Is My Baby Lactose Intolerant? Maybe Not.

A fussy baby will undoubtedly make an already tired and frazzled mom feel even more anxious. If we suspect something’s not quite right with our little one, often our first inclination is to ask our mom friends.

“Did this happen to little Jimmy, too?”

If we feel like our sweetie is the only infant in the world suffering from this particular problem, we’ll likely reach out to the pediatrician. We may even offer up our own ideas about what we suspect the problem is. But we might be completely wrong.


One such issue that is often considered is baby must have a lactose intolerance. Turns out, that’s rather unlikely.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LACTOSE INTOLERANCE 

Lactation Consultant Joy Anderson writes on the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s website that there are many myths associated with babies and lactose intolerance.

Anderson notes that:

  • a mom who stops eating dairy will not have less lactose in her breast milk
  • lactose intolerance in babies is vastly different from that in adults
  • babies who exhibit lactose intolerance symptoms should not be weaned
  • lactose intolerance is not the same as an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk protein. 

That last point is key. If a baby had actual lactose intolerance – a rare genetic condition – you’d probably know. Baby would be sickly right from the start.

If an infant has a milk protein intolerance, she states, that might mean mom should cut out the dairy for a time and see what impact it has.

As with all health concerns, it’s best to check with a doctor before doing anything. But forewarned is forearmed, right?

According to the Women's and Children's Health Network, babies who seem to be "lactose intolerant" may actually be getting a lactose overload. While infants might be uncomfortable, it would not be necessary to stop breastfeeding. 

Anderson goes on to mention that if baby is suffering from an allergy to a food protein, that can actually result in a secondary lactose intolerance. Very confusing! But in that case, she says, mom would not have to stop breastfeeding baby and furthermore, a secondary intolerance is temporary.

UPDATE: If you do have concerns that baby might suffer from a cow's milk protein allergy, there are resources readily available. The U.K.-based Is It a Cow's Milk Allergy website is a great starting point with lots of information for mamas. 

 

The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.