Our Journey with Formula Intolerances



Personal disclaimer: I am in no way giving medical advice on formula intolerances, reflux or milk and soy protein allergies … just a mamma that has struggled through formula intolerances three separate times here to let you know there is an end in sight! Also, I’m an over-sharer of info because it’s all I wanted/needed in this journey of mine so bear with me … there is some really valuable information here. 

Formula intolerances. They were once going to be the death of me.

Have you ever witnessed a perfectly happy, calm, steady sleeping newborn go straight to crying all day, restless, and agitated overnight? It’s an incredibly sad thing to experience. And for a brand new mom, it can be such a trying time. I’ve experienced not one, but all three of my babies with formula intolerances and know first hand how confusing it all can be. I’m here today (and as excited as ever) to share with you what our struggles were and what I learned through it all. Good news is, there’s a happy ending! One that I’m hoping to help anyone in my shoes get to as soon as possible.

Know the Signs.

The toughest part of it all is that babies can’t talk. They can’t tell us what hurts and why. It’s up to us to put the pieces together and figure out how to get things right for them. Below I’ve listed every one we experienced in full detail. Know that your baby doesn’t have to have every single one of these signs or symptoms to deem “something wrong,” every baby is different as well as every formula. I’ll touch on that soon!

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A special thanks to Katie with KVR Photography for providing this perfect image!

Crying – Sure, all babies fuss … but there is a difference. Did you know that babies have different types of cries? They do! In this case, your babies’ cry is going to be what I call a tight cry. They will tense up, bringing their knees towards their belly and almost “mad cry” (as I like to call it) with a tense face, wrinkling of the forehead. It likely won’t ever get better either. It will start off looking like Colic or you may even chalk it up to a growth spurt like I did SO many times, but you’ll soon notice that something isn’t right. The “fussing” never eases and the only thing to console them is another bottle or you bouncing them to sleep. And in all honesty, it got to the point with Matty that Mamma’s arms and a warm bottle didn’t even do the trick.

Rashes – There are a few that we experienced, each baby had something different. With Kade, he developed a light red rash all over his belly. It looked like tiny little red dots all over, but nothing too major compared to the rashes Matty had. Matty started with a rash on his bottom that even the strongest of diaper cream couldn’t touch and then developed what looked like a yeast infection in the crease of his legs by his groin that the prescription the doctor gave us didn’t touch. He then got a really bad rash all over his face. What started out as a few red bumps (we thought was baby acne) then red flaky patches (we thought was Eczema) turned into a full face rash. Red, flaky, rough skin all over his sweet little face. The most flaky being in his ears, on his eyebrows, and even his hairline (we thought was a bad case of cradle cap). Funny thing is, I honestly thought that was just going to be Matty … my one and only with skin issues but that wasn’t at all the case.

Spitting Up – Like crying, all babies spit up but there’s a time when it just isn’t normal. We have experienced a normal-to-us spit up with Kade, spitting about a tablespoon right after every feeding all the way to dangerous spit up habits with Kellan. I’m talking projectile spits immediately following feedings and it being pretty much every ounce he took, failure to gain weight (dropping it in fact). Spit up symptoms can be the most confusing, especially if it seems to be a normal amount like with Kade or even no spitting at all like it was with Matty. Know that spitting up doesn’t necessarily mean there is a formula issue but then again there absolutely could be. BUT if your baby is projectile vomiting or spitting up call your doctor asap, there could be another underlying problem more severe than a formula intolerance.

Stools – This to me is one of the biggest warnings. Stools are stools, they are pretty basic for almost every newborn. BUT when there is constant diarrhea, bloody stools or mucus-like stools, call your doctor as soon as possible. The risk of dehydration is way too high with constant diarrhea and blood in the stools is not ok.

*If you still aren’t sure that your baby has an intolerance or are uncertain of symptoms, check out this link to get a quick rundown of all symptoms associated with a formula allergy. I am the first to say it can all be so confusing and there are many times that you’ll doubt yourself. This list is a great tool on deciding when to go to the doctor.

Know that no two babies are the same.  

