Nesquik chocolate syrup gets hypoallergenic formula down the hatch

NutramiginMichael offers this "whatever works" hack for making hypoallergenic formula palatable:

Our son,  Curious Boy, has Bovine Protein Intolerance and so could not consume anything with any beef, dairy or soy products.  My wife breastfed him exclusively until he was about 10 months old.  This was tough on her because she had to avoid these foods as well.  When it came time to begin the weaning process our choices were limited to either Nutramigen or Alimentum, the only two OTC hypoallergenic formulas available. We went with Nutramigen first because we liked the portability of a powder.  The thing is… (and this goes for Alimentum as well) Nutramigen is vile.  Like day-old vomit on a pillow.  And not cute breastfed baby spit-up. [Cute spit-up? Hmm. — Ed.] Remember when you were 18 (or 16 in my case) and woke up the day after a party that you don’t remember and find your face in a pillow full of puke?  Yeah.  The stuff is nasty.

Needless to say, the CB refused the formula at first.  The hack we found is Nesquik chocolate syrup.  It has no dairy or soy.  Use tons.  Like two tablespoons in a 6oz bottle and spread the syrup on the nipple of the bottle.  Once you get your kid taking the formula consistently, you can begin to reduce the amount of chocolate.  CB has been taking it for about three weeks and we are down to 1 teaspoon in a 6oz bottle.

I asked Michael if the caffeine in the chocolate posed a problem, and here was his response:

According to our pediatrician, the caffeine in 1 tbsp of Nesquik might have a minor effect on kids, but it is unlikely.  Once the amount is reduced, to say 1 tsp, there is no significant effect.  It is also a case of balancing potential problems of over-excitement with serious nutritional problems and eating disorders.  We haven’t noticed any changes in our son’s behavior.

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  1. hedra says

    If there’s a diagnosed allergy issue or milk/soy protien intolerance (common, but fortunately almost always outgrown by 3 years old), find out if insurance will cover Elecare or Neosure. They may taste better, and some kids with bovine protien intolerance do NOT tolerate partially hydrolyzed formulas (like Nutrimagen) – I’ve seen it recommended to jump straight to fully hydrolyzed (Elecare, Neosure). YMMV, but important to know, if your child doesn’t tolerate the formula (though many do tolerate them). The older age versions of Neosure/Elecare come in flavors, too. The tropical flavor we tried was pretty nice on its own (though Brendan still wouldn’t drink it, sigh – and no go on chocolate, either!).

    Speaking of chocolate, it can trigger a histamine reaction (like IgE-type allergy, but it bypasses the immune system and just kicks off the histamine directly). So be sure your kid is one who tolerates chocolate! (Fortunately most of these things are cocoa powder products, which seem to cause less trouble than solid chocolate compounds).

    Yeah, I have a child who had (and outgrew) M(S)PI, and another with a both a dairy allergy AND Chocolate allergy (histamine trigger)… why do you ask? LOL!

    (And good on the wife in question for handling the diet restrictions, while breastfeeding. It sure isn’t fun, but soooo worth it if you can do it, for as long as you can do it. Giving up dairy was hard, but giving up dairy AND chocolate… wahhhhh! Glad that soy was still possible in our case, that’s another hard one to avoid!)

  2. says

    First off, kudos to mama for breast feeding that long with restrictions!
    But I didn’t think kiddos after 12 mos NEED milk or formula. They can get calcium from other sources (like broccoli or other greens). So I’m thinking a couple more months of breast feeding and you could skip this whole step altogether?

  3. says

    Regarding Hedra’s comments, insurance as an industry standard doesn’t cover nutritionals, prescription or not, unless a child receives most of her calories via nasogastric or gastrostomy tube. While exceptions exist, don’t count on it. And mama K is right, milk is overrated after 12 m and in babes with persistent reactivity, sometimes you can call the whole thing off if taking other foods well.

