In general, it is not recommended for babies to have soy milk or other plant based milks before the age of one because they do not have the complete nutritional profile that babies require for growth and development. Experts recommend either breast milk or soy baby formula specifically made for babies for complete nutrition.
Can babies drink soy milk? Yes, babies can drink soy milk if they are not allergic to soy. In fact, soy is present in many infant formulas, however it is not recommended for babies to have soy milk before the age of 12 months because it is not a nutritional replacement from breastmilk or formula.
Between the ages of 6 to 12 months, your baby might be ready to start eating solid foods. This is the perfect time to introduce your child to plant based milks like soy milk since your child will get additional nutrients they need from solid foods.
We also recommend you add a little water to soy milk when your baby is ready to try it, but realize that this is not a wholesome substitution for breastmilk or formula. In general we think of soy milk as a healthy choice for adults, but less so for young children and babies.
Soy milk is a popular vegan alternative to regular dairy milk. Soy milk does contain a lot of nutrients and minerals, but should be supplemented in a balance diet.
From the ages of 1 to 5 years, we recommend your child mainly drink water, formula and regular cow’s milk. Soy milk be used in moderation as an alternative to supplement your child’s regular diet because it is fortified with additional minerals, but there are concerns with consuming too much soy.
Make sure you are only giving your child unsweetened soy milk. While all soy milks might be fortified, the sweetened kind tends to have a high sugar content that is unnecessary for a developing child’s diet.
Since there are so many types of soy milk on the shelves, check the label before purchasing and to look for unsweetened with added vitamins and minerals.
Although experts recommend children only drink soy milk in limited quantities after the age of 12 months, there may be many reasons to feed your child or baby soy milk.
Many people and children have dairy allergies, are lactose intolerant, or have lactose sensitivities and cannot easily drink regular cow’s milk. In these cases, or other circumstances, soy milk or other plant based milks might be a great alternative to deliver essential vitamins and minerals.
Keep in mind that soy milk will provide hydration, but not give your child all the nutrients they require and will need to be supplemented with other foods.
This article explores whether or not babies can drink soy milk. Answered below are frequently asked questions about babies drinking soy milk and potential concerns about the plant based beverage.
Because there are concerns about consuming too much soy products for babies, this is something you should bring up with a pediatrician before completely changing your child’s diet.
Is soy good for babies?
Soy is considered to be a nutritious choices for most children, and is often found in infant formula. Babies under the age of 6 months should be fed breast milk or infant formula since those contain the full set of essential nutrients that infants require to develop.
When your child is above the age of one, you can start introducing soy milk in small amounts as a supplement to water or formula.
There are concerns over consuming too much soy during early development.
Soy contains a compound known as phytoestrogens, and some studies have indicated an increased intake of phytoestrogens might cause early puberty. More research is required to determine the legitimacy of these arguments [9, 10, 11].
Phytoestrogens display a potential link to higher levels of estrogen in the body, which may lead to hormonal imbalances. Most of this research is regarding prolonged effects of consuming excess soy, so experts recommend moderation.
Can I give soy milk to my baby?
If your baby is above 12 months, you can give them soy milk. However, it is not recommended for infants below 12 months because it is not a nutritional replacement for breastmilk or infant formula.
Soy milk might be a good alternative for babies with a milk or dairy allergy or intolerance. Soy milk can also be a good option if your household is vegan, but we would still recommend waiting until after the age of 12 months and only consume it as a limited beverage in moderation.
It is not advisable for parents to fully substitute plant-based milk such as soy milk for cow’s milk or formula in children below 5 years as they have more required nutrients. A fortified soy milk can be a good supplement since it has additional nutrients, but might not be suitable as a nutritional replacement.
If your baby needs an alternative milk for allergy reasons, or you made the decision to give your baby plant based milks, you need to ensure that your baby’s diet contains other food rich in essential vitamins, minerals and protein.
Is it safe to give babies soy milk?
Babies below one year should not be given soy milk regularly, but you can give infant small amounts of soy milk, if they are not allergic to soy, when introducing solid foods into a baby’s diet. After 12 months, you can give your child fortified, unsweetened soy milk to keep hydrated, but it is not a complete nutritional meal replacement for a growing child.
Soy milk can be a healthy supplemental drink for your child because it offers hydration with minerals and vitamin levels similar to cow’s milk. However, it is not a substitute for all macro- and micronutrients in cow’ milk.
Although conventional thinking can change, we have not found any compelling evidence suggesting soy milk is harmful to children and toddlers when used as a supplemental beverage. However, experts still think the safest milk for your infant is breast milk as long as it is an option.
Can 6 month old baby drink soy milk?
No, babies below the age of 6 months should only take breast milk or formula specifically made for infants. Soy milk is not a meal replacement for breastmilk or infant formula because it does not contain all the necessary nutrition.
The ideal time to introduce soy milk to your baby is when they start eating solid foods since they will be getting a wider variety of nutrients from other food groups. If your child suffers from protein-induced enterocolitis, you must avoid soy milk at all costs until about five years of age.
Many infant formulas include soy, but it is still suggested to start with a small amount when first introducing soy milk to your toddler. If you think they like it, and do not have any negative symptoms like allergies, you can consider giving your toddler soy milk as a beverage more often, but not as a meal replacement for breast milk or formula.
We suggest plain, unsweetened soy milk that has been fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Side Effects of Soy Milk for Babies
It is not a good idea to feed your baby soy milk as a singular source of nourishment. It doesn’t have all the nutrients that are crucial for healthy baby growth and development.
Avoid giving it to any infant below 12 months because it is not as nutritionally benefits as breastmilk or formula, and then only in small quantities. Soy is a common allergen and your child may not have a tolerance for soy milk, it is present in many formulas so they may be exposed to soy at an earlier point.
- Feeding your baby only soy milk can lead to extreme nutritional deficiencies.
- Soy milk might prevent the absorption of calcium in babies.
- Soy milk, in certain cases, can result in longer term health problems since it contains phytoestrogen that triggers estrogen-like production in babies.
- In some rarer but still possible cases, drinking soy milk can lead to thyroid issues.
Babies Drinking Soy Milk: Conclusion
A baby can suffer from malnutrition if you feed them soy milk instead of breast milk or baby formula. Consider using soy milk as a beverage supplement after the age of 12 months.
If you live in a vegan household, or your baby is sensitive to other types of milk, then soy milk can be an alternative, but should be in companion with other complete nutritional foods. If this is the case, you should always choose fortified, unsweetened soy milk for your child.
The essential nutrients and minerals of soy milk tend to vary depending on the brand. Make sure to check the labels before you purchase any soy milk and check for vitamin content and added sugars.
A pediatrician will have a good recommendation of milks and plant based beverages for your baby. If your child does have a condition that prevents them from having dairy or cow’s milk, a pediatrician or specialist should definitely be consulted to create a nutrition plan for a balanced diet.
If you are still interested in feeding your baby soy milk, you will need to supplement various sources of nutrients to ensure healthy growth. If you notice any effects of soy milk on your baby, such as allergies, consult your doctor immediately.