Having experienced formula intolerances with all three of mine, I’d say the hardest part of figuring it out was that each of them had completely different symptoms from the other. To give you an idea…

  • Kade – “normal” spit ups after every feeding, light red rash all over belly, loose mucus-like stools, no constant crying.
  • Kellan – projectile spit ups after every feeding, normal stools, no rashes, constant irritability and fussing (wouldn’t settle down for anything).
  • Matty – no spit ups, red flaky rash all over (got to the point that his entire face was scaly and inflamed), mucus-like stools, constant fussing.

…as you can see, they pretty much had no two symptoms that matched. I’ll add right here too, that family history plays a part. Per their pediatrician, if a sibling has a formula intolerance, there is a higher chance the others will too.

Trial and error.

What do you do when you suspect a formula intolerance, aside from call your doctor? Get moving to a new formula.

Let me preface this part by saying that no two formulas are the same. No two brands are the same. No matter what one is in comparison to the other … they. are. not. the. same. From experience, SO much experience I know this.


I feel like everyone has a preference with formulas as with diaper brands. Some are Pampers people and some are Huggies people, it’s just what they prefer. Formula tends to be the same. We are Enfamil people, so once I suspected that something might not be right with Kade’s formula, I swapped to the next in line sensitivity-wise. Remember that frequent spit up after every meal I mentioned earlier? Well our pediatrician thought it may be reflux, so we swapped from Enfamil Newborn to Enfamil AR. It helped, for like a week. Then the spit up came back and the rash was even worse and the constant fussing started. Kade was still thriving and gaining weight so we were kind of stuck in limbo. There didn’t seem to be a need for any tests or anything; it was just chalked up that he was just a fussy baby. I made one last doctor’s appointment because something just didn’t seem right. After a friend suggested that ProSobee did the trick for them, I asked for a sample from our doctor with very little hope that it’d do the trick, went home and gave him a bottle. It was seriously like a light went off. Kade went from fussing and miserable, spitting up after every feeding to happy. He was content, he was full, he was FINALLY happy.

Next came Kellan. With Kellan, I knew he had reflux from the moment he was born. I had done enough obsessing on WebMD with Kade to know the symptoms and I knew for sure he had reflux. So, when Kellan never gained weight and consistently lost it in his first two weeks of life I knew he had severe reflux. I was breastfeeding at the time. He wouldn’t latch (a typical problem with reflux babies) because he was constantly refluxing. I exclusively pumped for those first two weeks. He ate, then he spit it all up … for two weeks straight. After about a doctor’s visit a day for those two weeks we ended up on Zantac and it helped, kind of. It reduced the amount of spitting up; he went from projectile to a little less projectile. I thought that maybe, just maybe it may be my milk. After our doctor assured me it was highly unlikely that I was the problem the mucus-like stools with blood started. I knew then that it wasn’t just reflux it was something inside of his stomach. I made the decision to stop pumping and to put him on ProSobee because it worked for Kade … nothing. After asking for advice from some mammas on Facebook, I decided to go a different route … and this is when we went from being an Enfamil family to a Similac family. I gave Similac Alimentum a shot and like before a light magically came on. Within one single feeding Kellan went from spitting everything up to holding it all down. Over the next few days the stools improved tremendously and he was happy, FINALLY he was happy. Kellan ended up with a diagnosis of severe reflux and MSPI (milk soy protein intolerance). He also ended up gaining that weight back.

Lastly, Matty. This is where things get odd and so confusing. We decided with Matty that because of my previous supply issues and our never-at-home-lifestyle that breastfeeding wasn’t the right fit, so we decided to go the formula route from day one. Resorting back to my Enfamil roots, we started him on Enfamil Newborn — amazing. He was eating well, no spitting, no upset stomach, nothing. It was all so great — for about two weeks. This is when I learned that intolerances can develop over time. That they won’t be evident instantly. Matty started out with small red spots on his face that we thought were just skin issues which eventually led to an all-over inflamed red rash on his whole face. Along with the fact that he was a good sleeping, rarely fussy baby and had changed to a not-so-good sleeping, constantly fussing baby by the time this rash was in full force, something was not right and I knew it. While this all developed, we knew what was in our cards and tried Enfamil GentleEase when the fussiness started thinking it was just an upset tummy or Colic. When the fussing didn’t stop we tried ProSobee, Alimentum and still nothing. After a week, I learned (from all that symptom searching on the internet) that no two formulas are the same. Never would I have thought that the equivalent to Similac’s Alimentum in Enfamil would make any difference, but it did. I made the decision to give the crazy expensive Nutramigen a shot and as in the past, that little light bulb came on. In a week’s time his red, swollen scaly face was back to normal. I hadn’t realized how un-normal that was until it was gone. He was FINALLY happy.

