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Cow’s milk protein allergy - when is my little one ready for a plant-based milk?

Updated: May 15

Cow’s milk protein allergy

Cow’s milk protein allergy


Public health recommendations in the UK for the general population (not our little allergy kiddies) recommend introducing whole cow's milk as a drink from 1 year of age. This was updated in 2023 to also include semi-skimmed milk too. Skimmed or 1% milk should not be given before 5 years of age (SACN, 2023).


But what about our little ones with allergy?


“After 1 year consideration can be given to adding plant-based drink (supplemented with micronutrients), depending on growth & overall nutrition.”   (GA2LEN, 2022)


BUT, not all babies will be ready to move onto plant-based milks at 1 year:


  • Breastfed infants Where breastfeeding is well established, these babies tend to initially refuse a plant-based milk. If mum and baby are happy to continue breastfeeding, then there is no need to introduce a milk as a drink at this stage.


  • Concerns regarding growth I would not recommend introducing a plant-based milk as a drink at 1 year of age if there are concerns regarding growth. I would recommend that these babies continue to take their specialist formula or continue breast feeding until 2 years of age. These babies need a referral to a paediatric dietitian with experience in allergy for as assessment and support.


  • There are also those little ones who refuse to drink it. 



For the little ones listed above, a suitable plant milk can still be added to foods, to boost their intake of key nutrients and help then get used to the taste. Dairy free yoghurts and cheeses can also be included in the diet. Remember not all dairy free yoghurts are fortified with calcium, and it's hard to find one fortified with iodine. It's important to look for non-organic varieties as these are fortified with calcium. Especially if your little one is refusing a plant-based milk.


Your little one is ready to have a plant-based milk as a drink when they achieve the following:


1) They need to be eating enough - achieving 2/3 of their energy from a varied solid diet.

2) Gets sufficient protein/fat/ micronutrients from diet & milk substitute

3) Consumes no more than 500mls of milk substitute - anymore than this and they won't be eating enough.

4) Eats age-appropriate textures

5) No feeding difficulties

6) No micronutrient deficiencies


If you are unsure as to whether your baby is ready for a plant-based milk - get in touch!

Look out for my next blog on choosing a suitable plant-based milk.










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