CMPA // My son’s allergies are not a lifestyle choice


“So, we’ve got a couple of substitutions” the delivery driver said to me.

“Ok, I’m going to have to check the back of the packets before I can accept them.”

*Cue strange look*

“My son is allergic to a few things, so I have to make sure they’re ok”

“But they’re still Free From?”

“Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean he can eat them… Free From doesn’t mean free from everything.”

I swear this is a conversation I have at least once a month. I always receive a look, and the look says: “Why are you making life hard for yourself? Just give the poor boy the food.”

And how I wish I could.

How I wish it was a personal decision.

How I wish it was a lifestyle choice.

But it’s not.

It’s really not.

I mean, I’d be a pretty awful mother if I let my eldest eat cheese and chocolate, but deprived my youngest for any other reason than an allergy. We love cheese in our household too, so it would possibly be tantamount to child abuse in my books.

A lot of people are curious about H’s allergies – so I thought I’d go through a few of the FAQs:

What is CMPA?

CMPA stands for Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. It happens when the immune system identifies a protein within the cow’s milk as harmful (usually Whey or Casein), and triggers an allergic reaction.

It’s one of the most common infant food allergies – affecting between 3-7% of the world’s infant population.

The most common question I get asked is whether CMPA is the same as a Lactose Intolerance. It is not. Being Lactose Intolerant means you are unable to digest ‘milk sugar’ (carbohydrate) found in the milk of all mammals.

Why is he allergic to soya too?

Soya has a similar protein structure to cow’s milk, so around 50% of children who suffer from CMPA also suffer from a soya allergy. Same for goat and sheep milk.

What happens to him when he has milk or soya?

When H-Bear comes into contact with milk or soya he is not well. Symptoms include:

  • Painful, gripey tummy – usually bloated and rock hard.
  • Extreme, smelly wind
  • He is unable to sleep
  • Unhappy noises (mostly screaming and crying)
  • Diarrhoea, with string-like contents
  • And occasionally his reflux returns

And these symptoms can last for days – until the allergen has left his body.

Will he grow out of it?

I hope so. My vision of catching up together over a baked camembert and glass of Malbec in the future is still a possibility. His reactions are definitely getting less severe. To put this in perspective: as a baby, when he came into contact with milk or soya he would be awake and screaming for three days straight, which is not an exaggeration. At almost 20 months old, he will usually suffer for a day, with a lot less screaming.

Can you do anything to help introduce milk/soya back into his diet?

Yes! There’s something called the Milk Ladder (there’s a Soya Ladder too, but we haven’t looked at that yet), which is a way of gradually introducing his digestive system to milk. Sadly we haven’t been successful yet, but we’re due another attempt soon once the winter colds are out of the way.

How can I help?

Be kind. It’s usually been quite a difficult path to get to an allergy diagnosis, so don’t belittle or judge.

Never use the word “allergies” in inverted commas; there is always a reason why that child can’t have a certain food.

Keeping a child away from possible allergens is quite a task too – so I always appreciate a restaurant with a comprehensive allergen guide (big shout out to Zizzi’s and Pizza Express, who are fantastic for this!).

Do you have any more questions? Pop them in comments below!

I hope you’ve found this a useful post. When I first starting writing it in January it was more of a rant, after our delivery driver rolled his eyes at my checking of ingredients, but I hope it’s transformed into something a little bit more informative to try and get rid of the stigma surrounding infant allergies.


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  1. 6th February 2017 / 12:24 pm

    Absolutely love this , my 22 month old is cmpa and my 3 year old was lactose intolerant but grew out of that – I feel every word you have said !! I also blog about my babies milk allergies at my blog fab post xx

  2. 6th February 2017 / 12:42 pm

    This is great thanks, I’m gonna share it on my page because my son has cmpa too. Your comment about it not being a lifestyle choice is well needed! Thanks 🙂

  3. Chiara
    6th February 2017 / 1:41 pm

    I’m almost certain this is what I had as a baby as my mum was told I was lactose intolerant and also allergic to soya milk (try growing up Italian/Chinese with those intolerances lol) but knowing what I do now I’m pretty certain it was CMPA.
    Don’t let the buggers grind you down, this is just yet another example of what length mamas go through for their babas and some people just don’t get it.
    Thanks for the informative read!

  4. 6th February 2017 / 2:37 pm

    Great post. My son was allergic to dairy and soya till he outgrew it at 2

  5. Rachxox
    6th February 2017 / 4:08 pm

    I feel your pain……i have a 5 year old boy whos cmpa and wheat allergic. A 2 yr old girl whos cmpa………we have finally in the last 2 weeks been challenging my son for the first time today we are on step 3, cake!!! My daughter is not ready at all. The road is long (longer for them) but worth the journey. Stay strong allergy moms xx

  6. Emma s
    6th February 2017 / 4:10 pm

    My little boy has several allergies esp to cmp and eggs. And I get all the time how can I deprive him that wee bit of chocolate whilst my oldest is devouring his. Why? Because it is awful for him to go through. And like you’ve said it’s slightly easier and not as severe now he’s 3. But when he was a baby his was so severe that by the time he was 4 months he was scratching every inch of his little body until he was bleeding. That was horrible to watch. Tbf now he’s such a stubborn child that if he was offered anything like normal chocolate he would refuse it.

  7. 6th February 2017 / 10:11 pm

    Ah I hope he will grow out of it. Lils grew out of her CMPA at 2ish and soya just before her 3rd bday. Soya is more of an intolerance now but that’s manageable and means she can eat what she likes. That’s the dream isn’t it? xx

  8. 7th February 2017 / 11:32 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. It upsets me how allergies get such bad press, though I suppose that’s gone hand in hand with (a little) increased understanding of them. After years of being misdiagnosed with IBS for my digestive problems I finally got a blood tests and, LO and behold, the marker for cow’s milk was sky high. It was such a relief to finally know how to look after myself properly, though I’m with you on mourning cheese! Luckily my son doesn’t have it, but we’re expecting a second now and finding out more about CPMA, learning how to dispel misinformation etc for my own sake has at least prepared me well for the eventuality of raising a child with an allergy. I do hope H grows out of it, but until then I hope you keep spreading the word!

  9. 8th February 2017 / 9:26 am

    Fully support you. I get annoyed when celebrities make something a fad so noone takes it seriously. I have oral allergy syndrome so can’ have raw fruit: my dad and grandmother had it, my children have it. I also have an allergy to wheat. People look at me like I’m mad and then ask the same question: what do you eat?! I have been told by my consultant that I grow into allergies and the next may be dairy, keeping my fingers crossed. Good luck to you and your family.

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