Now that you’ve read through all of those crazy long journeys, I have one last bit of info. Keep reading because it is a total money saver!

Insurance Coverage. Do you know how crazy expensive some of those specialized formulas are? All three that mine ended up on were between $25 and $30 a can. A CAN?! It’s crazy. And if you’re like me and have an eater on your hands you know how taxing it is on your budget when a baby goes through one can every 1.5 days. Honestly, it’s a financial burden no matter how quick your babe goes through it.

But did you also know that some insurances cover these special formulas? YES! Come to find out, my obsessive searching and reading through support groups and blogs led me to calling my insurance company to find out if there was a chance they’d cover it. After a quick call to Humana I found out they actually did! It’s not common knowledge. In fact, it’s so unknown that my pediatrician scratched his head when I asked for a prescription of Alimentum and the pharmacy took months to get the hang of it but they did!

Aren’t sure if your insurance would cover it? Or maybe phone calls aren’t your thing? Do the math. Matty’s formula costs right at $30 a can and we go through 17 cans a month. That’s $510 a month we would be spending in JUST formula. I have walked out of our pharmacy month after month with $510 worth of formula and only spent a $50 copay feeling like I had won at life. Make the call; it’s worth at least trying.

And lastly, trust your gut. If you suspect something isn’t right, act on it. Try formula after formula, doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment until you get an answer. No baby should have to go through a pain for which they are unable to communicate.

Have a question about intolerances, MSPI (milk soy protein intolerance), formulas or anything in-between? Hit me with it!  I’m here to help any mamma in my shoes! The least we can do is be supportive of each other and help get answers!


Cassie is a hustle-from-home mom to four boys, Blaison, Kade, Kellan and Matty. She worked as a payroll administrator for nine years up until the arrival of their third son, Kellan. After realizing the costs of daycare for three little ones, and the sudden growth in her business, Cassie Treuil Photography, she left her job to focus on building her business and raising her four boys. In between shuffling kids to carpool and football practice, she can be found planning events for RSMB and editing the sweetest little faces of BR. On the weekends, catch her between the football field and Highland Road Park cheering on her Catholic High Bear. She loves her family, an occasional juice cleanse, weekends on the water and her tiny town of Port Allen.


  1. My baby only had bloody stools once but the doctor still recommended we switch to alimentum for a milk protein intolerance. Do you agree with that? My baby still spits up alimentum a lot.

  2. THANK YOU. I am sitting here in tears with my 6 week old in my lap, having just finished a two hour crying fit. My oldest had many of these symptoms and went to nutramigen for a milk allergy, which she still has at 2 years old. When baby #2 started fussing with bottles and becoming inconsolable my gut said go to Nutramigen, but we moved through the whole enfamil line, hoping to avoid the cost as our insurance no longer covers Nutramigen. Nothing worked. We but the bullet and bought the Nutramigen. I was convinced it would save me from insanity this time too! Nothing. I just switched to Alimentum today, so please cross your fingers for relief for our baby girl (and Mommy and Daddy).

    I really needed to read this to see that switching until it’s right is NOT crazy, and I am not the only one who pushes the issue with doctors who seem to think she’s “just a fussy baby.” Again, THANK YOU for sharing your story. I usually feel so alone in this journey through the allergen forest!

