Can I train a lactose intolerant baby to digest breast milk?

Diana - posted on 07/09/2009 ( 14 moms have responded )




My baby boy is a little over a month old now. He has always very liquidly poop. He passes lots of gas along with pooping. Almost 90% liquid. And he always cries loudly right before each bowl movement. So we suspect he is really lactose intolerant just as his father is. How do we know for sure? And can babies be trained to become tolerant or do we need to switch to lactose free formula? I should mention that although with all the cries and gas, diarrhea, he has been gaining weight since birth.


Minnie - posted on 07/10/2009




True congenital lactose intolerance (galactosemia) is very rare. Lactose intolerance is actually a normally occuring condition- most of the world's adult population is lactose intolerant. That's because milk is a nutritional substance for the young of a species.

Infants can indeed have a cow's milk protein allergy- but it would be a rare one who is lactose intolerant- that's because human milk has a very high percentage of the sugar lactose, which is responsible for brain development. If he had galactosemia you would notice a failure to thrive.

Liquid poo is completely normal in a breastfed infant.

If you think he's gassy you should make sure you dont' have a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. Baby gets too much foremilk which ends up in a lactose overload- meaning too much lactose for the baby to process in the normal amount of time.

It is not an issue of 'human lactose' as opposed to 'bovine lactose' but an issue of cow's milk proteins as opposed to human milk proteins that cause an allergy. Proteins are the allergens, not sugars.

But he doesn't appear to have a cow's milk protein allergy either. If anything, he's got gas because 1. He has an immature gut 2. You possibly have a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance that can be regulated by block feeding


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I should add that I persisted with breastfeeding until she decided enough was enough at around 2 years 10 months. She's just turned 8 years of age and is doing well at school etc, but is still very thin for her age. She is full of energy though so I've obviously not messed up too badly!

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My first child was lactose intolerant. Seriously. She always vomitted right after or during feeding and often it seemed to be more in volume than what she had consumed. Her weight gain was a serious issue. The Health Visitor I had at the time was useless and obviously didn't believe I was feeding the baby at all. I was, almost continuously. We had to change her clothes 10 times a day right from birth, and the bedclothes repeatedly through the night. I used to make the bed with 6 or more layers of sheets so I could just remove one and go back to bed without having to replace one. Serious lactose intolerance is rare, but her father was violently lactose intolerant as an adult. Health Visitor (once finally convinced there was a problem) said she'd outgrow the intolerance by 6 months, but she was about 5 years before it ceased.

Paige - posted on 07/15/2009




Blockfeeding is nursing on one side for a certain amount of time (I think the recommended starting time is 2 hours) even if baby has more than one nursing session in that time. Then nurse on the opposite side for that same block of time. If you don't see results in a day or two, increase the block of time a bit. I did this when my daughter was having foremilk-hindmilk problems and it worked within a day or two.

Diana - posted on 07/15/2009




Thanks so much for all the detailed response. I will definitely try to cut out my own diary intake and balancing fore and hind milk. Not sure what "block feeding" is though.

Dani - posted on 07/11/2009




You don't say if you are currently breastfeeding. To fully protect your baby ideally breastfeeding would be the best option. If you feel he truly has a sensitivity to lactose then you need to cut out all milk and dairy products from your diet and see if your baby's gassiness improves after a week or two. The poop should be liquid and bright yellow - but shouldn't be painful to pass. Also, there are other foods to limit when you are breastfeeding - citrus fruits cause a lot of gassiness and tummy upset in babies - the effect passes very easily via breastmilk. Other foods to consider moderating would be spicy foods; chicken; lentils; broccolli; cauliflower; highly processed foods. If you eat healthily and a well-balanced diet your baby will benefit. Hope this helps.

Courtney - posted on 07/11/2009




My newest girl is milk sensitve. If I have too much dairy, she gets dark green stools, and becomes very stuffy and mucusy. If I don't have any dairy, her stools return to the usual yellow color and her stuffiness clears up. I did some reading on the internet about the symtoms she had. I also confirmed it with her doc. He said to eliminate dairy for a while, but to try it once a month or so to see if she had grown out of it. Remember, your baby eats what you eat. Before trying formula, try to adjust your diet, if you want to continue breast feeding.

Michelle - posted on 07/10/2009




my baby can't have milk i just took it out of my diet and sh'es still nursing

Kami - posted on 07/10/2009




My oldest was sensitive to dairy products and as long as I did not eat or drink any milk based products she was fine. By the time she was six months old I could have dairy products again. You might want to talk to you doctor about food's that you eat that could upset the baby. Good luck!

Brenda - posted on 07/10/2009




Gassiness and liquid poop are very normal in BF babies. I would ask the doctor, but if he is gaining weight and not spitting up constantly, he is probably fine. He's missing some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance (which is usually milk protein allergy as a baby).

Heather - posted on 07/10/2009




both of my children had milk issues. My son was lactose intolerant, my daughter protein intolerant. I eliminated, with my son, all cow's milk based products except yogurt- something about he way it's processed it was ok. With my daughter I eliminated all milk products including whey and casein which are milk proteins. My son grew out of it eventually (he's 5) my daughter, we started introducing milk at 1yr. Her issue was her digestive system was just too immature (she was born full term) to digest the milk. All breastfed babies so have liquidly poop and gas. Try eliminating all milk products and you'll know w/in a wk if it's working. Have you talked to your pedi?

Jennifer - posted on 07/10/2009




Breastfed babies poop is VERY liquidy! I wondered if my son had diahrea when he was little 'cause I just didn't know any better. If he is lactose intolerant you should eliminate dairy from your diet. That way he is not receiving dairy through your milk. Human lactose is not the same as bovine lactose, which is what is in dairy products. All babies have alot of gas and cry. I know blood in the stool can be one symptom of lactose intolerance. I would ask your doctor. Here is a link I found that might be of interest to you.

Dbiles - posted on 07/09/2009




all breastfed babies have very liquidy poop and young babies are very gassy b/c of their immature digestive systems; have you eliminated milk from your diet? if you're not drinking milk, that should help

Cynthia - posted on 07/09/2009




you kno i dont really think im replying, this is probably just a comment on our babies being lactose...but i also think my son is lactose because he doesnt digest formula or breastmilk, he probably has 1 bowel movement a day and will hav 1 good day a wk with 3 or 4 poops...he is also gaining weight normally but i dont kno wut do either...

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