Completing The Milk Ladder

Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy- Our Journey up the milk ladder – We Made it!

Did you miss part 4? Or do you want to see the whole milk ladder series

I never thought I would be able to write this post. For almost 2 years we have been battling against a milk allergy, one that has ruled our lives day-in day-out. It has been one of the most stressful things I have had to face but we have finally made it – we have completed the milk ladder and beaten the allergy.

It feels amazing!

When LJ was 6 weeks old she started to show signs that I recognised. Little G had a lactose intolerance as a baby and the symptoms are very similar. I thought I could just do the same as before and all would be well. I was breastfeeding at the time and so cut out dairy – switching it for LactoFree products. The symptoms remained.

By 7 weeks my milk had started to dry up – this was due to her also having tongue and lip tie but I wouldn’t find that out until many months later. Having a milk allergy when you cannot breastfeed is a total nightmare. The only option is formula and you can only get dairy free formula from a pharmacy. Now, a normal tin of formula is £9-12 roughly but a specialist tin of formula is £18 for a tub half the size. Thankfully we live in a country with the NHS and you can get it on prescription- if you are lucky.

When LJ was 8 weeks old I took her for her baby health check with the paediatric doctor at our practice. I explained that she wasn’t able to feed from me and that I thought she was allergic to dairy. She laughed at me and told me all babies have colic at one stage or another. I cried all the way home, unable to feed my baby without causing her more pain.

Never give up!

My mum told me to go to the health visitor, it was their day at the clinic and they could help. I was sceptical, never truly trusting of any health professionals but I was desperate. I don’t know that I have ever cried so much in front of a stranger, she must have thought I was absolutely mad! She tried to comfort me but what could she do really?

At that very moment, by the grace of God, LJ did a poo. The health visitor saw it as I changed her ready for being weighed and told me to take the nappy straight to the doctor. A green slimy poo is not one to be ignored. Armed with a fresh ammunition I marched to the doctors and asked to see my own, very lovely, doctor.

I am thankful every day to have such a caring doctor. He is old school, not one of these new ‘do it by the book’ sorts. He has seen enough in his life to know when someone is in real need. He did something that not many doctors will do these days- he believed a mother.

Mum knows best.

A mother’s instinct is very strong and she knows when something is wrong with her baby. I knew something wasn’t right and he listened. He gave me a trial prescription for some formula and told me to come back after the weekend. I could have kissed him. I could have also marched next door and shoved the prescription slip in the other doctor’s face! I didn’t, but I should have complained.

I was nervous giving her the first bottle- what if it didn’t work? What if I had been wrong? We fed her and waited. We waited for the screams, the writhing in pain, the spots on her face. We waited. Nothing. In fact, for the first time in 3 weeks she fell asleep- completely contented with life. I cried.

For the past 2 years we have had dairy free this, that and the other. We have avoided so many things so as not to exclude her from anything. I have made everything from scratch to make sure she was kept away from anything that could hurt her precious little tummy. We were in a happy dairy free bubble, but one that we knew couldn’t last. It was time for the milk ladder.


It sounds scary, especially when you know the reactions that could happen from eating a tiny piece of dairy product, but in actual fact it has been fairly easy going. We have moved from a fraction of a biscuit all the way up to a glass of milk and she has been fine. The other day she had a huge bowl of jelly and ice-cream. As I sat and watched her scooping it (spilling half on the floor) I couldn’t believe that she was that same tiny baby who was so sensitive to dairy that she reacted via my own milk. Just incredible.

2 years ago I never imagined I would ever get to write this post. It felt like I was in a very dark tunnel with no sign of light at the other end. But, if you are beginning that journey now, please have faith and believe that you can get to this stage too. You may come up against the medical profession, you may have to keep trying again and again to make it up the milk ladder but one day your little one will sit and enjoy a bowl of jelly and ice-cream too and you will be the happiest mummy alive.

Mummy knows best, just remember that. 

