Transitioning babies from breast milk to other alternatives is a gradual process and should only be done when your baby is ready. Determining the proper age is a very personal question, but after your child reaches the age of 12 months, plant based milks can be a nice supplement to their diet.
With so many plant based options, it can be hard to determine which is the best for your child. We decided to take a deeper look at soy milk and answer some of the frequently asked questions to help you determine if it is the right choice for your toddler.
Can I give 1-year-old soy milk?
Yes, it is safe to give soy milk in moderation to a 1-year toddler as long as they are not allergic to soy. Experts don’t recommend soy milk for any toddler under the age of 12 months because it is not a wholesome replacement for breastmilk or infant formula.
After the age of 1 year, your child is further along in their development and is more likely consuming other solid foods to balance out their diet.
Nutritionists and health experts tend to recommend dairy milk for babies between 1 and 5 years, however soy milk can be a great alternative because it has a similar nutritional profile. Soy milk tends to have fewer calories, but usually contains similar vitamins and minerals because it is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
While experts don’t recommend soy milk be the main source of calories, it can play a minimal role in your toddler’s diet without concern.
Is soy milk good for 1-year-old babies?
Yes, soy milk is good for 1-year-old babies but it is not recommended for babies below one year old. Under 1 year, your baby should stick to breastmilk, or specifically designed soy infant formula, because they possess all the nutrients required by babies to grow, unlike plain soy milk which does not compare in nutritional values.
When your baby turns 1 year old, nutrition can change, and this is when you can introduce dairy and/or other unsweetened and fortified plant-based milks like soy milk. Soy milk can also be a good option if your kid is sensitive to dairy milk, if your family is vegan, or if your child has an underlying medical issue like an allergy or intolerance to other foods.
Before you consider giving soy milk to your toddler, chat with your pediatrician to help choose the right type of soy milk.
In general, you want to choose fortified and unsweetened soy milk, but there are still many varieties with those attributes. Each brand can have varying nutritional content, and many professionals think that the rate of nutrient absorption in plant based milks is lower than that of dairy milk.
A pediatrician might have suggestions specific for your child, therefore can help guide to the right brand specific for your child’s needs.
Is soy milk safe for a 1-year-old?
Yes, soy milk consumed in moderation can be safe for a 1-year-old without allergies. Soy milk is high in protein and contains compete proteins, meaning all the essential amino acids for rebuilding muscles are available.
Most soy milks are also fortified with calcium and vitamin D, which might be lacking in other parts of your child’s diet. Soy milk also contains other vitamins and minerals that could help round out a balanced diet.
Another reason experts like soy milk in moderation is because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fatty acids are commonly referred to as “healthy fats” and are often lacking in a majority of western diets.
Omega-3 fatty acids are used in basic cell functions and have been shown to be vital in many different functions in a body. Without getting into too many details, increasing the number of Omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial because typical diets, especially for children, are lacking these essential components.
Why is soy milk not good for babies?
Despite soy milk being safe for your child to consume, some studies have concluded that high consumption of soy milk is linked to various health issues.
The most common one is an allergic reaction to soy, where soy is one of the eight most common allergens and is especially prevalent in young children. An allergy to the protein in soy can cause issues like skin rashes, nausea, and abdominal pain .
Soy milk also contains a compound known as phytoestrogens. Different studies have shown that a high intake of phytoestrogens might cause early puberty, but more research is required to ascertain these arguments [9, 10, 11].
Phytoestrogens have also been linked to higher levels of estrogen in the body, which can cause hormonal imbalances. Most of this research studied the prolonged effects of excess soy consumption, so expert recommend moderation.
How much soy milk is too much for a toddler?
Determining the right amount of any food is tricky since your child grows and develops so quickly in those younger years. What may have been enough food one day, might be too little the next.
However with soy milk, moderation and slow increases in the total amount given to your child. If soy milk is the only option, we recommend speaking with your pediatrician or nutritional specialist to determine a good plan centered on soy milk for your developing child.
Experts recommend a cup of soy milk for toddlers over the age of 12 months, and recommend erring on the lower end. Excess of a cup might be too much for your child due to the phytoestrogen content in soy milk, especially if they are still consuming soy based formula.
Same can be said for soy based infant formula. Though there are specially designed products, more research needs to be done on the side effects of soy baby formula in relation to consuming too much soy at an early age.
We know you might not always have the option, but you might want to consider giving your child soy milk less than everyday.
How much soy milk should a 1-year-old drink?
It might be helpful to give your child the same amount of milk each day, be it soy, dairy, or other plant based milk. Experts recommend a maximum of ~20 ounces or ~2 cups daily for toddlers aged 1-5.
However, if you are also feeding your child other soy based products, we recommend measuring the total mount of all servings of soy per day and staying below 2-3 total servings.
A serving of soy can be:
- ½ cup tofu
- ½ cup soy milk
- ½ cup tempeh
- ½ soybeans
Soy Milk Over 1 Year Old: Conclusion
Soy milk can be a great alternative to dairy milk for some kids and a terrific supplement to a balanced diet for others. It is not a nutritional substitute for breastmilk or formula, therefore it is not recommended to ever replace breastmilk or formula with soy milk.
Soy milk has a number of nutritional benefits, such as containing complete proteins and a number of vitamins and minerals. Soy milk is typically fortified with additional nutrients to be a bit more balanced, but it is never meant to be a meal replacement for formula or breastmilk.
Furthermore, excess soy consumption has been linked to many issues including hormonal imbalances or even early puberty.
We suggest speaking to your pediatrician or nutritional specialist if you are considering soy milk as a central part of your child’s diet.
Though a child over 1 can drink soy milk, there are a few concerns over the subject. It should never be a complete replacement for other food groups, and soy products should be consumed in moderation to prevent adverse reactions.