Could Your Baby Be Lactose Intolerant?

My youngest daughter has always had a problem with what you could call, um, rather fragrant diapers. 

In short, her dirty diapers are so awful that everyone–her grandmother, the babysitter, her aunt — have all commented on how foul-smelling her diapers are. And obviously, this news is not news to me. I am well aware of how awful her poop can be and I've long suspected that there is some digestive issues going on, but I've attributed them to the fact that she's been on so many rounds of antibiotics since she was born. (Another story for another day.)

I'm constantly terrified about her digestive system bacteria being wiped out, so I've tried putting her on probiotics to try to help with the problem, but it hasn't completely solved it. And one particular awful weekend, when she got yet another ear infection, she was so fussy that she refused to even drink her beloved bottle of milk. Although I nursed her for a year, she transitioned into taking a nightly bottle of milk to ease her into bedtime and it's a habit I never even really thought about. 

{ MORE: How Much Breast Milk Does Your Baby Drink? }

But a week without her daily bottle of milk and suddenly? Her dirty diapers had stopped. Now, of course, I'm thinking she has some kind of lactose intolerance that I never noticed before and along with having major mom guilt for not noticing sooner, I am wondering what the official signs of lactose intolerance is for a baby. So let's take a look, shall we?

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Image via Flickr/ nerissa's ring

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in order for us humans to absorb lactose, which is the primary carbohydrate found only in mammal's milk, we need some special parts of our small intestine to be working. Essentially, if all the parts aren't working properly, your baby might develop a lactose intolerance since the small intensive literally can't digest it normally. 

An intolerance is directly related to the lactose, while an allergy is actually related to the protein found in the milk, so they will have very different reactions in the body. If your baby responds to eating milk or dairy with allergic symptoms, seek medical treatment right away.

So the good news is that lactose intolerance is actually pretty easy to spot, as the AAP classifies lactose intolerance as the presence of one or more of the following symptoms:

Lactose intolerance is a clinical syndrome of 1 or more of the following:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • flatulence
  • bloating after the ingestion of lactose or lactose-containing food substance

The bad news is that you can't exactly ask your baby if she's bloated after her nightly bottle, so it might take a little more investigating and trial-and-error, like removing all dairy from her diet, monitoring the reaction, then re-introducing it to compare.  

It's important to realize that every lactose intolerant person is different, so it might be difficult to really track your baby's symptoms. For example, some lactose-intolerant people can handle one glass of milk, but one and a half might induce symptoms. Every person is different. 

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One of the big giveaways for lactose intolerance is flatulence. The AAP explains that when lactose isn't digested properly, it basically just hangs out and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria to feast on. Gross, I know. But those bacteria eating lactose produce lots of fatty acids and gases, which lead to, you guessed: gas. 

Also, lactose intolerance may not solely be caused by just milk, if that makes any sense. One source explains that sometimes, the lactose intolerance is actually secondary to something else that has upset the digestive system, so it may take fixing what the real problem is before you see any improvement in symptoms. 

To officially confirm that your child has lactose intolerance the AAP recommends doing a total elimination diet for two weeks (and that means everything) or talking to your pediatrician about a special hydrogen breath test. 

Do you suspect your baby may have lactose intolerance? Is there anything special you will be doing? 

What do you think?

Could Your Baby Be Lactose Intolerant?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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