Dairy Free for the Baby

I have “Midwestern”in my bones. Casseroles = hot dishes. Snowy nights. “You betcha”. And drinking cow’s milk like it’s my job.

Throughout my first pregnancy, I drank several whey protein shakes a day. Whey protein comes from cow’s milk, specifically, fyi. It’s one of the proteins found in cow’s milk, along with casein. While nursing my newborn, I continued the protein drink regimen because it was filling, healthy, and gave me plenty of protein to keep up my supply. He was a miserable newborn, and the culprit: whey protein.

This is a common problem. There have been several medical studies done to support what I’m about to say: whey protein causes colic in many, MANY newborns. Why? Tiny human digestive systems aren’t meant to break down these kinds of proteins. If you think about it, cows have FOUR stomachs. Their milk is meant for their calves, who have digestive enzymes to break down whey and casein proteins found in cow’s milk. A significant portion of the population, as adults, has digestive issues associated with the consumption of cow’s milk. Humans are the only animals who willingly drink another mammal’s milk (except when necessitated, like when a little kitten is orphaned…). Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying infants are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a kind of sugar found in cow’s milk, not a protein. Furthermore, an inability to digest whey protein isn’t an allergy, it’s an inability to digest whey protein. I’m not talking about a rash, I’m talking about gut wrenching pain from rotten, undigested proteins creating gas in the intestines in a little baby.

Got it? Good.

Both my mother and mother in law have reported that Captain Laser Pants and I were VERY colic-y babies. Upon inspection, I found out that both our mothers consumed dairy while nursing (my dad later told me I was also on a formula supplement, and most infant formulas, especially from 29 years ago, were cow- milk based). Whey protein intolerance is genetic. So, when our pediatrician and pediatric gastrointestinoligist (that’s a mouthful) finally discovered the culprit of my always- in- pain- never stops crying- newborn, I stopped nursing immediately (milk proteins can stay in your system for a long time, and I wasn’t able to cut it out of my diet) and switched to a pretty pricey formula (called Nutramigen). After burning through $2,000 in formula in the first year of our baby boy’s life, CLP and I knew that if we were to have a second child, the second baby would a) have a 95% chance of having the same intolerance to whey and b)I would have to quit dairy entirely before the kiddo was born.

That being said, ya’ll, I love to cook. And bake. And drink milk, and eat cheese, and donuts, and ice cream. And although I know how unhealthy cow’s milk is (cows are getting dosed with growth hormones to produce way more milk these days, and this hormone is linked to early puberty in girls as well as a higher likelihood of contracting prostate cancer in men), it just tastes so creamy and yummy. But I’m combating this deep seeded desire to consume a gallon of milk a day with other options.I’m swapping the dairy habit for things like dairy free creamer in my coffee, almond milk for cereal and baking, and coconut oil or olive oil for cooking. I can make ice cream with frozen bananas and make fudge without a smidgen of dairy (I even made raw vegan chocolate pudding and -gasp- liked it!). Some days are hard, cause I really REALLY want to bite into a Hershey’s Symphony chocolate bar, but mostly, I’m able to curb the cravings. Tonight I made chicken tortilla soup for dinner, with which we usually have sour cream and shredded cheese to accompany the bed of crumbled tortilla chips and delicious soup. I opted for chopped avocado instead, and while it wasn’t the same, it was still pretty dang good. It’s not easy, but with the exception of a candy bar, I’ve pretty much found a solution to each dairy problem. To keep up my protein intake, I’m doing an all natural egg white protein shake to replace my whey protein- great for after workouts or when I need to consume some calories and feel full. Homemade cakes don’t need cow’s milk or butter. There are dairy free creamers out there for coffee.

And, really, knowing that $2,000+ won’t be going toward formula next year, and knowing that this will be something we will avoid with our second little guy, I already feel great about going dairy free.



About mombieconfessions

I am a sarcastic mom, tried and true INTJ, my DISC profile has a high D and C with low I and S, and I'm a quirky geek (love me some Star Wars, BSG, Firefly, Dr, Who and comic books!). When I grow up I want to be an Amazon warrior with super powers and an awesome costume. Music and literature are passions, cooking and baking are hobbies, and writing a blog (such as this one) is both a cathartic release and documentation of the growth of my family and myself. View all posts by mombieconfessions

13 responses to “Dairy Free for the Baby

  • Mary Sue

    Jaw hits floor. I don’t know if I could do that. My hat is off to you. Fo realz.

