Weaning a baby from their mother’s milk or infant formula onto solid food can be a joyful milestone. Sharing your baby’s delight as they discover food creates memories that last a lifetime.
Once a diagnosis of straightforward Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) has been made, the process of weaning needs to be adjusted.
1. Label Reading
For most parents new to allergy, label reading can be the hardest adjustment. Every food label needs to be checked, every time you buy it. A product will either list milk or dairy in its ingredients (see the list below), state that it may contain milk, or indicate that it’s dairy free. If the packaging doesn’t mention any of the above information, then it’s necessary to visit their website before offering the food to your baby.
An example of a commonly used food for first weaning that may contain milk, is the Organix Rice Porridge range. A visit to the Organix website will confirm that their rice porridge is produced on a factory line using milk even though the packaging doesn’t. When offering your baby their first foods, it’s always best to stay away from may contain foods. This means you can be certain that a reaction was caused by the new food and not by traces of dairy.
When checking labels, you’re looking for the following words:
Cow’s milk, milk protein, whey, caseinate, lactose, lactoglobulin, lactoalbumin, butter, ghee, buttermilk, yoghurt, cheese, fromage frais, cream.
(Cocoa butter is an exception. While the word butter is present, the cocoa butter itself doesn’t contain milk. Vegan chocolate, for example, contains cocoa butter but not milk products.)
2. Separate Food Preparation Area
In the very early days of weaning with CMPA, it’s worth using a separate preparation area (or thoroughly cleaning down your usual food preparation area and making your baby’s food first). When introducing new solid foods, it’s best to be sure of exactly what your baby is eating. If your baby has a reaction to the new food, it’s important to be sure that the new food caused the reaction and not small amounts of dairy introduced during food preparation.
3. Separate Utensils and Eating Area
Depending on the number of children you have, it may be sufficient to wash your baby’s utensils and eating area with first, with fresh water when starting weaning. This ensures that their food remains free of milk and dairy. If you’re weaning your second, third or more child, it may be simpler to purchase utensils in a different colour and designate them their own high chair to reduce contamination risk.
Depending on the severity of your baby’s allergy, you may be able to relax point number 2 and 3 when you’re baby is eating familiar foods, if they are unlikely to react to traces of milk. It’s always best to discuss cross contamination and your baby’s allergy with your dietician or paediatrician.
4. Medicines and Teething Preparations
While not strictly considered food, milk products are often used in medicines and teething products. For this reason, please be sure to check the packaging and/or websites before using these products for your baby.
5. Dairy Substitutes
As your baby grows, you will most likely wish to start serving them the same food as the rest of the family. When preparing homemade meals, it’s often possible to use your favourite recipes and simply substitute the milk products with dairy free alternatives. Dairy free spreads, such as Pure, Vitalite Dairy Free and Flora Dairy Free can be used in place of butter for most recipes.
Oat milk, such as Oatly, can be used in place of cow’s milk and vegan cheese, for example Violife, used instead of traditional cheese.
Dairy free alternatives to custard, yoghurt, creme fraiche and cream can be used for the whole family, such as the range from Oatly.
5. Relax and Enjoy This Important Milestone
Perhaps easier said than done, but weaning is an important time for you and your baby. Once you have checked your labels and prepared suitable milk free food for your baby, try to give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy this wonderful time. Take pictures, sing happy food songs and acknowledge what a great job you’re doing because these precious memories will be yours forever.
Xx Allergy Mama