Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Raising a Dairy Free Toddler: Meal Ideas

 Growing up I did not have any food allergies or intolerances so when my dairy issue came up as an adult it was completely uncharted territory for me. It took me about 4 years to really get the hang of a dairy free lifestyle after being totally addicted to cheese for the 27 years before that. Luckily I am now prepared to deal with our youngest's lactose intolerance.
She didn't really show signs of lactose intolerance until close to age one.  She had no digestive issues, other than mild spitting up.  But there was no acid reflux or pain with it, just typical baby spit up, and my 2 older daughters had done the same thing.  We did make the decision to not give her cow's milk ever, so once she was off formula she went straight to soy milk (at the recommendation of our pediatrician). She was actually on regular formula, which contains milk products, but we could only use a certain brand or it wouldn't sit well with her.  Around 14months we tried a few items that had dairy- Goldfish crackers, organic yogurt, very small amounts of cheese. This was at the suggestion of our doctor. At first it did not bother her, but then she started to have nasty diapers and diaper rashes after eating certain foods.  After one particularly tough day I decided to eliminate all dairy from her diet for a couple days- all her tummy troubles cleared right up.  Now whenever she has any sort of dairy she has stomach upset ( and other issues that do not need to be described in detail).  Over the past several months we have been very careful about keeping all dairy out of her diet,  and that's not easy with a toddler who tries to eat anything she can get her hands on.

So what do you feed a toddler who can't have dairy? Definitely no premade toddler meals! (those are gross anyway) I have looked and they all contain some kind of dairy.  With a toddler you need easy, fast, and healthy. Here are some ideas that my little one loves:

Scrambled eggs with toast 
Overnight oats with coconut milk - this is her favorite breakfast
Cinnamon toast with fruit ( we use Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
Vans Organic Gluten and Dairy Free French Toast Sticks 
Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (Yes, they are dairy free!)

Grilled "cheese" bites made with dairy free cheese (she likes veggie shreds and Daiya)
Quesadillas, again with DF cheese
Veggie Dogs ( cut up into small, non circular bites),  veggies, and fruit
Veggie and rice bowls- organic mixed veggies over rice with Daiya cheese on top
Hard boiled eggs, avocado slices, and a slice of wheat bread

Dairy free cereal bars
Graham Crackers
Ritz Crackers
Animal Crackers
Banana or other sliced fruit
Apple Sauce
Dry Cereal 

She eats what we eat, and all our dinners are free of dairy.

These are just a few ideas and a small list of what my Dairy Free Little One eats.  She will eat just about anything we put in front of her so it's been pretty easy so far.  We try to keep her diet full of fruits and veggies and there aren't many she won't eat.  I am sure it will be a bit more challenging as she gets older and hits the inevitable picker eater stage that every single child goes through around age 4-5.  (Trust me, even the very best eaters have a picky stage!)


  1. she is so cute! i'm always impressed with parents who deal with food issues with their little kids... looks like you have a lot of great options. probably helps that you follow the same type of diet too.

    1. Thanks! She's knows it too! She is actually not as severe as I am so we are still fiddling around with it a bit. Different types of dairy contain different amounts of lactose. I can't have any, none, zip. She seems to be able to tolerate small amounts of ice cream made with whole milk ( very small amount) and some foods with hidden dairy. She's also showing some reaction to soy milk lately, but not soy in foods. It's a guessing game. Luckily so far she doesn't get violently ill like I do.

  2. Thank you for this list. my 21 month old son has a mild lactose intolerance, and its hard not to get into a food rut with him. he cab tolerate certain foods that might have hidden diary and small amounts of mild cheese, but absolutely no straight milk or yogurts.

  3. I am so glad you found this helpful! My toddler seems to have completely gotten over her lactose intolerance but we still limit the cow's milk for all the kids.

  4. Thank you for the suggestions! My youngest gets VERY bad eczema and her doctor suggested a dairy-free diet. Its seems to be working, but i'm still finding myself running short on recipe ideas. She seems to do ok with a small amount of cheese, but we don't give cows milk anymore. Bless all you mom's who get creative cooking for your children :)

  5. I'm glad I came across this I have been stressing out on what to feed my 12 month son. Tried to go grocery shopping today and ended up just crying because everything I picked up had a milk base product in it.

  6. Thanks for this! My 1-year-old son has a severe dairy allergy and we are still learning how to cope with. FYI veggie shreds are not dairy free. They contain whey- milk protein. Daiya is a good option for nondairy eaters.