  3. Please help guide me in the right direction…. we got released from the hospital with similac pro advanced..non stop crying, farts, and burping for hours! Then similac sensitive, same, no help!
    Then nutramigen helped for two three days then explosive diapers, screaming, nonstop bouncing and lots of burping sessions, them mucus stringy bloody poop! Visit to the ER and now we’re on alimentum! He’s ok over all but has these painful crying spells where he’s inconsolable and his stool is dark green and thick, very hard to get off his bumps, and extremely stinky! Gripe water is the only thing that helps him calm down and stop the crying/screaming ! Something isn’t right! What do u think! Please contact me asap [email protected]

    Thank u!

  4. My baby is one month and a week old today and we’ve been switching his formula since he’s been home. It started with similac pro sensitive and that made him have blow outs and awful painful gas. You could not console him he was so so fussy. So we switched to a different similac sensitive formula and the constipation started he had such hard little poops that it made his butt bleed the first time and every time after that he would just scream and scream. So again we switch his formula to a different similac brand with the same results and now we find ourselves on alimentum. First few days were good he was less fussy he slept pretty well last night but then today he’s spit up so many times that I am now up at 2 am scared to feed him because I just know he’s going to spit up again. I’m losing it trying to figure all of this out. He’s my first baby and my husbands in the military so he works 13 hour days and I’m going to be alone all day tomorrow.

  5. I have been struggling for 3 months with feeding issues for my dear baby girl. This is my second baby and experienced none of this with my first. How long do I need to try the formula to know if it’s helping or hurting? If we do a days worth and she is actually worse than before is that enough time and we should switch?

  6. How did you transition off of Alimentum? We are trying currently per our peds doc and our happy, great sleeper is now waking every 2 hours and fussy as ever. She is currently on Similac sensitive. TIA!

  7. I am on boy 8 with Nutramigen. This one is different. He is 7 weeks old and when it is just nutramigen he has explosive diarrhea. So I switched to Alimentum because it doesn’t have corn syrup. Again diarrhea. I noticed during the switch when its equal parts, half of each formula, hes fine. So now that’s what we do. 3 ounces of each and Poly-vi-sol with iron to firm his stools. The first year is the hardest. Thanks for the prescription recommendation. I’m calling my insurance today. Wish I knew 7 boys ago..hahahaha. This is a great article. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Hi there! I’m a little late to the game, but I figure I can try giving this a shot, in hopes for an answer. My baby is almost three weeks old, and was born via c section. We weren’t aware of this at the time, but apparently, spitting up for the first few days is normal. My husbands sister bought us a few cans of similac alimentium because we were worried about some kind of stomach issue. The baby has been on that since we got home, but now we’re worried that he has some issue with that, because he’s had a few cases of diarrhea and he just had a mucus-y poop. If we started on the expensive and safe formula, should we try switching to the similac pro Advance or something with lactose in it? I’m a little lost as to what to try! Thanks for the advice!

  9. how long do i try formulas before i switch? i’ve tried similac pro-advance (she never pooped on her own and had incredible gas) gerber (can’t seem to digest any powder formulas so now we stick with ready to feed), gentlease (terrible gas/fussiness) and now are on alimentum (so far… fussiness and projectile spitting up.. sometimes straight bile) help! trying to get into see a gi but it takes forever to get an appt. she’s only 11 weeks old and was 4 weeks premature

  10. Hello,

    I have a lot of questions and in need of dire support.
    So found out this week my 5 week old baby has CMPA. The PED gave us samples of Similac alimentum. After some set backs a couple days later, we gave our baby formula for 24 hours. My husband said he noticed a slight difference. The baby is less fussy. But she still has her screaming and crying in pain moments. I feel like it’s still the same and if not even more fussy. Her poop got more mucousy. In this last 24 hours. Should I wait and give Similac more time to work? Also found out baby spits up a lot more with the powder from of the formula so that’s new too. And she only goes poop once or twice a day. I don’t know if that’s because she is growing a getting less stools. Or the formula. A lot of questions. I don’t know if I should wait a week and try nutramigen. It’s confusing and sad and worrisome . Just want my little baby to be okay. She was so happy and peaceful a week or so ago. Thanks for sharing your story! A first time mom looking for help and support ????.


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