Breastfeeding Other Breastfeeding Worries

Going Dairy Free for Your Breastfeeding Baby

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I learned quickly that going dairy free for your breastfeeding baby could be very helpful when a baby is very fussy.

Early in my lactation career, I got a call from a mom that went like this:

Mom: My baby cries all the time. Do you think he is allergic to my milk? Should I switch to formula?

mother on phone holding crying baby

Me: Babies don’t really have allergies to their mother’s milk. That’s a myth. It is possible though that your baby has an intolerance to something in your diet.

Mom: Oh! Do you think I should go dairy free while breastfeeding?

Me: Dairy is the most common food that causes intolerance symptoms in babies, but other foods can as well. Have you done a diet diary?

Mom: What’s that?

Me: A daily log of all the foods you eat for three days. There are other foods that can cause problems and it can help to see a sample of your typical diet.

I made a plan for this mom to do a diet diary and also set up a consult for her to bring it in so I could evaluate it. I also wanted to watch her baby during and after a feeding.

I have found doing a diet diary can be easier by using a journal like the Food Sensitivity Journal can be invaluable in determining what in your diet is making your baby miserable.


Your diet isn’t the only thing that can cause your baby to be miserable. I created the FUSSY BABY LOG printable to help the mom who is struggling to figure out why her baby is fussy. It is available in my SHOP.



Food intolerances are a real thing.

They can make a baby miserable, and by default, they can make everyone around the baby miserable.

crying african american baby

I often get asked how quickly it takes for food eaten by a mom to affect her baby.

This question is actually impossible to answer.

Food digestion can be affected by other things that are consumed at the same time, whether it is a pure food or mixed in with something else and even time of day may affect the rate of digestion.



1. Dairy

2. Soy

3. Wheat

4. Eggs

5. Fish

6. Corn

7. Citrus

8. Nuts (Almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc)

9. Legumes (peanuts-which is technically not a nut, even though it has nut in the name, isn’t that nutty?)

10. Chocolate (I think this one deserves a moment of silence…)

If you want to do an elimination diet and are not sure where to begin The Elimination Diet is an excellent resource to guide you.



While some people think that consuming dairy is bad for our bodies and/or bad for the planet, I’m just going to talk about how it can make your baby a very unhappy camper.

These are baby dairy sensitivity symptoms:

  • Excessive spitting up with fussiness.
  • Excessive crying by baby (mom crying because her baby is crying all the time doesn’t count)
  • Watery or mucousy stools that may be green
  • Possibly blood in baby’s stools
  • Constant gunky (that’s a medical term there), runny nose
  • Poor growth
  • Reflux symptoms
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rashes
  • Poor feeding

These symptoms can be caused by intolerances to other foods as well.

I have also seen babies who weren’t fussy, but they just were poor feeders.

I saw one baby who just wouldn’t eat very much and her growth was slowing down and she was starting to fall off her growth curve.

baby on a scale

I recommended to her mom that she eliminate dairy and she noticed a big difference after two weeks. Her baby started to eat better and subsequently gained weight at a better rate.

Eliminating dairy from your diet can sound daunting. Go Dairy-Free – The Ultimate Guide and Cookbook For Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein-Free Living will take you through the process step by step.

Related Post

How To Quit Obsessing About Breastfed Baby Weight and Growth Charts



These different conditions may all cause the same symptoms.

A true milk allergy is rare.

person's arm during allergy testing

A true allergy is an immune response and possibly can result in an anaphylactic reaction. An allergy can be diagnosed by testing.

Determining that something is an intolerance is more of a trial and error type of thing.

Lactose intolerance in breastfed babies is exceptionally rare. It happens in less than 1% of babies. It is generally something that develops with age. It is estimated that 65% of adults in the world are lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the lactose sugar in milk.

All breast milk contains lactose and it would be a big mistake for mother nature to make it common for a large percentage of infants unable to digest their sole source of nutrition.

In those rare cases of true lactose intolerance in a breastfed infant, giving them Lactase drops will enable them to digest the lactose in breastmilk. Consult with your baby’s health care provider before doing this.

