Milk Allergy Diet for Children

General guidelines for milk allergy

When your child has a food allergy, they must follow an allergy-free diet. This means your child can't have the food they are allergic to or any products containing that food. The items that your child is allergic to are called allergens.

A milk allergy is the body's abnormal response to the proteins found in cow's milk. Milk allergy is most common among infants and young children. As they get older, many children will outgrow a milk allergy. Milk and milk products are found in many foods. People often think of milk as an ingredient in cream, cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt. Milk and milk products may also be hidden sources in commonly eaten foods. To stay away from foods that contain milk products, you must read all food labels.

Milk is an important source of calcium. Your child needs calcium for healthy bones, teeth, and nerves. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about foods with calcium that you can give to your child. Some examples are green leafy vegetables, orange juice with calcium added, figs, tofu, and dried beans.

Important information about not consuming milk and milk products

  • The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) is a law that requires food products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to state clearly on the label if they contain milk.

  • The word "nondairy" on a product label means it does not contain butter, cream, or milk. But the product may have other milk-containing ingredients.

  • The word "lactose-free" on a product label does not mean dairy-free. The product may still have milk or milk products. Always read the whole label to be sure.

  • Kosher food labeled "pareve" or "parve" almost always means that the food is free of milk and milk products. A "D" on a product label next to the circled "K" or "U" means there is milk protein. Don't use these products.

  • Foods that don't contain milk could be contaminated during manufacturing. Advisory statements are not regulated by the FDA. They are voluntary. These include labels such as "processed in a facility that also processed milk" or "made on shared equipment." Ask your healthcare provider if you can eat foods with these labels. Or you may need to stay away from them. Some foods and products are not covered by the FALCPA law. These include:

    • Foods that are not regulated by the FDA

    • Cosmetics and personal care items

    • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements

    • Pet foods

  • Processed meats often contain milk or are processed on milk-containing lines. This includes hot dogs, sausages, and lunch meats.

The lists below may not include all products that could contain milk. But they can help guide your food decisions. It is up to you to carefully read all food labels.



Not allowed


Carbonated drinks



Soy substitute-milk formulas, water

Fruit drinks

All milks (whole, low-fat, skim, buttermilk, evaporated, condensed, powdered, hot cocoa)

Yogurt, eggnog, milkshakes, malts

All drinks made with milk or milk products


Milk-free breads

French bread (water-based)

Wheat, white, rye, corn, graham, gluten, and soy breads made without milk or milk products

Graham crackers or rice wafers

Wheat, white, or rye breads

Biscuits, donuts, muffins, pancakes, waffles, zwieback, crackers, saltines, rusk

Most commercially made breads and rolls contain milk or milk products

French toast made with milk


Any cereal that does not have added milk or milk products

High-protein cereals

Prepared and precooked cereals with milk solids, casein, or other milk products added


Meringue, gelatin, ice pops, fruit ice, fruit whip, angel food cake

Cakes, cookies, and pie crusts made without milk or milk products

Cake, cookies, custard, pudding, cream desserts, or sherbet containing milk products

Ice cream, cream pie

Pastries brushed with milk, junket, popover


Prepared without milk

Scrambled with milk, creamed eggs, egg substitutes


Vegetable oil, meat fat, lard, bacon, shortening, milk-free gravy

Peanut butter (made without milk solids)

Margarine without milk solids

Kosher margarine

Butter, cream, margarine

Salad dressing or mayonnaise containing milk, milk solids, or milk products

Some butter substitutes and nondairy creamers


Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and juices

Any served with milk, butter, or cream

Meats, fish, poultry, and cheese

Baked, broiled, boiled, roasted or fried: beef, veal, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, fish, organ meats, or tofu (prepared without milk or milk products)

Sausage, deli or lunch meats, or ham if made without milk products

A small number of people with cow's milk allergy may develop a reaction to beef. People with cow's milk allergy should be careful when having beef or foods containing beef. 

All cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese

Some sausage products, bologna, hot dogs

Breaded meats, meatloaf, croquettes, casseroles, hamburgers (unless made without milk)

Commercial entrees made with milk or milk solids

Potatoes and substitutes

Macaroni, noodles, spaghetti, rice

White or sweet potatoes made without milk, butter, cream, or allowed margarine

Au gratin, buttered, creamed, scalloped potato, or substitutes

Macaroni and cheese

Mashed potatoes made with milk or butter

Frozen French fries sprayed with lactose


Bouillon, broth, consommé, or soups with broth base plain or with all allowed foods

Bisques, chowders, creamed soups

All soups made with milk or milk products


Corn syrup, honey, jam, jelly

Hard candy, candy made without milk or milk products

Granulated, brown or powdered sugar

Candy made with milk, such as chocolate, fudge, caramels, nougat


All fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables without milk or milk products added

All vegetable juices

Au gratin, buttered, creamed, or scalloped vegetables

Batter and dipped vegetables

Vegetable souffles


Ketchup, olives, pickles, nuts, herbs, chili powder, salt, spices, condiments

Any foods that have no milk, cheese, or butter. Also foods that don't have powdered milk or whey.

All items containing milk, cheese, butter, whey casein, caseinates, hydrolysates, lactose, lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, milk solids, or artificial butter flavor

Nondairy substitutes containing caseinate

How to read a label for a milk-free diet

Don't have foods that contain any of the following ingredients:

  • Artificial butter flavor

  • Butter, butter fat

  • Buttermilk

  • Casein

  • Caseinates (ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium)

  • Cheese, cottage cheese, curds

  • Cream

  • Custard, pudding

  • Ghee

  • Half-and-half (a blend of whole milk and light cream)

  • Hydrolysates (casein, milk protein, protein, whey, whey protein)

  • Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate

  • Lactoglobulin

  • Lactose

  • Lactoferrin

  • Milk (derivative, protein, solids, malted, condensed, evaporated, dry, whole, low-fat, nonfat, skim)

  • Nougat

  • Pudding

  • Rennet casein

  • Sour cream

  • Sour cream solids

  • Whey (delactosed, demineralized, protein concentrate)

  • Yogurt

Other possible sources of milk or milk products

  • Brown sugar flavoring

  • Caramel candies

  • Caramel flavoring

  • Chocolate

  • High-protein flour

  • Lunch meats, hot dogs, sausages 

  • Margarine

  • Natural flavoring

  • Milk-based fat substitutes

Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.