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35+ Dairy Free Snacks for Babies

Sometimes babies have food sensitivities and allergies that require removing dairy, forcing you to get creative with snacks. While some foods are easy to avoid, others are common ingredients that can be difficult to avoid. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite dairy free snacks for babies to help lighten your load.

baby sitting in high chair at 9 months

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Disclaimer – This post is for informational purposes only and is not for diagnosing or treatment. See your medical provider or Registered Dietitian for individual recommendations. 

While the first 6 months of a baby’s life is usually exclusively breastmilk or formula, you may notice that your little one becomes fussy, doesn’t tolerate, or has reactions after eating.

You may suspect your little one has a food allergy or dairy intolerance, forcing you to remove dairy from your diet as a breastfeeding mom.

Or, baby may be fine with formula and breastmilk while you eat dairy products, but once you introduce solids and dairy to baby, the symptoms start.

While the CDC doesn’t recommend offering cows’ milk to your baby until 12 months, dairy includes much more than milk.

Dairy sensitivity can cause irritability or fussiness, digestion troubles, skin issues, respiratory reactions, and in more severe cases, failure to gain weight.

While it’s always important to check with your baby’s doctor first, dairy may be the culprit for some of these issues.

Fortunately, your baby’s diet can be modified to receive the nutrients in dairy foods still, while following a dairy free diet for baby. Whether your baby has a cow’s milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance, there are many dairy-free alternatives you can try.

We have several dairy-free recipes for babies that you can depend on, that have been vetted by Registered Dietitians.

Today’s post will give you a rundown on the different types of dairy sensitivities and provide you with dairy-free snacks for babies.

What are Dairy Foods?

Dairy foods are any foods made with cow’s milk, but isn’t just limited to milk as a beverage.

They include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Kefir
  • Ice cream
  • Butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Whipping cream
  • Half and half
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Evaporated milk
  • Whey protein
variety of dairy foods

Dairy foods are known for providing protein, fat (depending on the type of dairy/fat chosen), calcium, potassium, B-Vitamins, and possibly probiotics and Vitamin D.

So, dairy products can provide a plethora of important nutrients, so ensuring babies can receive them through dairy-free products is important (and they can!).

What is a Dairy Sensitivity?

Simply put, a dairy sensitivity is a reaction to dairy products. It can be either a milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance.

So, what’s the difference?

Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA)

If your baby has a cow’s milk protein allergy or CMPA, they have an immune response to the protein found in dairy.

The proteins in cow’s milk include casein and whey. In some people, these proteins are unrecognized by the body.

Instead, the immune system classifies those proteins as harmful and will launch an immune attack. That’s where the allergy symptoms come in.

Refrigerator with different milk options

Allergy symptoms often present as eczema or rashes, vomiting, bellyaches, diarrhea, and wheezing or breathing troubles.

Those who are severely allergic may be at risk for anaphylaxis, or a closing of the airways. This is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

Preterm infants are at a higher risk for developing a cow’s milk allergy.

Treatment includes avoiding the allergen. Breastfeeding is considered the first choice for feeding options.

However, that doesn’t mean that dairy is completely off-limits to you as a breastfeeding mom.

mom breastfeeding baby on bench

One large review of the research revealed that the amount of cow’s milk protein that remains in breastmilk is quite low, but always check with your doctor as each mom is an individual.

The researchers found that in more than 99% of the baby’s with CMPA, there was insufficient allergens in the breastmilk to cause a reaction.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is the natural sugar in milk. Lactose intolerance refers to an inability to properly digest the lactose in milk.

Normally, the digestive system uses the enzyme lactase to break down the lactose into usable sugar for the body. That sugar then enters the bloodstream and is used as fuel for the body’s function.

baby eating asparagus at table

In lactose intolerance, your body lacks that enzyme. As a result, the lactose is undigested and can wreak havoc in the gut.

Diarrhea, gas, cramping, and bloating are common lactose intolerance symptoms.

Because lactose intolerance develops over time, babies don’t often have lactose intolerance.

Dairy Ingredients to Look For

When your child has a food sensitivity, label reading is key, and you will become a pro at looking at every detail to avoid a possible reaction.

