A child who is lactose intolerant cannot produce the amount of enzymes the body needs to digest lactose, which is the main sugar in dairy products. When this lactose is not digested properly, it leads to gastrointestinal pain and bloating.
Lactose intolerance is uncommon in toddlers, but can show up in older children. Typical symptoms include diarrhoea, cramps, boating, and gas which occur soon after eating or drinking dairy products. The level of intolerance varies from child to child. Some lactose intolerant children can have small amounts of dairy products with no problems, while other children will have symptoms if they ingest even a small amount.
Researchers are not sure what exactly causes lactose intolerance, although studies have shown that genetics may be involved. The majority of people (75 of 90 percent) who are lactose intolerant are of Asian, African, Hispanic, Jewish, and Native American descent, while people of northern European descent only account for about 15 percent.
If you suspect that your toddler is lactose intolerant, see the doctor. As the condition is rare in toddler, you may find that your child has a milk allergy as opposed to lactose intolerance. If however, your child is diagnosed as lactose intolerant, you will have to learn what to look for and what to avoid. This can be difficult. Most packaged foods contain some sort of dairy product so you must be diligent when checking the labels. Ingredients such as whey, curds, milk byproducts, dry milk solids, and nonfat dry milk powder should be avoided.
Keep track of how your child reacts to dairy products. You may find that they can have small amounts of dairy products without problems.
Make certain that your child’s diet meets the nutritional requirements. If you eliminate dairy products, add other sources of food that contain calcium, such as leafy greens, fortified soy milk, broccoli, salmon, oranges, and fortified bread. Also, look for lactose free milk and other dairy products. You also may want to discuss supplements with your doctor.