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  • Reply
    Katie @mummydaddyme
    January 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Ah great news it seems to have resolved itself. I have many friends with children who had varying degrees of milk allergies and other allergies, and I know what a nightmare it can be. x

    • Reply
      January 27, 2016 at 10:27 am

      It is such a relief- although we still have soya to contend with! x

  • Reply
    You Baby Me Mummy
    January 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I am so glad she got there! So exciting and her little face is such a picture. It will make life so much easier now too xx

    • Reply
      January 27, 2016 at 10:22 am

      It really does- not to mention Easter Eggs haha! x

  • Reply
    January 17, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    So pleased to read this, it’s awful when you don’t get taken seriously by doctors. Her face with the ice cream is a picture!

    • Reply
      January 27, 2016 at 10:15 am

      I just don’t understand why doctors don’t listen, awful. x

  • Reply
    January 24, 2016 at 12:59 am

    I’m so pleased to read this! I’m glad for your family and glad for mine as well, as we have a one-year old struggling with the same thing. I also remember that frustrating feeling of knowing that something was not right with my baby and being told by various experts that babies are just ‘like that’. It seems no-one takes babies’ digestive problems very seriously. I hope my boy will be able to eat a big ice-cream sundae someday! I must read more of the posts in your milk-ladder series to find out how.

    • Reply
      January 27, 2016 at 9:52 am

      They really don’t take it seriously and it is so frustrating!! Hope your little boy makes it up the milk ladder too x

  • Reply
    July 31, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Hi Katy I love these post thank you so much we are just beginning our milk ladder journey and I was feeling so lost until I found your blog! Curious to know if and how you will tackle the gluten? My daughter is allergic to wheat too and there doesn’t seem to be much information on introducing wheat!!

  • Reply
    August 20, 2016 at 8:44 am

    I’m so pleased I found your blog. My 2.5yr old little boy has suffered with dairy, soya, and fish allergies and now we are on step 5 of the milk ladder. So far so good. The early months were the hardest of my life with doctors simply telling me he will grow out of it and colic is normal. To watch your little one in so much pain is the worst thing a mummy can do, but luckily a health worker listened and saw for herself how poorly he was and we got his milk on prescription. I hope one day he can enjoy ice cream too, that would be emotional! Thanks for your blog, it’s such a huge support to know there is light at the of this tunnel!.

  • Reply
    Ashleigh Barrow
    October 10, 2016 at 10:30 am

    I am so pleased I found your blog!
    My little girl is turning 1 next week and I’m anxious about reintroducing Milk back into her diet! Due to not thinking she’s ready! But this has given me confidence ans understanding on what I am meant to be doing!
    Also, How did you go about finding out about the other allergies your little girl has. I’m sure my little girl disagrees with wheat as well as her cmpa but the dietian says it’s her teeth & won’t allow me to take it out of her diet. I’m so sure it’s not! It’s horrid when the doctors don’t listen! 🙁

    • Reply
      October 10, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      Ah I am so glad to be helpful! First things first – she is your daughter so if you want to eliminate something then go ahead – don’t let ANYONE tell you what to do. I realised after she seemed to react to sausages and realised they have wheat in them! Took wheat out of her diet and within 6 months she was ok again. As for Soya, again it was just me realising something was wrong and working out that soya goes hand in hand with cmpa. Honestly, do what YOU feel is best (even if it means a little white lie to the dietician!) xx

  • Reply
    May 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Hi. I’ve just found your blog and honestly, has made me cry. My daughter has egg, dairy and soya allergies. She’s now 4, but like yourself she was allergic to my breast milk and developed severe eczema from the day of birth. Her allergies were undiagnosed until 6 months. We had struggled through months of sleepless nights, painful and itchy skin even infected eczema with her having to wear head to toe bandages. It’s overwhelming as a new parent.
    She’s just started again on the milk trial after 2 previous failed attempts.
    And we’ve just had a shared family meal of lasagne. A moment I never imaged would happen for us. I keep my fingers crossed for the rest of the 12 steps.
    Hope your journey has continued to be positive.
    Lovely to read a parents shared experince. thank you.

