Sensitive little tummies – what does it mean if your toddler can’t stomach cow’s milk?

Posted in Nutrition.

That tell-tale moustache is an Aussie institution – our kids love their milk! But for some children, cow’s milk just isn’t an option. There’s a growing number of babies and children who aren’t allergic or intolerant, but just can’t stomach cow’s milk. Nutritionists say there are alternatives for kids with cow’s milk sensitivities, and ways to help ease painful symptoms.

Little upset tummies usually mean upset households. Toddlers and babies with a sensitivity to cow’s milk will soon let you know they feel bloated and constipated – and you’ll work out all on your own that they’re suffering with gas, loose stools or constipation and irritability.

Cow’s milk allergy or sensitivity?

Founder of Cadence Health and nutritionist with Bubs, Leanne Cooper, says it’s important parents understand the difference between a cow’s milk allergy, intolerance and sensitivity. She says:

  • An allergy is a reaction that involves the immune system, where our body sees a protein as a foreign body that poses a threat and should be eliminated. For example, a protein in milk causes your child’s body to mount an immune challenge which in turn leads to some of the signs and symptoms when a baby reacts.
  • There can be a number of reasons why a reaction to the protein occurs, though they can be hard to track down.
  • An intolerance is a reaction that doesn’t involve an immune response.
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking that they are easily separated – many of the signs and symptoms of intolerance are similar to an allergic response.
  • A good example of an intolerance regarding cow’s milk is lactose intolerance, in which most people can tolerate a certain amount of dairy before they begin to experience problems. In fact removing lactose altogether is not recommended as it can lead to your body making less lactase (which digests lactose in dairy products).

For parents who suspect their children may have an allergy to cow’s milk, the first step should be a visit to the doctor.

“If your little one needs to have specialised allergy investigations then your GP can refer you. Of course in the case where the reaction is severe go to your local hospital. Planning for infants and children who have a familial history of food allergies is best undertaken via a qualified health care professional.”

Reactions to cows’ milk sensitivity symptoms

There are a range of symptoms caused by reactions to cows’ milk that cause kids not to feel like themselves, including these:

  • Digestive discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Congestion
  • Colic
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Irritability
  • Eczema or skin rashes
  • Loose stools.

Those dealing with a sensitivity in the family may need to explore several options to find out more about their child’s condition. Leanne explains, “Sensitivity to cow’s milk is something that is a little less well researched, though there are increasing anecdotal stories … from people who have found that the easier-to-digest milks, such as goat’s milk, lead them to believe that they were sensitive to cow’s milk (though didn’t have an allergy or intolerance to it), or at least found it a little troublesome.”


What may help ease symptoms?

Leanne says there are several potentially helpful options, which have been backed by research:

  • Increasing omega-3 in the diet (ideally via food rather than supplements).
  • Ensuring adequate probiotics such as acidophilus from fermented foods like yoghurt and kefir. If you have compared toddler formulas you will see that most now contain both.
  • It does appear that the composition of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in goat’s milk make it easier to digest.

Leanne explains to Babyology that once allergy and intolerance have been ruled out, if children are still not responding well to cow’s milk, parents can give a natural alternative like goat’s milk a try.

“Out of a range of animal milks, goat’s milk has been shown to be one of the easiest to digest. And, while we are talking about the uniqueness of goat’s milk protein, it seems that this means that goat’s milk also has a less bitter taste to it. You may have noticed this when comparing cow’s milk feta to traditional goat’s milk feta.”


Bubs has developed a goat’s milk range that’s exclusively formulated for Aussie toddlers. Bubs Advanced Plus+ Goat Toddler Milk is made using the highest quality goat’s milk and goat whey protein, blended with essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, ARA, Omega-3 DHA and prebiotic GOS. The aim is to promote healthy growth and support young immune systems.

The reason many parents have switched their toddlers to Bubs’ goat’s milk products is because they’re easy to digest, so they’re the perfect natural alternative for little ones with sensitive tummies. As a bonus, Bubs’ goat’s milk products have a naturally sweet smell and creamy texture.

The fat and protein in goat’s milk is easier for the body to break down, and the goat’s milk protein in Bubs’ goat’s milk products actually forms a softer curd than cow’s milk protein. And this is where the magic happens, because it means as it travels through the digestive system it can be absorbed more gently. Digestion is also helped along by the smaller fat globules in goat’s milk – which break down faster.

Bubs’ goat milk products can be purchased at Big W, Healthy Life, Thomas Dux, Woolworths online (delivery to selected Sydney suburbs only), selected pharmacies and other retailers. Alternatively you can purchase directly from Bubs online store or download their mobile app to shop on the go. 

While goat’s milk products aren’t suitable for children with a diagnosed cow’s milk allergy, they may be helpful to toddlers with a sensitivity. However, it is always best to consult your medical practitioner if you think your child may have some intolerance to cow’s milk. More information on allergies and intolerances can be found at The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.

(This is a sponsored post for The Infant Food Co)


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