First Birthday smallWhile many children will grow out of their cows’ milk allergy early, for others it will continue through the first few years of life.  For a small number of children it may even persist into their teenage years although CMA is very rare in adults1. Children with ongoing cows’ milk allergy will be regularly reviewed by their healthcare professional. They may also undergo further allergy tests and dietary challenges to see if they have outgrown CMA.

When CMA does persist beyond the early years, additional challenges include:

  • Changing energy and nutrient needs as children grow
  • Including cows’ milk equivalent substitutes that can meet these shifting requirements. Cows’ milk and dairy products usually provide an important source of energy, protein, calcium and other nutrients in a child’s diet.
  • The taste preferences of the growing child and increasing independence to choose the types of food they want to eat.
  • Food shopping for a child with CMA can be tricky because milk proteins are present in a wide range of products. It is important to read food labels of prepared foods to see if they contain cow’s milk protein.
  • Providing a balanced diet while continuing to avoid all foods containing cow’s milk protein


There is help available, however, and you don’t need to manage these challenges alone. The advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian can be invaluable in tailoring the diet to meet your child’s specific nutritional needs


What diet should be followed as a child with CMA grows?

For children with CMA that persists beyond the early years, it is important to continue to avoid all foods containing cow’s milk protein. When cow’s milk and dairy products are removed from the diet, alternative sources of calcium, energy, protein and other nutrients are needed. Fortunately there are a wide range of non-dairy foods available that can be substituted to meet your child’s nutritional needs.

These products vary in terms of taste, appearance and nutritional content. Other foods that are good sources of protein, energy and calcium range from calcium fortified soy milk to salmon with bones to almonds. The choice of product should be tailored to the meet the dietary needs (taking into account other food allergies) and taste preferences of your child.


Thinking ahead

It’s difficult to predict when children will grow out of CMA and your child should be reviewed periodically to see if they still react to cow’s milk3.  Each child is different and all parents of children with CMA should be prepared in case the allergy persists into the school years. Your healthcare professional is there to guide and support you, no matter how long CMA persists.


While many children will grow out of their cow’s milk allergy early, for others it will continue through the first few years of life


  1. 2013. Cow’s milk (dairy) allergy. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Viewed 24 May 2016.