If you are interested in hearing more about the issues we’ve had with Arlo over the past year and a half, have a browse through the posts in the eczema and food intolerance category.

We were sort of pushed into introducing cow’s milk when the GP called to announce they were stopping Arlo’s milk prescription because it had been six months and therefore time to try him on dairy products again.

Needless to say, I was less than impressed with this sudden change of plan, especially when his dietician had requested that he have the milk until he was two years old. But he had been showing signs of increased tolerance to dairy (I’d been letting him eat pretty much anything for the month previous with no ill effects), so maybe it was time to try him on the hard stuff.

We gave him a bottle of cow’s milk at bedtime. He drank it with no problem. In fact, I think he preferred it (which is no surprised considering that his formula smells like mini cheddars). But we had night-time screaming (as in, waking up screaming…not night-time crying, that’s a standard night in this house) and a bit of tummy discomfort for the first week. I think it was his body learning how to digest this foreign substance, and perhaps we should have introduced milk slowly, in smaller doses. A little bit of eczema on his cheeks came and went for the first two weeks.

Arlo has now been having an evening bottle of cow’s milk (usually 6oz) for one month. He is absolutely fine with it. His body has learnt to cope with dairy.

I have almost forgotten the trauma of his first year. The scratching, the bleeding, the constant infections, the tummy discomfort, the reflux. Searching for links in things he’d eaten, clueless as to the cause of some of his outbreaks. Feeling bitterly helpless that I was unable to control this problem for him. Getting no help from healthcare professionals until he was eleven months old.

We have come so far since then, it’s hard to believe.

Although I’m glad that he is off the weird hydrolised formula (who knows what the long-term effects of such a concoction might be), I can’t say that I’m thrilled that he is on cow’s milk. This whole experience with his dairy intolerance has really changed my view on cow’s milk, and I have serious doubts as to whether it’s beneficial in anyone’s diet. Yes, he’s learnt to cope with dairy, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for him to have.

The problem is, I haven’t yet found an alternative that I like. Almond milk is way expensive, soy is not suitable, rice milk is carborific, oat and coconut milk are great to use in his food, but not fatty enough to give as a regular drink.

Breast milk, of course, is brilliant. But we got into the bedtime bottle habit a long time ago for several reasons. Partly to get him used to bottles and formula in preparation for a return to work that never happened, and partly because he wouldn’t take a breastfeed in the evening but would happily drain a bottle. A big evening feed granted a longer sleep until the first wake-up, and by eleven months old I was desperate for four hours solid sleep. So, for those reasons, the boob is no longer a suitable alternative to the bedtime bottle.

I’m still going to continue most of the habits that I got used to when Arlo was on a dairy-free diet, just because I really believe it’s a better diet for him. He has milk in his bottle and on his cereal, and cake/ice cream/chocolate as a treat every now and again, but I’m going to keep cheese, yoghurt and similar dairy products out of his diet for now. I just don’t see the point in him having those types of dairy snacks when there are other, dairy-free snacks that are healthier and just as good a source of calcium.

I’m almost tempted to go dairy-free myself. I did it for half a year when dairy affected Arlo through my milk. It was easy once I got used to it. I strongly believe that dairy doesn’t have a place in our diets. But, I also strongly believe in good cheese and milk in my tea. Hmmm.

I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who has chosen not to give your toddler cow’s milk Do you know of a good alternative?

3 comments

  1. Have you thought about goats milk? We introduced our Arlo to goats milk before cows milk. He did really well with it. We now alternate between the two.

  2. I was going to suggest goats milk as well. I have a friend who didn’t want to use cows milk so she used goats milk. Also, I wonder if organic would make a difference? Not sure if you can get that in whole milk though. I’m glad things are working out, though.

  3. My son has CMPI and I looked for a long time for an alternative – oat milk! It’s sugar free and has as much calcium as cows milk, it also tastes great!

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