    • Reply
      May 10, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      Oh Nicole I am sorry it made you cry but so glad it has given you hope for the future. Lils made it to the top as you read and last summer she properly had icecream for the first time. She was also soya allergic and we have made it up the soya ladder too which I will write about at some point. My little boy was born 8 months ago and is dairy and soya allergic too unfortunately but I have full faith he will make it up the ladder too. Hurrah for lasagne – I hope she makes it to the top soon and can enjoy icecream this summer. Big hugs. xxx

  • Reply
    August 11, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Katy, what an inspiring story! Can you tell me when your little one was able to have lasagne and ice cream, was she still showing positive on her milk allergy tests? My 3 year old girl shows strong positive on her skin prick tests for milk but can have malted biscuits and muffins/cupcakes.

    • Reply
      August 11, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      Hi! Lils didn’t have the instant react allergy so I’m not sure I can be of too much help. Hers was the delayed reaction (after 20 mins to an hour) so it wasn’t as severe as your little girl in terms of reaction. But she was about 18 months old if memory serves me xx

  • Reply
    September 28, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Hi Katy what a fabulous result for your princess. My little boy has CMPI and reacts through my breastmilk as well. He is 9 months old now and I’ve been dairy free for 6 months. Just wondering how you knew/decided it was the right time to start the ladder? I really hope my story has a similar ending one day 🙂

    • Reply
      September 28, 2017 at 6:44 am

      Hi Hayley! Honestly I didn’t know when it would be the right time. I was panicked that she would react and that it would cause her pain but I decided to go for it at 18 months or so I think (memory is terrible!!) and she just did it. I took it slow, kept her on each stage for ages before trying the next but it worked. By 2 she was clear and by 3 she was clear of soya too xx

  • Reply
    Pauline Rettie
    January 11, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Oh how lovely to read this! My son will be 2 a week today and we are going to tackle the milk ladder after his birthday celebrations. Like yourself I am tackling this first and soya second. I would love to read about your soya journey too. So great to read your little girl grew out of it. Fingers (and toes) crossed we make it to the top too! Xx

    • Reply
      January 11, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      I can’t remember if I documented our journey with soya. But basically it consists of two parts. First comes chocolate. I think I gave her one square a day for a week and gradually built It up. Next is biscuits (we used party rings) and literally started off with about an 8th of a biscuit on day 1 for a week. Then 1/4 for a week etc etc. When you reach a full biscuit you are done. We didn’t do it until she was 3 and she breezed through it xx

  • Reply
    June 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you for these posts. We’re about to start the dairy ladder with our little fellow and it’s so stressful and worrisome. It’s so good to read your story and that yes, someday I will hopefully be able to give my kid ice cream and cheese and not have to read each and every label/make everything from scratch. You are doing a great job!

    • Reply
      June 22, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      I promise one day you’ll be giving them icecream and these days will seem like a distant memory. xx

  • Reply
    Stephen Yule
    February 16, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Great post! I’m about to write my own post about my son who’s recently beat the milk ladder! This post has inspired me to share my story so thank you x

  • Reply
    March 14, 2019 at 2:47 am

    I found your blog when I looked up dairy ladder on Pinterest. Reading this makes me feel like just maybe we can get there. I suspected the dairy allergy right after I stopped breastfeeding. Hers was obviously not as severe but still made her stomach upset.

    I have no guidance from doctors in how to go up this dairy ladder. (Truthfully didn’t even get told about it from my doctor. ?‍♀️ Was told to try lactose free milk. Which made things worse.) I hope using your post I can maybe start this process. I am terrified and I enjoy my sleep but living the dairy allergy worry is no fun.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It gives others hope!

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