Welcome to the Nestlé Baby Website

Welcome to our Baby Website where you’ll find lots of information on the wonderful journey of parenthood, from pregnancy, to birth and your child’s early development. Every child’s development is different, so be sure to consult with your health care professional if you have any concerns.

You’ll also find plenty of information about what you can feed your child.

Know your baby’s nutritional needs and download our 'Breastfeeding' brochure here

When it comes to babies, Breastfeeding is best, and provides the ideal balanced diet and protection against illness. During pregnancy and after delivery, a mother’s diet should contain sufficient key nutrients. Professional guidance can be sought on diet and the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding. Infant formula is intended to replace breast-milk when mothers do not breastfeed. A decision not to breast-feed, or to introduce partial bottle-feeding, could reduce the supply of breast-milk. Once reduced, it is difficult to re-establish. Infant formula should be prepared and used as directed. Unnecessary or improper use, such as the use of unboiled water, unboiled bottles or incorrect dilution may present a health hazard. Social and financial implications, such as the preparation requirements and the cost of providing formula until 12 months of age, should be considered when choosing how to feed infants.

Our Baby Website mentions food, toddler milks and sometimes infant formula.

By clicking on the "I understand" link below, you confirm your understanding that Nestlé is supplying this information about formulas for informational or educational purposes.

I Understand

You must be logged in to see this content.

Go back

Logging In...
Forgot your password?
Not a member yet?
Register here
Nestle Baby Blue Bo Bear

Lactose Intolerance in Babies

Dr. Avi Lemberg
Head of the Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology

Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick


What is lactose and lactose intolerance?

Lactose is a disaccharidewhich is a molecule that is made up of two simple sugars to make a larger simple sugar. Lactose intolerance is where the body cannot break down the lactose. There are small finger-like projections on the surface of the small bowel, which is the part of the bowel after the stomach, that help absorb nutrients. Small sugars such as lactose are broken down by enzymes that lie on top of the villi. These enzymes break down lactose so that they can be absorbed across the villi and used as energy by the body. Lactose intolerance occurs when there is not enough of these enzymes (in this case lactase) to break down all the lactose that is being swallowed by a child.

How do you diagnose lactose intolerance in babies?

Lactose intolerance is diagnosed generally just on history alone whereby children or babies are given lactose and this results in diarrhoea, gas and bloating. There are more definitive ways of diagnosing lactose intolerance such as the presence of reducing substances in the stool which can give one an idea that there might be lactose intolerance or intolerance of another sugar. The definitive diagnosis of lactose intolerance can be made by biopsying the small bowel and measuring the levels of lactase (which is the enzyme) on the border of the villi. Human milk does contain lactose and of course one needs simple sugars in order to survive as this is what gives us our energy so that we can live from day to day. Many formulas contain alternative sugars which can be absorbed, so lactose is important but not vital for life.

Does lactose help the balance of bacteria in my baby?

Lactose will change the balance of bacteria particularly if one cannot absorb lactose terribly well. This will allow the lactose to be used by the bacteria to multiply and therefore change bacterial populations and thus the gut flora. In the main the lactose feeds the gas forming organisms (bacteria) in the gut which leads to some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance such as windy pain, bloating and gas being passed from the bottom end.

Can probiotics and prebiotics help by baby’s gut flora?

Yes, probiotics and prebiotics can help with gut flora in changing the different types of bacteria. In particular, they can help reduce the numbers of bacteria that are gas forming, that are increased by the presence of too much lactose in the bowel.  The probiotics may compete with the gas forming organisms for food and thus reduce the numbers of those organisms that cause the gas and bloating and windy pain.

Will my baby tolerate lactose after diarrhoea?

Lactose can be difficult to tolerate after diarrhoea because diarrhoeal infections often result in breaking down of the finger-like projections (the villi) on the border of the small bowel. Thus, this reduces the amount of lactase in the bowel and therefore leads to a relative lactose intolerance that can last for days or sometimes even weeks.  

Should I keep breastfeeding if my baby is lactose intolerant?

Yes, one should keep breastfeeding as much as possible even if you do have a baby that has a relative lack of lactase. Lactose intolerance tends to be temporary and with time lactase will increase. Obviously, there are some babies that have a very low amount of lactase and therefore their lactose intolerance leads to severe symptoms and they may have to stop breastfeeding and start a lactose-free formula for a short period or sometimes even for prolonged periods.

I am formula feeding – should I switch formulas?

If your child is having severe symptoms of lactose intolerance while being formula fed, it is certainly worth a trial of a lactose-free formula to see if this will improve symptoms.

If I switch to a formula for lactose intolerance after baby’s diarrhoea, do I need to go back or do I stay on the lactose-free one?

Generally lactose intolerance only lasts for short periods. The villi tend to grow back fairly rapidly over days but perhaps sometimes this can take weeks. Generally, one only needs to be on a lactose-free formula for a few weeks after a gastrointestinal infection.


This article is written by an external expert. We advise speaking to a doctor or dietitian before altering or changing your normal feeding regimen.

Was this page helpful to you?