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Dairy-Free Milk Alternatives for Toddlers

Need a dairy-free milk for your toddler with food allergy? 

We have great news! There are so many to choose from.

In this post, we’ll list several we’ve tried, plus we share what other milk allergy moms are choosing for their children.

As always, check with your doctors for recommendations, first. Then make sure you always check labels because ingredients vary and can change. 

See our list of milk alternatives for toddlers below!

 

dairy free milk alternative toddlers

 

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What kind of milk do I give my one-year-old who has milk allergy?

That’s such a common question of new food allergy moms.

And it’s definitely a question I had, as well.

Unfortunately, fifteen years ago, I didn’t have much to choose from.

But boy have times changed! 

I had this same pressing question when my son turned one.

Our pediatrician told us that milk is not as important as our culture makes it out to be. 

He suggested we get our calcium from leafy vegetables and our fats from oils, avocados, and beans.

But we still needed a “milk” for cooking, sometimes baking, smoothies, cereal, etc.

So here are the dairy-free milks we have done at our house.

DAIRY-FREE MILK ALTERNATIVES

RICE: Our first dairy-free milk option was rice milk, and I was thankful for something to work with. It was rather tasteless and pretty thin. So for some things, it was hard to work with. 

SOY: We soon moved to using soy milk for our family because it was thicker for cooking and baking and such. But it definitely had a stronger taste than rice milk. 

ALMOND: Eventually, almond milk came on the market. And we enjoyed that it was both thicker than rice milk and tastier than soy milk. We still use some almond milk to this day. Just make sure your child doesn’t have a tree nut allergy. 

CASHEW MILK: We never tried cashew milk because my son had a severe reaction to cashews at age seven. 

COCONUT MILK: I later discovered that I’m not only dairy intolerant but also allergic to almonds. So my own favorite milk has become coconut milk. Unsweetened is my favorite, and I love how thick it is. Perfect for my homemade lattes! And the rest of the family doesn’t mind it in baking and smoothies.

HEMP MILK: This is one we haven’t needed to try. But it’s out there, and we’d love to hear what you think!

FLAX MILK: We have dabbled in this one, but don’t buy it regularly. 

PEA MILK: Pea protein milk is one my boys and husband ended up really liking. It’s super thick and hubby thinks it’s really close to tasting like dairy milk. We keep some chocolate pea milk in the refrigerator for protein smoothies.

OAT MILK: This is our latest discovery and now my husband thinks IT’S the closest to tasting like dairy. Half our family now deems oat milk as their new favorite.

While hubby and oldest son like oat milk best, I’m a coconut milk fan, and younger kiddo is still sticking to almond milk.

Then we keep pea protein milk on hand, too, for the protein benefit.

You can imagine what my refrigerator looks like right about now, yeah?

I think some of the best advice I ever heard on dairy-free milk and kids is to keep things mixed up a little.

That’s great advice as I HAVE had my kids get sick of a milk that was going great for us.

Plus, it seems like every few years we hear some health downside to a milk alternative.

I figure mixing things up every once in awhile helps us keep everything in moderation. 

SUGAR IN DAIRY-FREE MILK

As you consider dairy-free milk for your toddler, I suggest paying attention to sugar content.

At first I didn’t think to do this because I didn’t really think to. 

Once I realized our dairy-free milk contained too much sugar for my kids, I moved to unsweetened almond original and unsweetened almond vanilla.

Fortunately, my boys made the transition ok.

Although, they do love chocolate pea protein milk sometimes!

Pro tip: I like to dilute the sweet chocolate milk down with unsweetened dairy-free milk.

They never know, ha ha. 

MILK ALLERGY MOM ANSWERS

I know it always helps to hear what other parents are doing in the way of giving milk to their dairy allergic kiddos.

So below I’ll share what some moms from our Facebook community are doing for dairy-free milk at their house.

Feel free to let us know your own experience in the comments, too. 

And as always, be sure to talk to your doctor about your best options. 

Jacqueline: We went to oat milk when we were ready to wean. Sweet and similar to breast milk. My LO refused soy and hemp, liked rice and coconut but we were advised by her chop nutritionist to use oat milk over rice and coconut for fat protein and calcium content. Now the whole family drinks it!

Stephanie: We went from breast milk to coconut milk, but my daughter would only drink the vanilla flavor.

Cara: But breast milk still carries all the “good stuff” for the duration of breastfeeding. Also, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life…so if you are able I️ would bfd as long as you can.

Ashley: Look into Ripple milk. I BF and give ripple milk.

Melissa: I nursed my daughter till she was almost 4. I removed her allergens from my diet the entire time. She is a happy, well adjusted 12 year old now.

Danielle: In my experience, baby will wean himself. No need to stop at 1 year. For us, I thought it was a good way to get safe protein in him as I was keeping his allergens out of my diet too.

Kelly: We went from breastmilk to hemp milk. My 3 year old is also egg and tree nut allergic. He still drinks hemp milk.

Sarah: After a year of BF we weaned her down onto almond milk and then recently switched to coconut milk…she is 4 now and still isn’t a huge fan of either it’s more for cooking baking and if she eats cereal.

Monica: We have used almond milk successfully as our replacement. In my experience, weaning goes best when baby is adding solids and eating those happily. We sort of crowded out nursing with solid food more than replacing it with another milk. My daughter dropped her last evening nursing around 14 mos.

Amy:  I only planned on a year but had a hard time finding him a milk so we didn’t stop until 17 months, which is when we found Ripple milk.

Katie: We went from bm to rice milk. We started by mixing half a and half. Also, I was exclusively pumping so I could not wait to be done and had a stash that lasted until 16 months, but if you are enjoying pumping/nursing do it for as long as you want. If you are done with it, just know there are several allergy friendly options 

Jess: Hemp milk is amazing nutrition wise.