  • Ruth Warren

    Way to go girl! And thanks for the very informative lesson on whey and the fact that it is not an allergy. A very minor detail though…. Your Dad has a terrible memory….. I nursed you until you were 18 months old. I never had you on formula. But I did give you bottles of milk sometimes. And I did drink a lot of milk and I do love cheese! So sorry kid! Way back then, we didn’t have a clue I guess! I am so thankful that now we have this information!

    • mombieconfessions

      It was an oddly specific thing for him to remember …haha! No harm no foul. The medical journals I sifted through while researching this condition started reporting studies in the 80s, but people didn’t readily have access to information like that the way we do now. And even if you, or anyone, had known about this, I don’t think it would have done much good. It takes a while to leave breast milk, and formula, even now, is largely based on cow’s milk. Oh well!

  • Jennifer

    I experienced the same issue with two of my three children. I didn’t cut dairy out while I was pregnant, but as soon as they became extremely fussy while nursing, I took that as a cue and stopped eating dairy. The change was unbelievable. Kuddos to you for going the extra mile and cutting the dairy out while you are pregnant. Did you know you can substitute silken tofu for heavy cream in just about any dish? Puree the tofu until it is creamy and add the same amount of tofu that the recipe calls for in cream. Works great! Happy pregnancy!

  • Chris

    You are actually right on. Whey protein is the only substance consistently found to bother some babies. It actually takes about 10 days to 2 weeks of being dairy free to see a change in baby (which in crying baby time is AGES). Every baby is different so you actually might not have any problems with baby #2 even though it would be a good idea to take precaution. I would say once your milk supply is established you can gradually start adding dairy into your diet and see how baby tolerates it, most of the time you can have some dairy without adverse effects, I see it all the time at work (not random info I am registered dietitian and lactation counselor hiihii)

    • mombieconfessions

      There isn’t much I enjoy more than research, so I definitely did my homework on this one. From the medical journals I read, it looked like the likelihood of the second child having this whey protein intolerance is about 95%, especially with a genetic link. Our oldest wasn’t able to tolerate regular milk until he was over 18 months old, so better safe than sorry with this one! As much as I miss cheese and donuts, I’d hate to introduce anything and see our littlest in pain. I’m so glad you’re actually in the medical field and gave this post the thumb’s up! Thanks for reading.

  • st sahm

    Thanks to our Holy Father that I don’t have a newborn right now with the mental exhaustion and anxiety of providing proper prenatal nutrition. That being said I’m supporting you with prayers, my friend.

    Allergen debates frustrated me then and now. Isn’t the (JAMA) Pediatric Association pushing the consumption of peanuts and all tree nuts for expecting mothers right now? But when I was pregnant from 03-06 they warned against the dangers of ALL tree nut, soy and whey proteins. GAH?!

    Surprised no one “attacked” you for mentioning your coffee consumption. I also drank coffee during pregnancy and none of my children have central nervous system disorders or other issues they swore on a million graves were related.

    Best of luck. You obviously know what you’re doing by now.

    • mombieconfessions

      Sometimes the JAMA “suggestions” and other old wives tales are laughable. Billions of women have delivered normal, healthy babies after eating raw fish, nuts, drinking coffee, and yes, consuming drugs and alcohol. On that note, regulations will never become more lax. When mini Gwinn was born, the rule for forward facing car seats was a year. Shortly after, it was two years. Kids have to be in car seats til they hit puberty. I suppose caution saves lives and lawsuits, but it’s totally out of hand now. And I dare someone to question my coffee intake. Bring it. They do not want me to go she Hulk on them. >;) Are you guys thawed out yet?

  • st sahm

    New idea for JAMA why not have pregnant mothers in car seats for double layered fetal protection because wombs just aren’t good enough!

    Raining today but almost 50 degrees so we can deal with that…

    When’s your edd?

    • mombieconfessions

      Oh my gosh! If they could expect to make any woman at 38 weeks pregnant conform to anything other than putting on clothes in public, more power to them. Husband said he’s scared of me if I go past 37 weeks. Raining but 50s is better than ice! About the same here. Edd is May 9. My money’s on April 30.

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