Dairy allergy. What's a toddler's mom to do?

Ayla is finally off of her soy formula.

Since I don’t believe that genetically modified soy is not a health risk for even a half of a second, I’ve had to buy organic soy formula. My daughter is allergic to milk. What’s more, breastfeeding could have saved the day, but at six months old, I was hospitalized for a couple of weeks due to the incompetence of a few medical professionals. When I returned home and got off of their medicines after pumping the whole time, my daughter refused my breast. I could have forced it on her, but my supply had diminished and I needed her to be more aggressive. Her refusal broke my heart and my feelings of despair over it made for an even less successful letdown response.

Enough explaining. The point is, my daughter is finally off of her soy formula.  Still unable to handle cow’s milk, I had only a few options. Rice, Soy, Almond, and Coconut milk.  I expected her to refuse anything but soy milk. Even with my expectations though, I went out on a limb and bought her coconut milk.

I wanted her to have coconut milk so bad. Coconut milk is one of the best drinks a person can have. While both coconut milk and cow’s milk have 5 grams of fat per serving, the fats are not created equally. Coconut milk is one of nature’s best sources for Medium Chain Fatty Acids, which are special fats that are  more easily burned as energy than other fats.  Coconut milk has 80 calories to cow’s milk’s 120 calories. I know that with little ones calories aren’t a huge concern, but what comes with those calories is quite impressive. Cow’s milk also has more sugar per serving, twice as much actually. Our children do not need more sugar. Coconut milk is rich in vitamins, electrolytes and minerals as well.

Coconut milk, which is made from the flesh and oils of a coconut helps give a body strength against viruses, fungi  and bacteria. When you get a sinus infection, belly ache or a sore throat, the doctor usually tells you to stop drinking milk for a little while. On the other hand, coconut milk will help your body fight sinus infections, belly aches and sore throats.  Coconut milk is an immune system booster, and since, I wasn’t able to share my immunities with my daughter as much as I would have like, I am very grateful that coconut milk will take over where I left off because, as it turns out, she loves it!



  1. I’ve had a similar experience. My last two boys had milk protein allergy so I had to be completely off dairy for a YEAR while nursing them. It was so hard (I love cheese!!) but at least it stopped the babies’ fussing and vomiting.

    After they were a year, we started rice milk, which they both loved. The first one outgrew the protein allergy by the time he was 2 so now he’s drinking raw cow’s milk and eating dairy to his heart’s content. The second is 15 months now and still drinking rice milk but I think he’s also close to outgrowing the allergy because he’s been tolerating small amounts of cheese with no problems.

    The only issue I’ve had with rice milk is it’s harder for my little ones to put on weight since it’s much leaner than whole milk. My two oldest drank lots of whole milk and gained weight just fine. My two that have had rice milk are smaller and still lagging significantly in the weight percentiles (less than 3%).

    If anyone has any suggestions about this problem, I would love to hear them!

    • Do half and half with coconut milk then make the switch. Coconut milk has great fats, and is just about the best drink available to us in terms of good fats, low sugars and dense nutrients. Also, it has the immunity boosting strength that are not there with dairy, soy or rice.

  2. I hear conflicting things about the fat content in coconut milk. A lot of nutritional websites say that it’s high in saturated (bad) fat. Can you shed some light on this?

    Another good alternative I considered in the past, but never tried, was GOAT milk. It is very similar to cow’s milk in nutritional content but has the bonus of being easier to digest and also is non-mucous forming which is good news for toddlers with allergies/asthma.

    Also, goat’s milk has about twice the medium chain fatty acids as cows milk – 35% compared to 17%.

