Milk free diet for breastfeeding mums

Breastfeeding provides the best source of nutrition for babies. Occasionally breastfed babies can react to cow's milk in breastmilk from the mother's diet. This dietary advice sheet gives some general information to help you make the recommended changes to your diet and should only be followed for 4 weeks.

If you have any other allergies or medical conditions, please seek further advice.

It is important for you to have a milk free diet, and to avoid major sources of soya. This is because many babies who cannot tolerate cow's milk also react to soya proteins. Soya can often be tried later to see if your baby reacts to it or not, but it is best not to include it for the first 4-6 weeks. However, do not worry about "soya lecithin" or "soya flour" in products such as bread and sausages.

You will need to avoid cow's milk, soya milk, dairy and soya yogurts, dairy and soya custard, cheese and any products that contain these. Other mammal milks such as goat and sheep are not suitable alternatives as your baby is likely to react to these.

Suitable alternatives to cow's milk and soya milk are: Calcium enriched oat milk, calcium enriched hemp milk, calcium enriched coconut/almond/hazelnut.cashew milks.


  Milk and soya free foods Foods to avoid / check labels
Fruit & vegetables All plain fruit vegetables
Fresh, dried, frozen or tinned

Edamame/soya beans
Processed vegetables (check ingredients)
Processed fruit (check ingredients)

Meat, fish, eggs, quorn, pulses Plain meat, fish, eggs
Nuts and pulses (lentils, beans)
Plain quorn products (but check labels)
Meat, fish, eggs, and pulses in a sauce made from cow's milk
Processed/prepared meat/fish (check labels)
Tofu and soya mince
Dairy products Calcium enriched milk alternatives can be used in cooking as well as in cereals
E.g. Oat milk, nut milks, coconut based yogurts
Free-from/vegan cheese if soya free
Cows', goats' and sheep's, soya milk and all products made from these
All cheeses, including cheese spreads, cream cheese, soya cheese
Dairy or soya ice cream, cream and desserts
Starchy food and cereals Bread/rolls/wraps/bagels/pitta/crackers if no milk in ingredients (soya in the ingredients is fine)
Flour, plain pasta and rice
Plain potatoes / sweet potatoes
Plain breakfast cereals (oats, cornflakes, Weetabix, shredded wheat (check labels)
Bread/rolls/wraps/bagels/pitta/crackers with milk in ingredients list.
Filled pasta/ravioli or rice in cows' milk based sauces
Processed potato products (check labels)
Breakfast cereals which contain milk
Other foods Any oils, lard, suet, dripping
Dairy-free margarine e.g. PureTM, VitaliteTM, TomorTM, Flora fairy-free, supermarket own dairy-free brand, Kosher and some vegan spreads
Milk free chocolate and spread
Standard butter, ordinary margarine or spread
Biscuits and cakes that contain milk
Milk chocolate, most chocolate spread
Large quantity of soya spreads

Ingredients to watch our for on labels:

Milk and milk products will be indicated and 'Milk' in bold on the ingredient list, so check the labels. Most supermarkets will provide a list of their milk-free foods on request. There's no need to avoid all products with 'soya' in the ingredients. Only avoid the main source of soya such as soya milk and yogurts, soya desserts and cream, soya cheese and tofu.

When eating out, check with the restaurant or food outlets as they have to provide allergen information by law. As a breastfeeding mum your daily calcium requirements are 1250mg. If this is not met from your diet, then you should take a supplement that provides 1000mg of calcium per day.

Use the following chart to check your calcium intake (from the British Dietetic Association Food Fact Sheet on Calcium):

Food Average Portion Calcium (mg)
Alternative milk (calcium enriched) 100ml 120mg
Salmon (tinned with bones)
Lentils, boiled
Cooked chickpeas
Quorn mince
60g (1/2 small tin)
52g (1/2 tin)
15g (1 tablespoon)
White bread
Wholemeal bread
Calcium fortified bread
Pitta bread/chapatti
Calcium fortified cereals
Calcium fortified hot oat cereals
100g (2 large slices)
100g (2 large slices)
40g (1 slice)
65g (1)
15g (1tbs dry cereals)
Broccoli, boiled
Spring greens
Curly kale
85g (2 spears)
75g (1 serving)
Medium orange
Dried apricot
120g (1 medium)
5 apricots

If your baby requires a cows' milk free diet then you should be referred to a Paediatrician Dietitian or a trained Health Professional for advice on introducing solids and to ensure you are achieving a nutritionally adequate diet.

What about Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is needed by the body to absorb calcium and the best source is from the action of sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D is only found in a few foods so a supplement is recommended for everyone.

Note: micrograms (mcg) can also be written as µg. IU stands for International Unit.

Target group Recommended supplement (SACN 2016) Do not exceed
Breastfeeding mothers Equivalent 10 micrograms/day or 400IU 100 micrograms/day
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