Cow's Milk Protein Allergy- Our Journey up the milk ladder - Stage 5

Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy- Our Journey up the milk ladder – Stage 5

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 2? Do you 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 steps 1 to 4. We went from zero dairy in her diet to her being able to tolerate pan-fried milk in the form of pancakes.

Here is a reminder of the the milk ladder:

milk ladder 2015

Stage 5 of the milk ladder

We are now at stage 5 which is Shepherd’s Pie. An odd step in my mind but one that is deemed necessary by those who compiled the stages of the ladder.

Ingredients for Shepherds Pie

Makes 8 child sized portions

  • 650g of mince
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 900g potatoes
  • 55g butter
  • 100mls milk
  • 40g grated cheese

– Now what makes this different to a normal shepherds pie is the specific amounts of dairy, those noted in bold. The method is the same as a standard recipe, browning the mince, frying the onion and adding in the tomato puree, stock and herbs.

– Boil the potatoes until they are ready to mash and this is when you add the butter and the milk. Mash them together to make a creamy mash.

– Transfer the mince mixture into an oven dish and then spread the mash on the top. Then finally sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and grill until the mash is golden.

If you are anxious about the amount of dairy then give your child a half portion of mash in the beginning and build it up. I also skipped the cheese on the first go as I was so nervous. Do what is best for you and build up as necessary.

How did she get on?

When I gave her a small portion for the first time I was so terrified that it would make her ill but she was fine- such a relief I can tell you!

We went super slow, leaving the cheese out at first so as to adjust to the milk and butter. Once she showed no ill effects I repeated the recipe but added in the cheese. Of course, it is melted so it changes the composition of the proteins a little.

The recipe makes 8 child-sized portions and we worked our way through those until we knew for sure she was ready for the next stage.

Head over to part 4 >>>

my sig 2016


  • Reply
    You Baby Me Mummy
    September 23, 2015 at 12:27 am

    I can’t imagine how awful it must have been, but amazing for her to have chocolate – look at her little face! 🙂 x

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      She was so pleased with herself!!!!

      • Reply
        November 7, 2015 at 7:48 pm

        Thank you for your blog. My son (now 21 months) has lots of allergies which cause him severe eczema. He was sore from head to toe until we discovered what was causing it. He’s highly allergic to peanuts and egg whites, very allergic to soya, and moderately allergic to wheat and dairy. We successfully introduced wheat to his diet between April and September and are now working on the dairy ladder. Tonight was Shepherds pie. He certainly enjoyed it! Good luck with the rest of the ladder. Finding foods without egg white or soya is hard. Bread is our biggest problem as most commercial bread contains soya flour.

        • Reply
          November 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm

          Oh how did you manage wheat? is there a ladder for that too? I would love to hear more x

  • Reply
    September 23, 2015 at 6:39 am

    LJ looks so pleased at being able to have chocolate and glad that she is gradually moving up the milk ladder – good luck with the lasagne. #kidscorner

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      Still not braved it! Must be the slowest ladder journey in the history of ladders!! x

  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    September 23, 2015 at 7:53 am

    She is adorable, so happy she is moving up the ladder, hope it continues to go well #kidscorner

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Thank you Mackenzie x

  • Reply
    Coombe Mill - Fiona Cambouropoulos
    September 23, 2015 at 10:09 am

    It must be so tricky introducing new food but it sounds like you are mastering how to do it safely.

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      It is nerve wracking that is for sure x

      • Reply
        November 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm

        Hi Katy!
        Your blog is great and exactly what I had been looking for.. It is almost like chicken soup for my allergy stricken soul..
        However I have one query at what age did you start your lg on the milk ladder and how long do you spend at each step.. Back home in India cmpa is very very rare.. And the doctors don’t have any reasonable clinical experience with such cases(my allergist didn’t know ow that there exists such a thing as milk ladder)..

