Hidden Dairy Ingredients for Babies With Milk Allergies

Cutting these surprising culprits from your breastfeeding diet may help

Baby breastfeeding

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Did you know that there could be hidden dairy ingredients in deli meat, salad dressings, and even shellfish? Many manufacturers dip fish in milk to contain the smell.

So what does this mean if your breastfeeding baby is showing a sensitivity to dairy or has a cow's milk allergy? If you're thinking about cutting dairy from your diet, you may need to think beyond the obvious dairy sources (milk, cheese, sour cream, ice cream). When you take a closer look at food labels, you'll be surprised by the many foods with hidden dairy ingredients. 

Dairy Ingredients to Avoid

Use the following list to help you steer clear of dairy products, including those hidden dairy ingredients. Note: Even after eliminating these foods from your diet, it may take a few days to a few weeks to notice any difference (and in some cases, it may not help at all).

  • Artificial butter flavor
  • Butter
  • Butterfat
  • Buttermilk
  • Butteroil
  • Casein
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Custard
  • Ghee
  • Half and half
  • Hydrolysates (casein, milk proteins, whey, whey proteins)
  • Koumis
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Milk (condensed, derivative, dry, evaporated, powder, low fat, malted, nonfat, protein, skim, solids, whole)
  • Milkfat
  • Paneer
  • Pudding
  • Rennet casein
  • Sour cream
  • Sour cream solids
  • Whey (all forms)
  • Yogurt

Surprising Foods That Contain Milk

Although not necessarily "dairy foods," these items may also contain milk components.

  • Caseinates (ammonia, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium)
  • Canned tuna fish 
  • Chewing gum
  • Deli meat
  • Dips and salad dressings
  • Goat's milk 
  • Hot dogs
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Kefir
  • Lactaid milk
  • Nougat
  • Pate
  • Sausage
  • Shellfish
  • Sherbet
  • Soy or rice cheese

Will Cutting Out Dairy Work?

There's no cure for allergies and there is little research on whether eliminating dairy products from your diet will help your breastfed baby. That said, it can't hurt to give it a try. Your first step might be keeping a food diary, with notes on the baby's symptoms and behavior according to the foods you eat.

This will make it easier to make connections between certain foods and a baby's distress, according to the La Leche League. It's also important to note that switching to lactose-free or soy products may not improve the situation. Babies with cow's milk sensitivities have issues with cow's milk antibodies that come through breastmilk as a protein.

These proteins are still present in lactose-free milk products. Further, some babies who have sensitivities or allergies to cow's milk protein also have problems digesting soy proteins. If your baby is highly sensitive to cow's milk, your best bet is to work with your pediatrician. Together, you can come up with a well-balanced and satisfying diet for you and your breastfed baby. 

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.