    Other ideas that I use to get our kids to take partially hydrolysed (nutramigen and alimentum) and totally hydrolysed (neocate and elecare) formulas is to add a half packet of nutrasweet per 4-6 oz bottle. Another trick is to try 1 drop of vanilla extract to each bottle. This works very well with some babies.

    Finally, sometimes persistence is all that’s needed. Despite their repulsive tastes, most young babies will warm up to them when hungry enough and adjust to the taste.

  4. Mandy says

    Nesquik syrup ingredients:
    “Sugar, Water, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Salt, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Artificial Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Caramel Color, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6.” (
    I don’t even feed my 4 yr. old artificial flavors or dyes– red dyes are especially dangerous!
    This is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard. Why on earth stop breastfeeding? Weaning at 10 mos. is bad enough but weaning onto chocolate syrup!??! THAT is vile.

    As the mom of a dairy-allergic nursing 4 yr. old, trust me, it’s not that hard to avoid allergens and continue to nurse for longer than a few months.


  5. d. feldman says

    I can only infer that in those (at least) four years of parenting Mandy has never had to weigh lesser evils and best interests, make difficult decisions, balance competing necessities or take flak from others about her parenting, never had to become the mother or father of invention, and never gotten driveby assvice from a stranger.

    Back on topic, I also applaud both parents for keeping at the nursing under difficult circumstances and navigating some rough terrain afterward. I love Parent Hacks because it’s like open source software for parenting.

  6. says

    “I love Parent Hacks because it’s like open source software for parenting.” Bravo! As it should be. We leave what works, we tinker with the rest.

    The realities of parenting require us to make choices that don’t read well on paper. While we never had to face severe allergies as Michael’s family did, my daughter suddenly dropped off the growth curve at about 14 months. After a battery of awful tests and months of anxiety, her doctors discovered nothing, and we’ve come to the conclusion that she’s just not a big fan of food (even at 3 1/2). As a result, in addition to her regular diet, she’s been drinking whole milk with Carnation Instant Breakfast added for almost two years. Basically sugar, flavoring, and powdered vitamins. Not my first choice of food additives, but what we felt we had to do under the circumstances. And slowly, she’s learning to expand her food choices. And she’s growing and healthy.

    Won’t work for everyone. Worked for us.

  7. says

    It’s nice to see all the support. Frankly, I’m not sure why anyone see s the need to pass judgment on how we parent. Mandy, you didn’t have to fight the Curious Boy to get him to nurse as he got older. Frankly, it’s none of you’re freakin’ business.
    I know that chocolate can be an allergen, but we took the chance and this worked for us. In Canada, Neocate (the fully hydrolyzed formula) is not covered by most insurance plans and cost abou $800 a month. The vanilla and NutraSweet are both very good ideas.
    I’m a chemist and know a fair bit about what gets added to foods. I believe in eating whole foods as much as possible (we made our own baby food until the CB could eat with us), but sane parenting involves making judgment calls. We were more concerned with the CB developing aversions than the effect of a small quantity of essentially harmless additives.

    In defense of dairy after 12 months: In many cultures adults consume virtually no dairy (especially Asia) but as human life expectancy gets longer and longer, we need more and more calcium reserves (which means keeping a high calcium intake throughout life) in order to prevent osteoporosis. It is possible to get calcium from non-dairy sources, but you need to consume a lot more. Besides all this, milk tastes good. I love milk and hope my kid’s enjoy milk too.

    Our son is now 13 months old and has (thankfully) outgrown is intolerance.

    Keep up the good work hackers.

  8. says

    I applaud parents who have to deal with food allergies. About 20 years ago, I had a classmate whose infant sister couldn’t tolerate dairy or soy products. When I asked what her sister did drink, she replied, “potato swill”.

    My daughter grew out of lactose intolerance by preschool, but when we made the change from breastfeeding to soy formula, I heard a lot of judgmental comments about my decision.