According to Go Dairy Free, some dairy ingredients to beware of include:

  • Ammonium Caseinate
  • Butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Buttermilk Powder
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Casein
  • Caseinate (in general)
  • Cheese (All animal-based)
  • Condensed Milk
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Delactosed Whey
  • Demineralized Whey
  • Dry Milk Powder
  • Dry Milk Solids
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Ghee
  • Goat Cheese
  • Goat Milk
  • Half & Half
  • Hydrolyzed Casein
  • Hydrolyzed Milk Protein
  • Iron Caseinate
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Low-Fat Milk
  • Magnesium Caseinate
  • Malted Milk
  • Milk
  • Milk Derivative
  • Milk Fat
  • Milk Powder
  • Milk Protein
  • Milk Solids
  • Natural Butter Flavor
  • Nonfat Milk
  • Nougat
  • Paneer
  • Potassium Caseinate
  • Recaldent
  • Rennet Casein
  • Sheep Milk
  • Sheep Milk Cheese
  • Skim Milk
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Sour Cream
  • Sour Milk Solids
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Sweet Whey
  • Whey
  • Whey Powder
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Whey Protein Hydrolysate
  • Whipped Cream
  • Whipped Topping
  • Whole Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Zinc Caseinate
woman in grocery store reading food label

Dairy Free Alternatives for Babies

Fortunately, many there are many dairy free products on the market, whether you need dairy free formula, dairy free snacks for babies, or dairy free meals.

In the last 5-10 years, the grocery store shelves have exploded with dairy free options.

You can find an alternative for almost any dairy product you can think of – here’s a great break down of the nutritional differences between dairy and alternative milks.

jar of almond milk

For example, canned coconut milk makes an excellent replacement in recipes that call for milk.

It’s creamy and high in fat, which is good for developing babies. Plus it’s shelf-stable.

Then there are other plant-based milks like:

  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Oat milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk
  • Flax milk
Almond milk offerings in grocery store refrigerator

There are also nondairy yogurt alternatives, such as coconut or almond milk yogurt. We have some recommended non dairy yogurts for baby to still get the probiotic benefits.

In addition, dairy free cheese is an option for babies that can’t tolerate dairy cheese. You can also use nutritional yeast to give your dish a cheesy flavor without the dairy.

Lastly, as a dairy free butter alternative, you can use coconut oil, or vegetable oil spreads (although those often have whey or other dairy ingredients, so do a thorough investigation).

Will My Child Grow Out of a Dairy Sensitivity?

The good news is that most babies grow out of cow’s milk allergies as they get older.

To overcome dairy sensitivity, it is recommended to institute a gradual exposure to dairy foods.

This is something you should work through with your child’s pediatrician, a Registered Dietitian, andor an allergist.

baby eating dinner from ezpz plate

Prepackaged Dairy Free Snacks for Baby

It’s nice to have some prepackaged dairy free snacks on hand for when you’re on-the-go.

While it may not be easy to find things at the gas station or convenience store, you can have your diaper bag stocked.

Here are some ideas:

Dairy Free Snacks for Babies

It’s also pretty easy to prep dairy free snacks at home, especially if you have core dairy free pantry staples on hand.

egg muffins for baby on white plate with blue striped napkin

Here are some easy dairy free options for baby.

I’ve also rounded up some dietitian-approved recipes that are dairy-free and great for baby. Some have modifications listed, such as “omit the cheese.”

Dairy Free Recipes for Babies

If your baby has a dairy allergy or intolerance, these dairy free recipes for babies can help you nourish your little one without the stress.

References:

  • Burris AD, Burris J, Järvinen KM. Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy in Term and Preterm Infants: Clinical Manifestations, Immunologic Pathophysiology, and Management Strategies. Neoreviews. 2020;21(12):e795-e808. doi:10.1542/neo.21-12-e795
  • Munblit D, Perkin MR, Palmer DJ, Allen KJ, Boyle RJ. Assessment of Evidence About Common Infant Symptoms and Cow’s Milk Allergy. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(6):599–608. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0153
  • Trogen B, Jacobs S, Nowak-Wegrzyn A. Early Introduction of Allergenic Foods and the Prevention of Food Allergy. Nutrients. 2022;14(13):2565. Published 2022 Jun 21. doi:10.3390/nu14132565
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