Milk SubstitutesPosted: October 12, 2009
My Certain Little Someone turned 1 a couple weeks ago, a milestone we looked forward to with great excitement and anticipation. I spent all my mental energy in the weeks prior to the party on menu planning, decorations, favors and the like. After the party, though, my thoughts turned to the next big milestone: weaning from formula.
I actually had been breast-feeding my son from the beginning, but around the time we discovered his allergies and my diet changed drastically, my supply began to drop. And drop. And drop some more. Finally, by 9 months, he was getting more of his nutrition from formula than from me, and I decided the diet was not worth the effort for those paltry ounces every day. So, with an admittedly heavy heart, I weaned him from breast milk and he has been on exclusively Nutramigen formula since then.
May I just say that Nutramigen is incredibly expensive! It was an unexpected addition to our budget, and I cannot wait until the day we wave it goodbye! So once my little man turned one, I began to research the options and talk to my allergist and other moms.
There are certainly a lot of non-dairy milk options out there these days. Here are a few:
Goat’s Milk – This is the best alternative for cow’s milk; in fact, in many cultures, it is the preferred milk and some people consider goat’s milk to be nutritionally superior to cow’s milk. It’s generally thought of as easier to digest than cow’s milk. However, many children who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to goat’s milk. I spread just a teeny tiny bit on my Certain Little Someone’s arm, and sure enough, a couple hives popped up a few minutes later. No goat’s milk for him!
Soy Milk – Soy milk is probably the preferred non-dairy milk for the majority of people who avoid cow’s milk, whether they are allergic, vegan or avoiding casein (as in the case of many children with autism or ADD). It has proteins, calcium and essential fatty acids that make cow’s milk a staple of children’s diets, so it is very commonly recommended. In fact, soy milk is my allergist’s recommendation, but we still have to do a skin test and a food challenge to determine if he is allergic to it or not. So far, results have been inconclusive. I am a little concerned about two things: the phytoestrogens in soy milk and the fact that soy is almost always genetically modified. The first is particularly a problem because he is a boy, and the second can be avoided by only purchasing organic soy milk. Also, I have read that soy should be kept in balance in a diet, that having too much can be harmful.
Hemp Milk – This is fairly new on the non-dairy scene, but it’s gaining popularity. Like soy milk, it has the same nutrients that a child would get from cow’s milk, so it’s an excellent replacement. It’s also generally considered to be safer, and some say, tastier, than soy milk. But it’s very new, so not a lot is known about it. I’m definitely keeping it under consideration.
Coconut Milk – Turtle Mountain has created a drink-able coconut milk product that has a similar mouth-feel to whole cow’s milk. It has a good amount of healthy fat, calcium and vitamin D, but it’s lacking in calories and protein. I make coconut yogurt regularly for my Certain Little Someone, and I think coconut milk would make a nice addition to his diet, but only if those dietary holes are filled by something else.
Almond Milk – Many people choose almond milk as their non-dairy product of choice because it tastes the best out of all the options. It does have some protein and calcium, but I don’t think it has enough fat and calories for a growing toddler. Furthermore, while my son is not allergic to almonds yet, he’s definitely very sensitive, so I’m going to continue avoiding nuts and nut products until he’s at least 2.
Rice Milk – I personally don’t feel rice milk is a viable option for a toddler, with all their nutritional needs and growing bodies. It’s mostly carbohydrates, not enough fat, protein or calcium.
Oat Milk, Potato Milk, etc. – It seems like milk can be made out of pretty much anything, but I don’t know much about the other options. If you have information to share, please leave a comment!
As it stands right now, I think I’m going to keep my Certain Little Someone on Nutramigen until he’s at least 15 or 18 months. At that point, I’ll probably start slowly switching him over to a combination of milks including soy (if he passes the food challenge), hemp and coconut. In the meantime, I’ll give him a taste of those milks, but I’m not considering them an essential part of his diet yet.
~As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word. I Peter 2:2~
What milk substitute have you chosen for your child?