If you have found that for whatever reason, breastfeeding is not working out for you and your little one, you need to look for an alternative like formula milk. This approach works great with the majority of babies, but what about if your baby is lactose intolerant? How do you know which lactose free formula is right for them?

There are now more types of lactose-free formulas available than ever before and the choice can be overwhelming. And, when you can read so much conflicting information on the internet from different manufacturers and other sources, making the right choice seems impossible. However, with the right approach, you can be sure that you will make the right choice for your baby. With soy-based, lactose-free cow’s milk or even goats milk readily available, you just need to find what works best for your bundle of joy.

Continue reading to find out how to choose the correct lactose-free formula for your baby.

What Exactly Is Lactose-Free Formula?

It is easy to find all of the different types of lactose-free formula rather confusing. There are soy-based formulas, cow’s milk based, lactose-free formula and goat’s milk-based formulas available. It goes without saying that none of these contain lactose, however, the cow’s milk-based option will still contain cow’s milk protein.

Lactose is a milk sugar or carbohydrate. The lactose-free formulas are made by removing the lactose and then using another type of carbohydrate in its place.  The formulas, which are based on cow’s milk, still contain cow’s milk protein, which means that they are unsuitable for babies who are allergic to milk and not just lactose. Being allergic to lactose is unusual in babies and this allergy generally only develops when the child has reached two or three years of age.

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It is quite common for a baby to suffer from occasional bouts of diarrhoea. This can upset the balance of the enzymes that are needed to digest lactose, but this is not true lactose intolerance and it is only temporary. It does not mean that your baby needs to switch to lactose-free formula.  

Which Babies Require Lactose-Free Formula?

The American Academy of Paediatrics states that there are only two circumstances in which babies need a lactose free formula. One is the babies that have an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk and the second are babies that suffer from a rare condition known as galactosemia.

Galactosemia means that the baby has an allergy to galactose which is a sugar found in lactose. Babies with this disorder will not even be able to have breast milk from their mother and they need a lactose free formula instead.  It is standard practice now that your baby will have a blood test to screen for this when you are at the hospital so you do not have to worry about this particular outcome too much. Signs such as colic, bloody diarrhoea and a failure to thrive could indicate that your baby has a milk allergy.

Choosing The Right Lactose-Free Formula

Milk allergies are becoming more common so there are now more choices in lactose-free formula than ever before. A large proportion of babies with a true allergy to cow’s milk will also be allergic to soy so they will need to have a formula specific to their circumstances. Manufacturers are now making formula from goats’ milk, which could be a suitable option. There are also highly specialised formulas available for babies who have multiple allergies.

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When your baby is unwell, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that they are allergic to lactose. This may not be the case. If your baby needs a lactose free formula it is best to discuss this with your health care provider, as the choices out there can be baffling and the correct choice of formula is a very important decision for you and your baby.