Jennifer: We transitioned to almond milk and she is healthy and thriving as a 2.5 year old 

Meghan: My son is almost 2.5 years old and we still breast feed.. he has allergies to dairy soy eggs most fruits and now discovering an allergy to possibly oats and whole grains… he gets so miserable when he does accidentally eat something he can’t have. Breastfeeding seems to help sooth him. We aren’t ana though. We get a really bad itchy rash, blood in stool, super gassy and so miserable. He’s always been a healthy boy on the weight and height charts and doctor says breastfeeding has helped keep him well fed! Good luck with whatever you choose! There is a lot of options now days for milk alternatives.. which are great!

Bethany: Went a little over 2 years! But pumped the last 15 months because of some other medical issues and surgeries he had. We are ANA milk only. Is but was also to peas, soy and peanuts at the time. He outgrew those. But milk is still ANA. We transitioned to hemp milk but have since given him a huge variety of ‘non-milk milks’ and he tolerates them all and likes them. Except chocolate and vanilla flavors. He only likes the plain ! I choose them by which has most calories (he’s very small) and which has best macro mix and ingredients.

Natalie: We were well established with bf and my son was not interested in weaning and for us it didn’t seem like the alternatives outweighed the positives of continuing to bf. I gave him him coconut milk and some almond here and there. Not sure your personal circumstances for weaning at one but if it is just because he is one, maybe consider delaying a bit. My allergist advised that children with allergies like ours can be slower to progress to solids almost as a protective measure. My little guy didn’t get better with solids until around 15 months when he started walking. I hope that helps and good luck! PS when he was older we discovered flax milk and haven’t looked back..so tasty and packed with good stuff.

Alex: I think it’s a personal choice and would ask the advice of a child dietician who understands allergies. Dairy Milk in itself isn’t needed, there are many things you can feed your child and not feel like you have to be having a “milk” in your life. (Not a children’s blog but for myself, I’ve learned some things about food and how many veggies have protein and other sources of nutrients besides what I’ve grown up knowing, through Rebel Dietitian. She’s got some great lists. Either way I’d consult a dietician. With that said, I chose to breastfeed and we did so until age three. She loved water any hardly drank anything else except we’d use a non dairy milk for cooking or baking.

Desiree: We introduced soy milk. And we cooked with soy milk and when she drank just milk it was breast milk.

I love our community of moms!

We hope this info is helpful and that you can find the best dairy-free milk for your weening baby and growing toddler.

Thankfully, there are currently many choices!

Be sure to ask your doctors to point you in a good direction for your family. 

MORE READER QUESTIONS

 

Original Post 7-23-13

 

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Sathita S.

Wednesday 26th of July 2017

I just find out that my 15months old son allergic to cow's milk, nut, soybean, almond. I don't know which milk should i give it to my son. Last night i just introduced rice milk to him. it seems like he like it but im not so sure maybe he just hungry. I need to give him some formula too but i have no idea which one is good. Any suggestion?? Thank you

Jamie Kaufmann

Wednesday 26th of July 2017

Sathita, welcome. You may want to meet with a dietitian. We had to do that initially. Or there are ideas often mentioned on our Facebook page, too. Our private support group is another fantastic resource of helpful moms dealing with many allergies. milkallergymom.com/jointhegroup Thanks for the question!

Jen

Saturday 11th of February 2017

We have tried just about everything and my 4 year old is finally liking the So Delicious Original Coconut milk. We just found the chocolate coconut milk juice boxes and she's addicted! Lol

Jamie

Saturday 11th of February 2017

Thanks for sharing, Jen! That sounds delicious!

Renee

Tuesday 31st of January 2017

My daughter (22 months old) initially went from Nutramigen to Good Karma Flax plus protein. Recently I had no option other than to buy Ripple (pea milk) and I let her try it. She went from drinking 1-2 glasses of milk a day to 3-4! She absolutely loves the Original Ripple. Flax was better for cooking (has more of a cows milk consistency) but had a chemical like taste to me. Ripple is thicker than cows milk and has a funny after taste. I have not tried cooking with it yet. Things to remember- look for a good protein source, calcium and fat. DHA is a good extra freebie in some of the milk alternatives.

sheenae

Thursday 6th of July 2017

My baby loved the taste of Ripple too but unfortunately something in it caused her to have a reaction to it. i'm really at a loss for what kind of milk to give her. She can't have soy, coconut, or almond because of allergies. Hemp and Oat do not taste well. We've tried goat's milk she had an allergy to that too. I'm still breastfeeding at 18months but want to stop. She cries horribly, however, without a replacement. Any other suggestons?

jenny34

Thursday 4th of May 2017

Thank you for pointing out the protein problem. Beyond elecare jr & neocare jr, we can't find good/affordable milk alternative. I was excited to read your suggestion, Good Karma Flax plus protein, but it has pea protein. DS is allergic to milk, eggs, nuts, & peas. Has anyone found milk alternative we can use to get 20+ grams protein per day besides the formulas and soy? Our son is outgrowing the protein Nutramigen offers. Yes, Nutramigen Toddler would work but hoping we can find great milk alt at lower price. Maybe there is a protein powder we could add to coconut milk?

Jamie

Wednesday 1st of February 2017

Thank you for sharing!

Judith H

Thursday 1st of December 2016

My daughter drinks soy milk, I cook with rice milk, and we eat coconut milk yogurt.

blogging

Sunday 4th of September 2016

You're welcome Olivia. That's pretty good if you can use goat milk. Some say it's similar to cow. Glad you found something!

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