi: 10.5415/apallergy.2013.3.1.3
Host, A., & Halken, S. (2014). Cow’s Milk Allergy: Where have we Come from and where are we Going? Endocrine‚ Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Targets, 14(1), 2–8. doi: 10.2174/1871530314666140121142900
Tzifi, F., Grammeniatis, V., & Papadopoulos, M. (2014). Soy- and Rice-Based Formula and Infant Allergic to Cows Milk. Endocrine‚ Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Targets, 14(1), 38–46. doi: 10.2174/1871530314666140121144604