Lactose Intolerance In Young Children

Lactose Intolerance In Young Children


A possible reason why feeding problems occur is because of the ingredients used in the milk formula. Learn more about lactose intolerance.

The World Health Organisation1 and Health Promotion Board2 recommend mothers to breastfeed their babies for the first six months. After six months, appropriate foods and formulas may be introduced while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond3.

Common feeding problems in little ones

It’s been three days since the first formula feed, and you notice your child is often fussy and cries after consumption. Does this mean you child has a problem with the milk formula?

Formula intolerance is not unusual among toddlers. 2 out of 3 formula-fed children experience common feeding problems such as colic, gas, fussiness, spit-up, constipation and eczema4.

Lactose intolerance, a possible cause

A possible reason why these feeding problems occur is because of the ingredients used in the milk formula. As children’s digestive systems are still maturing, they may not be able to properly digest some of these ingredients.

One example is the lactose, or milk sugar, in formulas. Lactose intolerance can be defined as a difficulty digesting lactose. When bacteria in the large intestine ferment non-digested lactose, gas is produced in the tummy and can cause discomfort.

Go gentle on the tummy

One of the most challenging and stressful tasks for new parents is to take care of their little ones, especially when they are unwell. To reduce the chances of formula intolerance issues, why not try a formula that is gentle on his tummy? Here’s what to look out for:

1. Contains partially hydrolysed protein
Some formulas contain protein that has been partially broken down (hydrolysed). This can help support easy digestion. In addition, a formula with partially hydrolysed protein is also suitable for babies with a family history of allergy5.

2. Low lactose or lactose-free
For babies who are unable to tolerate lactose, providing a low lactose or lactose-free formula can help relieve symptoms such as gas and watery stools.

3. Contains prebiotics
Prebiotics promote the growth of good intestinal bacteria in our digestive system. This suppresses the growth of harmful bacteria and helps to maintain a healthy intestinal tract.

4. Has no palm oil
Look for a formula which does not contain palm oil. Studies have found that babies who consumed formula with no palm oil had softer stools and better absorption of calcium, compared to children who were fed formula that contained palm oil.6;7

The journey to comfort

A happy child is one who is feeling comfortable and contented. To know if a formula suits your little one, read his cues. Besides providing relief, the choice of formula should also adequately support the nutritional needs of a rapidly growing child, especially that of the brain, eye and immune system.

Trust your parental instincts. While many of the feeding problems tend to resolve with time, when in doubt, always consult your paediatrician to get a proper assessment and discuss alternatives for feeding.

Learn more about lactose intolerance with our experts

1 Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere. 2011. Retrieved from
2 An Eating Guide for Breastfeeding Mothers. 2017. Retrieved from
3 Exclusive breastfeeding. 2017. Retrieved from
4 Abbott global tolerance survey 12/08, n=5000. (Respondents included Singaporeans). Common feeding tolerance symptoms include gassiness, bloatedness, fussiness (crying), spit-up, constipation, colic and eczema.
5 Vandenplas Y, et al. When should we use partially hydrolysed formulae for frequent gastro-intestinal symptoms and allergy prevention? Acta Paediatrica 2014; 103 :689-695.
6 John B. Lasekan, et al. Impact of palm olein in infant formulas on stool consistency and frequency: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Food Nutrition Research 2017; 61(1): 1330104.
7 Koo WW, et al. Palm olein in the fat blend of infant formulas: effect on the intestinal absorption of calcium and fat, and bone mineralization. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006; 25:117-122.
This article is written by The New Age Parents and first published on The New Age Parents“Is My Baby Intolerant To Formula?”.

SG.2021.12782.PND.1 (v1.1)

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