Is soy milk a healthy option for a baby? When they’re growing and developing, they need a great deal of vitamins and nutrients to make sure they are healthy. Before your child’s first birthday, formula and breast milk ensure your baby receives the right amount of vitamins and nutrients to grow and develop.
Once your baby has his or her first birthday, it is time to make the switch from breast milk or formula to milk.
It is important to wait until after your child’s first birthday before giving him or her milk. Your baby’s digestive system cannot properly digest the milk proteins before they reach the one-year mark. Milk also has too much sodium, potassium and chloride, which can affect your baby’s kidneys.
Most importantly though, is that milk does not have all the vitamins and minerals your baby needs for growth and development in his or her first year, especially vitamin E, iron and zinc. Giving your baby milk before his or her first birthday could cause an iron deficiency and internal bleeding.
Can I Give My Baby Soy Milk? Answer: Likely Unnecessary
Once your baby is ready for milk, it becomes the most important form of nutrients. Milk is a great source of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A that will help build your child’s bones and teeth. It will also help your child’s muscles.
Most milk is fortified with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb the calcium it needs. Milk provides protein for growth and carbohydrates that give your child the energy he or she needs to play all day long.
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.
Using Soy-Based Milk
If your child has a milk allergy or if your family is vegan, you can substitute whole milk for soy milk. Make sure you check the labels of the soy milk because not all varieties have the same nutritional value. While some soy milk brands are fortified with vitamin D, vitamin A and calcium, others are not. The amount of calcium and other nutrients can also vary, so make sure you purchase those that have the greatest nutritional value.
A Rare Allergy
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 2-3% of children are allergic to milk, and 95% of them outgrow it by their third birthday. The main symptoms of milk allergy are blood in the stool, vomiting or diarrhea. Other symptoms include a rash around the mouth and chin, nasal stuffiness, cough, wheezing and breathing difficulties.
If your child is allergic to milk, make sure to avoid milk-based products, such as cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt and butter. You’ll also need to avoid products that have cow’s milk proteins, such as casein and whey.
If You Used Soy Formula
If your child drank soy-based formula, it is best to check with your child’s pediatrician before starting him or her on milk. They may want you to try cow’s milk first instead of soy, or they may want you to continue using soy.
Some children have trouble making the transition from formula or breast milk to milk. If this is the case for your child, try mixing milk with formula or breast milk. Use more formula or breast milk the first few times, and gradually increase the amount of milk and reduce the amount of breast milk or formula until your child is drinking 100% milk.
If your child is still refusing, make sure they receive the 16-oz. minimum by giving them foods rich in milk, such as puddings, custards, yogurts and shakes.
While cow’s milk is best for children under the age of three, soy milk can be substituted if necessary. It is highly important to make sure you are choosing a soy milk that has a high nutritional value, as the vitamins and minerals in milk is your child’s main source of nutrients at this age.
If you have any questions about choosing soy milk, it is important to contact your child’s pediatrician to discuss your questions or concerns.