Cow's Milk Protein Allergy | The Milk Ladder - Stage 2 to 4

Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy- Our Journey up the milk ladder – Stage 2 to 4

Inside: Our experience with the first stage of the milk ladder.

My youngest daughter was born with a milk allergy. Not that we knew it at the time – I just assumed all was well and began life with a newborn as any mum would.

For the first 2 weeks of her life all was well besides a complete inability to latch on, which we would later discover was down to tongue-tie.

If you are not sure whether you are dealing with a milk allergy then please head over to my Cows Milk Allergy Guide, where you can find more information to help you as you get to grips with everything. 

Did you miss part 1? Or want to see the whole series

If you have been following the series, you will know that we started my daughter on the milk ladder and she successfully completed the first step, malted biscuits. You can find my malted biscuit recipe here.

Stage 2 of the Milk Ladder

Stage 2 is not dissimilar to stage one in that it is a biscuit but instead of using malted milk as the ingredient we are using dried skimmed milk. Unlike stage 1, where we had to make our own biscuits, this stage can use shop-bought.

TIP: When shopping for Digestives, be sure to check the ingredients. Top brands seem to be dairy-free now, so you might have more luck with shop-own variations.

milk ladder

How did she get on?

We started off with a pea-sized piece of digestive and each day doubled the amount. She didn’t have a single issue with them which I was so relieved about. I was always paranoid that we were going to have a night from hell but she was always fine thank goodness.


Stage 3 of the Milk Ladder

The next stage on the ladder is muffins/ cupcakes and again, you will need to make these yourself to make sure they have the exact amount of dairy needed.

Here is the recipe for 8 muffins:


132g flour

40g cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

100g soft brown sugar

40ml oil (any)

70ml apple puree

200ml milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


It’s a simple one! Hurrah!

– Mix all of the dry ingredients in one bowl: flour, cocoa powder, sugar and bicarb.

– Mix all of the wet ingredients in another bowl: oil, apple puree, milk and vanilla.

– Combine the two mixtures together, put a big dollop in each muffin case and bake for 20 mins at 180ºC. The mixture is quite runny but they do rise nicely. 

How did she get on?

She had no reaction to the cakes, even eating a whole one near the end of the day (I always try to give new things in the morning to give her a chance to react before bedtime). I couldn’t believe she had actual milk, I felt so nervous adding it into the mixture!


Stage 4 of the Milk Ladder

We are now at the scotch pancake stage- a bit random but obviously a necessary rung of the ladder! Today she had half a pancake, probably the size of her hand, and she has gone down like a light. Fingers crossed she will sleep as well as she has done throughout this process!

We bought shop ones but here is the recipe to make 18 pancakes:


120g self-raising flour

pinch of salt

30g caster sugar

1 egg

144ml milk


– Sift the flour and add the salt into a bowl.

– Crack the egg into the milk and whisk together in a jug.

– Combine the wet and dry ingredients into the jug so that you can pour the mix into the pan.

– Heat the pan and test it is hot enough by placing a small bit of batter to check. When the surface of the batter is covered in bubbles it is time to flip the pancake.

How did she get on?

Once again she had no issue. The fact that the milk was pan-fried rather than baked had made me nervous but she aced it!


Head over to part 3 of our milk ladder journey >>>

my sig 2016


  • Reply
    Honest Mum
    February 24, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Oh wow huge good luck, we actually mostly drink goat’s milk her or lactose free, I’ve read so much on how bad cow’s milk is for us all and how doctors often ask kids who are prone to glue ear and tonsillitis (both of my kids) to ease off it so I try where possible to limit cows. I understand though with allergies it’s imp to introduce it though, lots of love to you both x

    • Reply
      February 25, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Thanks hun, I know I always feel better when I cut down on dairy. You are right, cows milk isn’t great for us. No other mammals drink other animals milk so why do we? Problem is I love it haha! x

  • Reply
    Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks
    February 25, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Oh wow, good luck! I find this introduction so fascinating and will be watching to see how you do!

