Food and Nutrition

Lactose intolerant child -- Here’s what to do!

Puja Sharma Vasisht
1 to 3 years

Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht
Updated on Jun 07, 2017

Lactose intolerant child Heres what to do

It is quite common that a child complains of abdominal discomfort after having milk. The discomfort could be in the form of diarrhea, distention, cramps or pain in the stomach. The child may also complain of nausea or a ‘bloated’ feeling. In most cases, lactose intolerance is determined as the cause of such discomfort. Here’s what you need to know – lactose intolerance may vary from mild to severe and accordingly, so will the diet.

What causes lactose intolerance?Children with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme lactase which is required to digest the lactose sugar present in milk. The problem could be gene-related or there could be other reasons too, such as infection in the gut, the aftermath of surgery and so on.

What to do when your child complains?

When your child complains of diarrhea, stomach cramps or even distention, consult your pediatrician without delay. Your paediatrician will ask you to run some diagnostic tests that will reveal the level and functionality of the lactase enzyme in your child. Depending on the level of activity,a customised diet chart will be prepared for your child. In case your child has been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, it is better to consult your pediatrician first and follow it up with a visit to a nutritionist.

How to select the diet plan for your child?

Here’s a critical fact: A low level of lactase activity would mean a more severe case of lactose intolerance and vice versa. Here is a peep into the diet plans of children with moderate to severe lactose intolerance:

Moderate level of lactase activity or moderate lactose intolerance

A child with moderated lactose intolerance is able to digest or tolerate the below-mentioned food items, so you may include the same in your child’s diet:

  • Fermented and cooked milk products will be better tolerated. So opt for buttermilk, curds, custard, kheer, porridge and other such. 
  • Children with moderate lactose intolerance may tolerate small amounts of milk especially if taken with other foods, for instance at bedtime (after dinner) or in the evening (after a wholesome snack).Make sure to give small quantity (40-50 ml) at one go (3-4 times a day) instead of one whole cup/glass at a time.
  • Curd is a better option than milk.
  • Commercial low-lactose foods, such as cottage cheese, ice cream are generally digested without causing any discomfort. 

Low level of lactase activity or severe lactose intolerance

Low level of lactase activity or severe lactose intolerance signifies that your child is neither able to tolerate milk nor is able to tolerate any milk-based products. For severe lactose intolerance, here is what you need to do:

  • All milk products should be eliminated from the diet.
  • Use substitutes of milk like soy milk, almond or coconut milk; replace paneer with tofu.
  • Consult your doctor on the enzymes available (at chemist stores) that reduce symptoms of intolerance.
  • Non-diary sources of calcium must be supplemented in the diet. Choose calcium-rich foods like ragi, dark leafy greens like broccoli, sesame seeds, almonds, and figs.

Has your child been diagnosed with lactose intolerance? Was this article useful for you? Please do share your suggestions and feedback in the comments section.

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| Nov 25, 2017

thank u very much. its really very helpful

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| Jul 10, 2017

very helpful blog.. Thanks for the detailed information.

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| Jun 17, 2017

thanks,it is very helpful information.

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| Jun 14, 2017

my 14 month old boy is lactose intolerant after 6 months age. Now he is digesting curd. I Want to clear is this problem goes after 3,4 years of age or a lifetime problem. He is eating every thing except milk,milk creame ,butter,but seems weak his weight 9. 3kg. w did all test liver,cbc ,hb nd wheat allregy all r normal. i m worried for his health plz give suggestions

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| May 17, 2017

my 1yr old baby scream s and cries out of sleep inconsolably many times a month. p ls help

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| Apr 29, 2017


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| Feb 25, 2017

my child is 2 yr n 5 months old. she is milk allergic from birth. I want to ask whether this allergy recovers with growing age?

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| Dec 28, 2016

Hi Geeta, not sure on this check with your pedeac.

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| Nov 17, 2016

what about goat milk... lactose intolerant bacchonko de sakte hai

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| Nov 10, 2016

mm CBM

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| Nov 10, 2016


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| Nov 09, 2016


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| Nov 08, 2016


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