        • Reply
          November 1, 2016 at 8:22 pm

          Hiya! I was advised to start the milk ladder at 9 months but I waited until she was 1 just to be sure. They say to spend 3 days on each step but again, I was unsure so I spent a month per stage but within that I broke down each step into mini steps. So every week or so I would increase the portion size. So for example with the biscuit I gave a quarter of a biscuit then a half, then 3 quarters etc.. and that worked for her. I didn’t see the point in rushing and it worked as now she is fine 🙂 Good luck! x

  • Reply
    Amy (Feeding Finn)
    September 23, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. It is nice to see LJ getting to enjoy some chocolate and it’s great that she is moving up the milk ladder. 🙂

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Just need to get the other allergies under control 🙂

  • Reply
    Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods)
    September 23, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Gosh that must be really hard. I used to work in a kitchen at a children’s day nursery before I become a SAHM and I dealt with allergies a lot. I would love to be able to help but the child who was dairy/soya/gluten free was only in one day a week and I have no idea how I would have coped if that child had been in every day. Sorry, not a helpful reply at all I know. Just trying to say that you are obviously doing an amazing job and I’m glad to hear that you are at a stage where you can start reintroducing milk now. I wish you and your little one much luck ♡

    Visiting from your linky #kids corner. Thanks for hosting 🙂

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Thanks Janine, I know what you mean. Thankfully she loves fruit haha! x

  • Reply
    September 23, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Aw hon it must be so difficult introducing new foods 🙁 we have allergies here but nothing compared to what you have had to go through and work with. Well done and I am sure others in a similar situation will find this helpful. Thank you for hosting #KidsCorner

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      All allergies suck xx

  • Reply
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn}
    September 28, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Great that she can have chocolate! I also have a friend who her son is allergy to eggs and chocolate too! It is so difficult living with these allergies. You have done so well. Well done to you. That Shepherd Pie recipe looks smashingly so good! 🙂 xx #KidsCorner

  • Reply
    September 29, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Our 10 week old has food intolerances and I just made the decision to switch him to hypoallergenic formula. I’m so scared about reintroducing! We really don’t know what his true allergies are at this point. His main symptoms were crankiness and gas. So glad your baby was able to eat chocolate! I worry so much that he won’t be able to enjoy the same foods as others around him. I definitely will continue to follow your blog for when we reintroduce. I’m going to be reintroducing it to myself soon so here’s hoping so this is good for me to consider as well:) thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    A Moment with Franca
    October 2, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Oh God it must have been very difficult to introduce new foods but it looks like she is doing very well. Love the photo of her happy face when she was eating chocolate!! The best day ever!! LOL 🙂 x

    • Reply
      October 14, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      It was an anxious time but thankfully she is doing so well. x

  • Reply
    Becky Dyson
    January 5, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Hi I know this blog was written a while ago but I’m going through the milk ladder at the moment with my little girl. We are at the digestive biscuit stage. I was just wondering how long do you stay on each stage for? We haven’t been given any advice on the issue at all. She was given the hydrolysed formula as a baby but then when I requested to see a dietitian was told oh just do the milk ladder by the doctor. Thanks in advance x

    • Reply
      January 7, 2018 at 8:22 am

      My dietician told me 3 days but honestly I felt that was too short! I spent more like a fortnight on each stage so I knew FOR SURE there was no backlash. Some stages I even stayed for a month (like the cheese stage) as I was paranoid! Go with your instinct and just think, better to go slowly and complete it than rush and have to take a break. Good luck!! xxx

  • Reply
    August 12, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Hi there

    I know this is an old thread but your advice and recipes have been so helpful. Thank you. My little boy is on the ladder and he’s just not liking the mince in the sheps pie, I assume it’s ok to just give him the mash separately?

    Thank you


    • Reply
      August 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Marian! That is great he is working his way up. My little boy is at that ‘I hate all meat’ phase so I hear you! Yeh totally do it with the mash alone or add it to fish as a fish pie as an alternative ??

  • Reply
    July 18, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    Hi, I notice this is an old thread, but wanted to share.

    We’re doing the milk ladder with one of my b/g twins. He’s been diagnosed with CMPA & we’ve been advised by our paediatric consultant to spend 2 weeks on each step & if any reaction to go back a step for 4 weeks to get his little digestive system more tolerant…. so far so good. We’re now on step 5 – shepherds pie (aka mashed potato!). I have also done a batch of Dutchess potatoes (swirls piped in the oven) so they are ready to go at meals instead of having to cook 2 weeks of cottage pie, fish pie & shepherds pie but I used a bit less milk as they are cooked for less time in the oven.

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