Whether it's allergies, beliefs or personal preference as your reason, dairy free weaning can add extra challenges to the journey. Ours was not a choice, as our little one was diagnosed with a Cow's Milk Protein Allergy. So, right around the same time we were figuring out if he was ready to safely start weaning, we also had to start working out the do's and don'ts of a dairy diet.
Signs of Readiness for Weaning
The guidelines tell us it is best to wait until babies are 6 months old to begin weaning. Whilst all babies are individual and we can't apply a blanket rule for all, there are signs to look out for to make sure your baby is ready.
• Sit up unsupported.
• Reach out and grasp objects.
• Make chewing movements
• Take things to their mouth with good hand eye coordination
It can be so tempting to want to jump to the next milestone. But, if your baby isn't showing these signs of readiness, have the confidence to wait until they do.
Tips for Dairy Free Weaning
1. Consider Your Substitutes Carefully
There are plenty of cow's milk alternatives available, both animal and plant based. Consider the substitutes you choose carefully before you start. If you're choosing dairy free for allergy reasons, remember the proteins in sheep and goat's milk are similar. They often cause the same allergic response.
Some plant based alternatives, such as soy, can be pumped with hormones. You may decide you don't want this for your little one, so do your research.
2. Check and Double Check the Ingredients
Did you think of looking for milk on the ingredients list of deli meats? Me neither, but they have milk proteins used as a binder! Check the ingredients lists of everything. You'll find milk hiding in the least expected places. Fortunately for any dairy free parent, allergens are hi-lighted in bold on all packaging.
3. Find Your Local Supermarket's Free From
We live in a world where allergy sufferers are increasing, health consciousness is common and ethical eating is becoming a focus. All of this means a dairy free diet is well catered for by supermarkets "Free From" sections. You'll find two, one in the fridges, one on the shelves. With time you'll find lots of secret diary free products but in the beginning, make 'free from' your best friend. Even if you're not vegan, you can guarantee products labelled such will be suitable for your dairy free weaning.
4. Replace Those Lost Vitamins and Minerals
Dairy provides calcium, protein and vitamins D and B12. Removing dairy without replacing these things would leave your little one lacking in important nutrients. You can replace the protein with fish or meat. Calcium can be topped up with lots of oily fish, seeds, nuts and leafy greens. Fortified cereals, eggs and oily fish will help provide the vitamins D and B12. A good multi vitamin for your little one daily, can also give you peace of mind they aren't going without.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan.
Planning in advance will ensure you're never caught unprepared. Meal planning will help you create shopping lists for the ingredients you need. Keeping dairy free snacks in your cupboard will mean you've always got a quick hunger fix to hand. Packing a dairy free option in your bag when eating out will mean baby won't go hungry if there aren't suitable options on the menu.
Despite the challenges and extra considerations we've faced, dairy free weaning has had a fantastic start. Even though it's only the little one who has a dairy allergy, our whole family has seen and felt there are some benefits of cutting down on dairy. To anyone else on the, enjoy these dairy free weaning tips and good luck. Click Here to read more great blogs from Food Baby Blogs.