Which plant milk is the best?
There is a variety of information out there with recommendations as to if/when we should transition our babies to plant milk, along with which type of plant milk would be the most suitable for their age. As our babies reach toddlerhood, some may still be consuming breastmilk or formula, which is wonderful! However, some parents may be interested in switching and are wondering which plant milk they should transition their baby to.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continues for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.” -Centre For Disease Control And Prevention
Plant milk should never, ever be used as a substitute for breastmilk or formula before the baby has turned at least one year old. Infants sole nutrients come from all of the vitamins and minerals in breastmilk or formula, and plant milk simply does not have enough sustenance for a baby. Whether you are weaning your baby or they have self-weaned, well after they turn a year old you can safely give them plant milk instead, along with a variety of nutrient-dense plant-based foods. Although once children are done with breastmilk or formula, they do not need to be switched to another kind of milk, such as plant milk. Switching your child to drinking water, along with a healthy variety of solid food, is more than okay! However if you wish to have your child drink plant milk for any reason of your choosing (they need to gain some weight, they find milk comforting etc), there are some wonderful options out there:
Cashew: A thick and creamy milk that is high in vitamin E and healthy fats.
Hemp: is high in omega 3’s which is key for children, it is also is very easy on little digestive systems.
Coconut: has lots of calories and healthy fats, packed with fiber and B vitamins.
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Rice: best suited for those with allergies, fortified with great vitamins but often has lots of sugar.
Soy: one of the highest protein contents, and also is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Oat: a creamy milk with a high amount of natural fiber, iron and calcium and also low in fat.
Almond: low in calories but rich in good fats with a variety of vitamins such as calcium and vitamin A.
Flax: made with flaxseed oil, it is very creamy, high in fat and omega 3’s.
Pea: one of the highest protein contents and rich in iron, omega 3’s, calcium and vitamin D.
READ MORE: VEGAN CALCIUM SOURCES
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My top three favorite plant milks for toddlers would be hemp, cashew, and oat, although I know many parents who love soy as well. Really, it’s all about personal preference and what the needs of your child are. If your child is underweight, then perhaps coconut or cashew milk would be best. If your child has allergies, then I might suggest rice or pea milk instead.
Before you rush out to purchase your favorite plant milk for your little one, there are some ingredients in store-bought plant milks that you should be wary of:
Sugar: Most plant milks sold in the store have incredible amounts of sugar in them, be sure to purchase the ‘plain/unsweetened’ versions.
Carrageenan: A super inflammatory seaweed based additive that was labeled as a ‘possible human carcinogen’ by the World Health Organization.
Vegetable Oils: Generally harvested from heavily sprayed GMO corn and soy plants, and are simply meant to add texture to the plant milk but are not good for our bodies.
‘Natural Flavours’: is extremely vague and means that anything that comes from a plant or animal that is roasted and boiled down to create flavor. Be sure your plant milk is certified vegan!
…and the list goes on, depending on what brand you choose, so don’t skip reading the label! If you’re trying to avoid the above additives, it might be best to make your own plant milk at home using organic products and only adding in what you desire. Here is a very simple guideline for making your own:
- 1 cup of nuts and/or seeds soaked overnight
- 4 cups of filtered water
- 2-3 dates (optional)
- Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Rinse the pre-soaked nuts/seeds and place into a blender with all of the other ingredients. Blend on high for roughly 1 minute. Strain using a nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer. Sore in the fridge for 3-5 days.
And there you have it. A simple list of which plant milk you should transition your baby to if you chose to. Which plant milk is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below!