Your baby needs essential vitamins and nutrients to successfully grow and develop, but is rice milk the way to go? Before your child’s first birthday, he or she receives these vitamins and minerals from formula or breast milk. After your child’s first birthday, they are ready to be weaned from formula or breast milk to milk.
But with all the different types of milk out there, which is best for your baby?
While it is believed that whole (cow’s) milk is the most beneficial, soy, rice and goat’s milk are also gaining popularity among many parents. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin A, which will help build your child’s bones and eventual teeth, as well as phosphorus.
Most milk also contains vitamin D, which assists your child in absorbing the required calcium. Milk also contains ample protein for your baby’s growth and carbs which provide the energy your child needs to play all day long.
Can I Give My Baby Rice Milk? Answer: Opt for More Fatty Milk
While other members of your household may drink lower-fat versions of milk, it is extremely important your child starts with a more fatty milk. Your child needs the higher fat and caloric content for his or her growth and development. In fact, children under the age of two should consume half of their total caloric intake from fats. Once your child celebrates their third birthday, you can switch them to lower fat milks.
If you prefer, rice milk can also be given to your baby instead of cow’s milk. Rice milk, as the name indicates, comes from processing rice and is a type of grain milk. In its most common form it is an unsweetened milk and derives from brown rice rather than white. It does not contain any cholesterol or lactose and is often consumed by people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to soy.
Keep in mind that rice milk does not contain all the nutrients of cow’s milk. Be sure to check the label to make sure it is fortified with vitamin A, vitamin D and calcium. These nutrients are essential to keeping your baby healthy. Also make sure that it is whole-fat rice milk, and not low-fat or fat-free. Whole fat is important for brain development in children under two.
Since rice milk is made from plants, it does not contain any vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods, including cow’s milk. Using rice milk with vitamin-fortified foods, such as cereal, is a good way to make sure your child is getting a good amount of nutrients.
Unlike cow’s milk and soy milk, rice milk does not contain many proteins, so you will need to make sure your child’s diet contains other sources, such as meat, eggs and legumes. Rice milk does contain more carbohydrates than cow’s milk, and it is available in a variety of flavors.
It is very important to wait until after your child’s first birthday to introduce milk into their diet. Before your child hits the one-year mark, his or her digestive system cannot properly digest the milk proteins. Milk also has a great amount of sodium and potassium, as well as chloride, which can harm your baby’s kidneys. Most importantly though, is that milk does not every vitamin and mineral your baby needs for proper growing and developing in their first year of life, especially vitamin E, iron and zinc. Giving your baby milk before his or her first birthday could cause a deficiency of iron as well as bleeding internally.
Children between the ages of one and two should consume between 16 and 24 ounces of milk per day. Note that it is possible for your child to consume too much milk. More than two to three glasses of milk during the day can fill your child up, making him or her less likely to be hungry at dinner for other foods they need in their diet.
When it comes time for your baby to switch from formula or breast milk to milk, rice milk is a good choice. Just remember that it does not contain the same nutrients and proteins as cow’s milk, so make sure you choose a brand that is rich in vitamins and that your child is getting enough proteins from other foods in his or her diet.
If you have any questions about rice milk, it is recommended to consult your child’s pediatrician to discuss your concerns.