How should a baby with lactose intolerance be fed?

How should a baby with lactose intolerance be fed?


The diet of a baby with lactose intolerance varies according to the type of intolerance. Babies under 6 months and with congenital lactose intolerance cannot receive breast milk, and the use of lactose-free infant formulas is recommended, as advised by the pediatrician.

Babies under 6 months of age and with secondary lactose intolerance, a type of intolerance that arises due to damage to the intestine caused by rotavirus or gastroenteritis, for example, can receive breast milk.

From 6 months onwards, which is the phase when other foods are introduced into the baby’s diet, it is important to also offer foods rich in calcium such as sardines, watercress, chickpeas and spinach. See other foods rich in calcium.

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How should the diet be

The diet of a baby with lactose intolerance varies depending on the type of intolerance.

1. Congenital lactose intolerance

This type of intolerance is a rare genetic change that occurs when the baby’s body cannot produce lactase, which is the enzyme responsible for the digestion and absorption of lactose. Learn more about the types of lactose intolerance.

In this case, the baby should not be breastfed, and the use of lactose-free infant formulas is recommended, such as Nan SL, lactose-free Aptamil ProExpert or Enfamil O-Lac Premium, as prescribed by the pediatrician.

Already in the food introduction phase, from 6 months onwards, it is important to include foods that are sources of calcium in the baby’s diet, such as sardines, spinach, beans and chickpeas. However, you should avoid offering foods containing lactose to your baby, such as yogurt, cheese and milk.

2. Secondary lactose intolerance

This type of intolerance can be temporary and is caused by damage to the intestinal cells that are responsible for the production of lactase, as in the case of prematurity, rotavirus or gastroenteritis, for example.

When feeding babies with secondary lactose intolerance, breastfeeding or lactose-free infant formula should be maintained, according to the pediatrician’s prescription.

From 6 months onwards, the nutritionist, or pediatrician, may recommend eating small portions of foods with lactose and observing whether the child presents symptoms. This is because the degree of this type of intolerance varies from one baby to another.

Furthermore, foods rich in lactose, such as milk and dairy products, are also great sources of calcium and vitamin D, which are essential nutrients for the baby’s growth and development.

Difference between normal colic and lactose intolerance

The main difference between normal colic in babies and the symptoms of lactose intolerance is the intensity of the symptoms and the frequency with which they appear.

Babies who only breastfeed may have colic throughout the day, but these colic do not appear after every feeding. Babies with lactose intolerance may experience abdominal distension, excess gas and diarrhea that begin about 30 minutes after each feeding.

How is lactose intolerance diagnosed in babies

The diagnosis of lactose intolerance in babies must be made by a pediatrician, who will evaluate the signs and symptoms presented by the child.

In addition, the pediatrician may also order some tests to confirm the diagnosis and the amount of lactase that the body still produces, such as a respiratory test and stool acidity test. Find out about lactose intolerance exams and tests.