    • They are high in saturated fats for sure, but the kind of saturated fat is not the kind you are accustomed to hearing about. MCFAs, or medium-chain fatty acids, are a type of saturated fat found in coconut milk. Long-chain fatty acids, or LCFAs, are more prevalent in meat and dairy products. LCFAs end up as fat deposits in the body compared with MCFAs, are quickly metabolized by the liver. The saturated fat that is in coconut oil is super healthy for you. The saturated fat in animal milk is not. Goat’s milk has less LCFAs, but still has HCFAs as well. Coconut milk is healthier than goats milk which is healthier than cows milk. Hope that helps explain things. 🙂

  3. Bethanie Miller

    My daughter has several food allergies, and at a year, I am still following a strict exclusion diet and she is breastfed for the majority of her “feedings”. She only eats about three tablespoons of food a day, really. She is allergic to dairy. We were advised to also avoid goat. She is intolerant (greatly) to soy, which with all of the fuss about estrogen mimiking and the fact that I have a blood disorder that reacts to estrogen, I would not have put her on it anyway.
    Anyway, I tried her on 100% coconut milk at 12 months, which prompted violent vomitting. I wrote this off as an allergy as well. Then, I decided to try her on the So Delicious coconut milk beverage (not as rich as full coconut milk) and she tolerated it well. It is pleasant tasting, and sweet like breastmilk! So glad I tried it!!!!
    Anne – coconut milk does contain saturated fats. But everything in moderation. ; ) To me, the fact that the coconut milk is higher in calories and fats (which my one year old needs) cancels out the “bad” effects of saturated fats. Anyway, we do need some saturated fats in our diet. As I said, everything in moderation.

    • Like I said to the earlier response after you posted this is that the saturated fats in coconut milk are not unhealthy. I didn’t see that you had posted this though, so I apologize for answering a question you mostly answered already.

      I would suggest trying organic soy milk with your daughter if she can’t tolerate other things. GMO soy which is standard has MANY allergies associated with it, while organic soy has very few. But if she tolerates the so delicious, then great! Even better! I had done the same thing and it turned out I accidentally got the vanilla coconut milk and not the regular one. Hahaaa! I’m of course not saying you made the same mistake as I did, just sharing! 😉

  4. I too fiddled with the dairy allergy with my daughter. She was introduced to goat milk at 10 months when she started solids. We have had no problems and due to the taste of the goat milk, she won’t drink anything else! She is still allergic to dairy at near 4 years old. Its a challenge (diet wise) but well worth the sacrifice as she eats many more foods than most her age.

  5. Hi Dawn! Thank you so much for your lovely blog post. We’re delighted to hear that your daughter loves our coconut milk! We get lots of great feedback from moms who are happy to have a delicious alternative for their toddlers with dairy allergies, and we are thrilled to provide a dairy alternative that is rich in medium-chain fatty acids and low in sugar. I did want to point out that So Delicious coconut milk beverage has 10% of the daily recommended calcium, and that unlike other non-dairy beverages, it is balanced with the proper ratio of magnesium and vitamin D for maximum calcium absorption.

  6. leanne

    I’ve never seen coconut milk marketed here like that! I’m trying to transition my son from Soy Milk to Almond Milk, and it’s mostly a done deal now. What I hate is all the sugar (organic cane sugar even) that’s added, and he doesn’t take to any of the dairy alternatives that aren’t sweetened… I mean, I suspect the actual sugar content is still the same as cow’s milk (I think I checked a million years ago)… but does the Coconut Milk have sugar added?

    • Dawn Papple

      Some does, some doesn’t. Some have flavors, some don’t. All in all though, for the immunity boosting power alone, it’s worth having a glass a day of unsweetened even if it’s just in cereal. i don’t like the taste of the unsweetened. But it’s fine in cereal.

      • Christal

        I was checking out the coconut milk today at the store and found unsweetened, original, Vanilla, and the no sugar added original and vanilla. A lot of choices! I ended up getting a few different ones to try but the original still had a lot less sugar than regular whole milk. The no sugar added had more sodium and a lot less calories so I didn’t bother with them but there is the unsweetened option that didn’t have sugar so I am not sure what the difference is. These were all Soy Delicious brands. The vanilla is quite good but not sure if it is apropriate to give to my son. He will be 1 next month so I am looking for options for him.

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