Box of Lactase drops for infants


If you consume dairy and your baby has food intolerance symptoms, it is worthwhile to try going dairy free for breastfeeding.



For babies who have an intolerance to the cow’s milk protein, it is important to completely eliminate any and ALL dairy from your diet.

  • All milk and milk products
  • Read labels and don’t eat anything with milk products, milk solids, casein or whey in the ingredients.
  • Don’t assume something won’t have dairy or milk in it.
    • The most surprising thing I found milk in was powdered green food.
  • Try to eat as clean as possible
Fresh fruits and vegetables


A lot of people turn to soy when they can’t have dairy. However, a large percentage of people who can’t tolerate dairy find they also cannot tolerate soy.

I always recommend a mom try to eliminate soy from her diet at the same time that she is going dairy free for breastfeeding.

Young woman in grocery store with grocery cart

Eliminating soy from your diet is a bit more challenging than dairy because there is soy in everything! Or at least it feels that way.

Trying to eliminate multiple things from your diet can make grocery shopping frustrating. Look at labels and chances are good that you are going to find some forbidden ingredients in them.

The Healthy Gluten-Free Life – 200 Delicious Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Egg-Free Recipes will help you cook delicious food that is free from all the things that can be making your baby miserable.



There are so many choices compared to just a few years ago. My favorite is a blend of cashew and almond milk. It tastes great with my cereal.

There are so many milk alternatives.

If you need a substitute for heavy cream I suggest using a can of coconut milk. The coconut cream will solidify at the top and you can spoon that part out. I use this all the time and you cannot tell the difference at all.

Can of coconut milk

There is a great almond milk cream cheese by Kite Hill. They also make a ricotta, and yogurt.

Ben and Jerry’s almond milk ice cream is my favorite, and SO makes great frozen treats with coconut milk.  SO also makes Coco Whip, which is the coconut version of Cool Whip.

If it’s Alfredo sauce you are craving, this is a great, crazy easy Cashew Cream Sauce.

That website has lots of other dairy free recipes you should check out. This is a favorite cookbook of dairy free recipes. There are entire websites devoted to dairy free alternatives and recipes.

I love The Big Dairy Free Cookbook for delicious and easy recipes.

Dairy Free Cookbook

I don’t eat milk products and I have to say the only time that I am frustrated is when I am in restaurants for dessert. Most restaurants are really lacking in good dairy free alternatives.

If one more person tells me I can have sorbet, I think I might have a tantrum. Actually, I did once. The pastry chef ended up making me a special, delicious dairy free dessert. Don’t be afraid to ask if they can make you something special.

You can go dairy free for breastfeeding and still eat delicious food.



If you consume any dairy products or any packaged foods that have any kind of dairy products in them  I recommend keeping a diet diary for 3 days.

When you decide to go off dairy it’s important to remember that it takes a full TWO WEEKS before you may see any change in your baby. 

It is helpful to keep a log of your baby’s stools and fussiness and spit-ups to see if there is a change.  It’s also important to remember that things other than food intolerances can cause a baby to be fussy or cry a lot.

The vast majority of intolerance caused by dairy will resolve by the time a child is 6 years old.

The mom who called me did end up eliminating all dairy from her diet and after two weeks she had a much happier baby. 

Happy baby, happy mom!




Final Thoughts on Going Dairy Free for Breastfeeding

If you eat dairy products or like foods made with dairy products, going dairy free for breastfeeding may feel like it’s a huge challenge. It can make for a happier baby though.

It is just temporary.

Who knows, you may find that you feel better without dairy in your diet as well.

Have you needed to go dairy free for breastfeeding? Have you been dairy free for a long time?

What is your favorite dairy free tip?

Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.






<a href="">Andrea</a> has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years. She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.


  • Karla July 31, 2018

    I never thought that breastfeeding moms need to consider a lot of things in their diet. When my youngest sister was still a baby, my mom used to buy expensive milks for lactating mothers. Thanks for the tips! This will be useful for me in the future!

  • hal July 31, 2018

    I work with 3… yes you heard me right… 3… women who are expecting so i’m definitely going to pass on all this great information to them!

