Switching to Soy?

Posted 1.31.08 | Nutrition Specialist

When your baby starts showing signs of a milk allergy, it’s normal to think that soy might be a good replacement for cow’s milk. After all, if you became lactose intolerant, you may switch to soy milk. However, similar to what Steven blogged about earlier this week, lactose intolerance is a negative response to the sugar in milk, while a milk allergy is a reaction to the protein. Soy milk or a soy based formula is most likely not the best choice for a baby with a milk allergy.

Marybeth and I talk to a lot of mothers with kids that have milk allergies who either switch to a soy formula or, if breastfeeding, replace the dairy in their diet with soy to try to relieve the symptoms. We understand that this seems to be the most logical and healthy next step.

However, some parents don’t realize that about 50 percent of kids with milk allergies are also allergic to the protein in soy. That’s one of the reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not to use soy to manage milk allergies in babies. (AAP actually also recommends not to feed soy based formula to any infant because soy allergies are much more common in infants than children or adults.)

Similar to what we have suggested for managing milk allergies, if your baby has an allergy to soy, remove all soy from his/her diet immediately.

A few symptoms of soy allergy are:
- Acne
- Asthma
- Diarrhea
- Eczema
- Fever
- Itching
- Lethargy
- Hives
- Vomiting
- Wheezing

So, if you’re changing your child’s formula because he/she has a milk allergy, the most effective option is an amino acid-based formula – which is clinically proven to relieve the symptoms of a milk allergy. As always, feel free to send comments and questions my way.

Take care,

Read Comments (2)

  • 2013-05-05 | sarah stramer

    my daughter is 7 months. and has the worst eczema ive ever seen in a baby since birth shes been to different doctors I think its her formula she had milk based and through it up and cried all the time so I switched to soy and she breaks out so bad she cries all day everyday and bleeds I don’t know what to do. her granpas side has severe food allergies

  • 2013-05-06 | Rob


    We’re so sorry to hear that your daughter is experiencing such severe eczema. It’s not uncommon for an infant that doesn’t tolerate cow milk formulas to also have trouble with soy-based formulas. That’s even more common when there is a family history of food allergies.

    Have you talked with your daughter’s healthcare team to see what they recommend? They often suggest trying a different formula when a soy-based formula hasn’t helped. Many physicians might suggest Neocate Infant, since they see it as the “gold standard” of hypoallergenic formulas. But do check with your little one’s healthcare team to see what they suggest, and good luck. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about Neocate.

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.