Even before you became a parent you likely heard the buzz surrounding soy and its safety for human consumption. But what about soy milk for toddlers? Is it okay for children to drink? Yes and no. Join us as we tackle tricky questions about the consumption of soy for toddlers.
About Soy Milk
Soy milk is a dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk that is made from soybeans. It is typically white or off-white in color, cream in texture and can have a mildly sweet taste. In many cases, soy milk is fortified meaning some vitamins and nutrients were added to the beverage to increase its nutritional profile.
Soy milk is often fortified with calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial vitamins. Soy milk is naturally a good source of protein, making it a great pick for those looking to boost protein consumption without adding the addition of too much fat and calories.
Is Soy Milk Safe For Toddlers?
Generally speaking, soy milk may be safe for toddlers, but there are a few things we’d like you to keep in mind before serving soy milk to your child.
First, it is worth noting that most studies have not found significant cause to be alarmed about the consumption of soy or soy milk for young children. In some cases there appear to be benefits surrounding the consumption of soy for both children and adults, especially when dietary restrictions limit a person’s ability to drink traditional whole milk.
Having said that, one should also bear in mind that very few studies have been conducted on the effects of soy on children because it can be difficult, and at times unethical, to perform tests on children that might have negative outcomes. Thus, it is important that though studies have not yet shown correlating links between soy milk and negative impacts on toddler health, that you only serve soy milk to your child in moderation (as is recommended with any food).
Next, we must consider the type of soy milk being served to toddlers before we answer the question of how safe the milk is. Thankfully, most soy milks are made from the entire soybean, however, some products that contain only soy protein isolates (soy yogurts, soy protein meats, and more) could have negative impacts on health. Thus, you must steer clear of soy protein isolates and only stick with minimally processed soy foods, such as soy milk, to minimize known risks.
Lastly, you’ll want to bear in mind that not all soy milks are alike. Some soy milks may come fortified while others may not. Moreover, some soy milks may contain refined sugar, and lots of it, while others remain unsweetened.
Like most other milks, there are also organic and non-organic versions of soy milk if that matters to you. The important thing is that you choose the soy milk that is fortified, has little to no sugar and is minimally processed before considering it as a worthy beverage for your toddler.
Is Too Much Soy Milk Bad For Toddlers?
Is too much soy milk bad for toddlers? Too much of anything that is good may end up bad if you overdo it.
As previously stated, little is known about the effects of soy milk on toddlers. As a result, it is difficult to say whether too much soy milk will have an adverse effect on your little one.
Soy milk is known, however, to harm the thyroid. If your child deals with thyroid issues, you may wish to limit or skip soy milk altogether.
Nevertheless, soy milk appears to be safe and even beneficial for most toddlers. For moderation’s sake, we recommend giving no more than 16 ounces of soy milk to your toddler daily and to avoid allowing your toddler to consume sweetened soy milk as these contain added sugars and unnecessary calories that could lead to excessive weight gain and other negative outcomes.
Can Soy Milk Cause Constipation in Toddlers?
This is a tricky question to answer.
The truth is that both soy and cow’s milk may cause constipation in children, but for differing reasons.
Cow’s milk often causes children constipation because of an inability to tolerate proteins found in the milk. Constipation of this sort can crop up anytime your child consumes milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter or other types of dairy.
Having said that, soy milk can also cause your toddler tummy woes. Because soy milk contains fiber and can sometimes make stools more firm, you may notice that your child begins to have a decrease in bowel movements.
So, what should you do?
If you notice that your child gets constipated from traditional milk, you may wish to switch your child over to soy milk and see what happens. Though soy milk can make stools firm, that isn’t the case for everyone. Just as some people are more sensitive to cow’s milk than others, the same holds true of those who consume soy. Your best bet is to give soy milk a go and see what happens.
Can 1 Year Old Drink Soy Milk?
What Age Can Babies Drink Soy Milk?
Because studies are inconclusive as to whether or not soy and soy milk are harmful to children, we recommend you wait until your baby is at least a year old before introducing him or her to soy milk.
Remember, no child that is still taking formula should be given plant-based milks as a substitute for their formula. Even fortified milks will never provide the amount of nutrition to satiate your growing baby. If your baby cannot tolerate traditional formula, speak to your pediatrician about safe and healthful plant-based formula options for your child instead.
Soy Milk Pros
Despite its controversial reputation, there are several benefits associated with drinking soy milk. Not all of the benefits will apply to your toddler, however, it can be good to know the many ways that the addition of soy milk may support the health of your family.
The benefits of soy milk include:
- Improved Brain Health
- Improved Heart Health
- Good Source of Protein
- Mild Tasting
- Great For Improving Symptoms Associated With Menopause
- Easy to Sip
- Readily Available
Soy Milk Cons
Despite the many benefits of soy milk, there are a few things you should keep in mind about consuming soy milk as they may cause negative impacts on your health:
- Can Negatively Affect Thyroid Function
- May Mimic Estrogen in the Body
- Little Known About Its Effect on Children
- May Contain GMOs
- May Cause Constipation For Some
- Added Sugar Varieties May Cause Excessive Weight Gain
- Children Not Accustomed to It May Not Appreciate the Taste
Which Milk is Healthiest For Toddlers?
The healthiest milk to give your young toddler is likely to be breast milk. Young toddlers can continue drinking breast milk as long as mom and child are comfortable!
However, if breastfeeding is a thing of the past for you, then cow’s milk is likely your next best choice. If your child doesn’t agree with cow’s milk or if you are on a plant-based diet, soy milk is best because it contains protein and fortified nutrients, such as calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, that closely mimic the nutritional benefits found in cow’s milk but without the extra fat.
What Brand of Soy Milk Is Best For Toddlers?
Before recommending a couple of specific brands for you to try with your toddler, we first want to ask that you take a look at the overall nutritional content of any soy milk you pick up at the market.
Soy milks that are best for toddlers will be fortified, contain no added sugar, and will be unflavored. Even better? Pick the organic variety for purity’s sake. Remember that your toddler is very young and their digestive system can be sensitive as it develops. Opting for organic drinks helps eliminate or lessen unwanted chemicals and other undesired additions to your child’s beverage.
Want recommendations for specific brands? You could try widely available Silk soy milks. They come in versions that are unflavored, organic, and free of refined sugars. Another favorite for youngsters is Alpro Soya Growing Up Drink as it is specifically formulated for kiddos that are ages 1-3.
Is Soy Milk For Toddlers Safe? Maybe…
All in all, soy milk for toddlers may be safe, but the jury seems to be out on this one. There are pros and cons to allowing children to consume soy milk on a daily basis. There is still some controversy as to whether or not soy milk is actually good for you.
As of yet, there aren’t a ton of proven negative outcomes that have come about because of toddler consumption of soy. But it must be noted that tests done on children concerning the effects of soy are limited. Thus, we recommend serving your toddler no more than 16 ounces of soy milk daily.
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LynnLynn is a freelance writer, a wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids. Lynn started Infant Empire with the aim of making parenting easier for fellow mums and dads. She believes the parenting tips provided here will be of great help to all parents.
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