A quick few things to read about lactose intolerance in babies

Yes, it can be tough to imagine your baby’s daily diet without milk. This wholesome and nutritious liquid food is a powerhouse of calcium, protein and potassium, which supplies energy, boosts the growth of muscles and bones, and plays a key role in overall development. But, what if your baby consistently reacts badly whenever he or she is fed with milk, it could be a case of lactose intolerance or a milk allergy.

Lactose intolerance in babies is not synonymous with milk allergy, though they are similar. While lactose intolerance affects the gastrointestinal system, milk allergy affects your baby’s immune system. Lactose intolerance tends to become more pronounced when a child grows up, but milk allergy can develop within the first year of a baby’s life.

What causes lactose intolerance?

From newborns and toddlers to school-going children, teens and even adults, anyone can be affected by lactose intolerance. If your baby is lactose intolerant, it simply means that he or she is unable to digest lactose, the sugar in breast milk or cow’s milk. This sugar is also found in other dairy products. Thus, even babies who are breastfed can develop lactose intolerance.

To digest lactose, the body needs an enzyme known as lactase. This enzyme is typically found in the small intestine. When the body does not produce enough lactase, the digestive system cannot digest lactose, and hence, intolerance towards this sugar develops.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance

Before we come to the treatment of lactose intolerance in infants, you must be able to recognize the symptoms of this condition. Most babies show these symptoms for half-an-hour to two-hours after drinking milk. The severity of symptoms varies from one infant to another, based on the amount and type of lactose consumed. The main symptoms to look out for are:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Irritability
  • Gagging
  • Crying inconsolably and passing gas when passing stools
  • Watery and frothy stool
  • Skin rashes

Treatment of lactose intolerance in babies

To treat lactose intolerance, you first need to understand the baby’s tolerance levels. After this, a paediatrician can help the mother choose a lactose intolerant diet for babies. After the age of 6 months, mothers can feed babies lactose-free formula, almond milk or soy milk.

Since your baby cannot drink too much milk, it is important to supplement his diet with other foods that contain the nutrients found in milk. For instance, you can feed your baby soy products, green leafy vegetables, eggs, fruits, poultry, fish, and meat, so that he gets the required calcium and other nutrients usually found in milk. In addition, you can also give your baby fortified juices and meals.