  • bfasshoediva50 July 31, 2018

    Fortunately, most moms don’t have dietary issues that affect their babies. But those who do are really challenged by it. Thanks for reading!.

  • bfasshoediva50 July 31, 2018

    Thanks for reading! Please send your expecting co-workers my way. I also have a free e-book for expecting moms. Please let them know.'t-know

  • Kat Centeno July 31, 2018

    I love milk and milky dishes. This is a challenge for me. I know somebody who took a food intolerance test and learned about what food she should avoid to have a healthy gut.

  • bfasshoediva50 August 1, 2018

    That was how I learned to avoid milk. I didn’t consume a lot of milk but was astonished at how much of a difference it made for me. That is why I tell mamas who say they don’t eat much dairy, they should try it any way.

  • Emily August 1, 2018

    Awesome info for the new moms out there! I didn’t even think this was a thing, wow!

  • Kate August 1, 2018

    #10 is very sad. So I appreciate the moment of silence in mourning for our chocolate needs. My sister is breastfeeding right now, so I’ll have to share this with her.

  • bfasshoediva50 August 2, 2018

    Thank you! Fortunately, it is not a thing for most moms, but for the ones affected by it, it is a BIG thing.

  • bfasshoediva50 August 2, 2018

    Yes, please definitely share it with her. Thanks.

  • Micala February 19, 2019

    Hi, so enjoyed the article! I am about to try dairy free for my baby because I think it may help but was curious, do you have to take an additional supplement when I go dairy free? Like for the calcium or something? I already take 5000ius of vitamin d, prenatal, and brewer’s yeast.

  • bfasshoediva50 February 19, 2019

    I’m so glad you found this article helpful. You do not have to take a supplement if you are getting enough calcium from other sources in your diet. Good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  • Amanda December 30, 2020

    If I try this dairy free diet for 2 weeks and don’t notice a difference in baby, is that’s bough time to put it back in my diet if I wish to, or should I do dairy free while breastfeeding for more than 2 weeks to know for sure if that’s the cause of gas, fussiness, not pooping more than 1 time a week, reflux, lots of spitting up in a 2 month old infant?

  • Andrea Tran RN, IBCLC December 30, 2020

    If you don’t see any improvement after two weeks I would continue to eliminate dairy but also eliminate any soy products for two weeks. Babies are often intolerant to both. Soy is very challenging because it is in so many processed foods.

  • Danielle February 5, 2021

    With my first, I had to go dairy, soy and egg free while breastfeeding. He did outgrow all 3 intolerances by the time he turned 1. I’m expecting #2 soon and was wondering if I should make any changes in my diet now or in the first few weeks of breastfeeding? Or wait to see if there is a reaction to my regular diet?

  • Andrea Tran RN, IBCLC February 5, 2021

    I would wait and see unless there is a strong family history of intolerance to those foods. Good luck!

  • Lindsey Y May 8, 2021

    Thank you for your this post, it is so helpful! It is 4:30am and I’m awake with my baby with tummy troubles, we’re both crying and I’m trying to figure out how to eliminate dairy. The pediatrician recommended it to me today and I didn’t know where to start. I feel inspired by your post — we can do it! Wish me luck! ; )

  • Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC May 10, 2021

    Good luck! You need to be patient when eliminating dairy. You also need to read labels because they sneak dairy in the craziest places.

  • Christina December 18, 2021

    When my 3 month olds stools started turning green and having flecks of blood my pediatrician recommended I stop eating dairy, and within 4 days he started having normal breastfed baby stools again! While I’m thrilled to have found the cause, it’s quite the adjustment! Does this mean when we start him on solids on or a little after 6 months, he should avoid dairy as well? Is this considered an intolerance that he will hopefully grow out of? Thanks!

  • Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC December 20, 2021

    They’ve changed recommendations about what to avoid when starting solids. I would discuss it with his pediatrician. Lots of kids do outgrow the dairy intolerance though.

  • Danielle June 7, 2022

    Do you have any advice for a possible wheat intolerance for my breastfed baby

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