    • Reply
      February 25, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      It is scary, I am dreading the next stage!! x

      • Reply
        May 5, 2020 at 2:36 pm

        Hi just wondering what type of milk to use? Skimmed semi skimmed full fat? Thanks x

        • Reply
          May 9, 2020 at 11:19 am

          I used semi skimmed just because that’s what we had in the house. I mean I guess semi or whole would be best but just try it and see xx

    • Reply
      January 31, 2020 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks so much for this recipe! My 19 month old has a milk, egg and soya intolerance and he’s just started the milk ladder recently. Very limited as he’s also intolerant to egg! I’ve made a couple of eggless muffin recipes and they have been like rocks and he wouldn’t eat them!! These have just come out of the oven and look and smell delicious! Thank you 😊

  • Reply
    Mrs H
    February 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    It must be so hard having a little one with allergies. It sounds like you are taking all the right steps. I am thrilled that the digestive bisuits, muffins and pancakes have been a success. Those recipes do look yummy. Good luck with the shepherd’s pie. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

    • Reply
      February 25, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      I am scared about the shepherds pie!!

      • Reply
        December 14, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        Do you have a recipe for the shepherds pie? We did… Give him a home made one but I didn’t add milk just a little butter … Yeh we bought a shop bought lasagne made with skimmed milk powder he seemed fine… Not sure what to do next

        • Reply
          December 14, 2015 at 10:27 pm

          Yes I have a whole document with all of the recipes in. Although I am scared for the next stage to be honest- yoghurt was always a difficult one with her sister so am dreading making her worse again x

  • Reply
    You Baby Me Mummy
    February 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Oh I love milk! I have such milky tea in massive cups, I think we need a cow! xx

    • Reply
      February 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Haha can you imagine Baby’s face if there was a cow in the garden? x

  • Reply
    April 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    I’m on step 2 of them he milk ladder and looking for muffins next. Do you know of any shop brought ones that are suitable to use?


    • Reply
      April 23, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      I made my own, much easier as shop bought ones often contain soya and other bits and bobs. Tesco are really good with their free from range as are Ssinsburys so worth a check x

  • Reply
    August 15, 2015 at 9:21 am

    How far did she get Katy? We are still unable to try as he keeps reacting to May contains 🙁
    It’s great to hear about others experiences!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      She is currently on shepherds pie which I really need to do an update for! Next step is lasagne but I am anxious about that one! x

  • Reply
    August 15, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Katy,

    Just a quick question.

    We’re currently going through the milk ladder and I can’t find any scotch pancakes in shops that contain mil protein and not whay powder, any ideas?


    • Reply
      August 15, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      I’m sure I just used those ones, as long as you start off with the teeniest tiniest amount it should be fine x

  • Reply
    January 31, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Hi… Do you recall what scotch pancakes you was able to find? We are currently on the milk ladder and my daughter is also soya free. I’m struggling to find any in the shops that are soya free and contain milk protein (not whey powder)? x

    • Reply
      February 3, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Ooh do you know I really don’t. I don’t think I made my own so I don’t know how I managed it. Perhaps Sainsbury’s? If not then maybe try your own. I just added a pancake recipe that is totally dairy soya free but you could use a little milk added in? Next time I’m out I’ll try and find the ones I would have used. The only thing I can think is maybe we didn’t know she was soya allergic until much later so maybe I used normal scotch pancakes without realising. So sorry I can’t give a better answer x

  • Reply
    Rebecca Jeffery
    August 18, 2019 at 12:09 am

    I have a question. My son has a milk intolerance. He is being perscribed similac. We have started weaning, I mix his special formula with baby rice (baby porridge has milk in it). When making muffins ect do I use normal cows milk?, apatimel formula? Or his own perscribed formula?

    I really don’t want him getting tummy pains or blood in his poo again!

    One anxious and nervous mummy!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Hi Rebecca! It is so hard isn’t it? It is up to you if you want to stick with his Sumilac but I personally would use oat milk seeing as he will still be having bottles at this stage to get the nutrients. But definitely don’t use cow or normal formula as it will trigger symptoms. Once he reaches one year old you can move him off formula and on to oat milk in his bottles and once you feel he is ready (between 2 & 3 years old) try and get him up the milk ladder. Always here if you need more advice xxx

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