Can Your Child Have Different Milk?

Having a newborn in your house can be an overwhelming experience. There is a lot to care for such as the baby’s comfort, health, and safety. People spend a fortune to get the best items for these aspects of caregiving. 

Milk is a significant part of a newborn’s health. However, people get confused on what kind of milk is needed since there are so many different types available. One of the most popular options on the market today is almond milk.

Mostly, adults drink it. But, the question is, can babies have almond milk? Well, no need to worry. We have gathered all the information to answer this frequently asked question. Let’s get into it.

Can Babies Have Almond Milk

What is Almond Milk?

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is almond milk? It is plant-based milk commonly used as an alternative to cow’s milk. As the name suggests, it is extracted from the very popular nut, almond.

To prepare this milk, heavy processors soak the almonds in water. After that, they are grinded to yield the white-colored liquid now known as almond milk. 

For four ounces, the nutritional values of this milk can be summed up as; .5 gram protein, 1.5 grams fat, 20 calories, 95 milligrams potassium, 50 IU of Vitamin D, and 50 milligrams of Calcium. 

The taste and content vary with different brands. For instance, you can find sweetened or unsweetened almond milk. Similarly, you can also get flavored or unflavored.

Almonds are high in monounsaturated fatty acids and a powerhouse for nutritional value. Hence, you can rely on almond milk to fulfill your daily need for rich nutrition.

But, the question still remains. Can babies have almond milk? Let’s find out.

Are Babies Allowed To Have Almond Milk?

The answer is both yes and no. If your baby is younger than 12 months, then you should only give your baby formula milk. However, if your baby is older than a year, you can safely give them almond milk. If you want to have your baby try it out, it’s still recommended to check with your pediatrician first.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has studied the various kinds of milk to give babies and still believe that a cow’s milk is a much better option for babies who are older than one year. According to most pediatrics, children under the age of 5 should not drink any plant-based milk because non-dairy milks don’t offer as much nutritional value as cow’s milk. 

While almond milk is safe, it misses on various key nutrients and babies need to grow these in their early stages. For instance, cow’s milk is the best source of protein, potassium, calcium,  B12, and vitamins A & D.

Although there are many plant-based fortified milks, not all brands offer them. Most importantly, they are not that easy to absorb for our bodies.

The Ideal Almond Milk Diet For Babies

Almond milk should not replace cows or formula milk. However, if you are substituting it in the baby’s diet, you need to ensure a few things.

  1.   It should be unsweetened or have low sugar levels.
  2.   The baby is taking other sources of proteins and fats.
  3.   The milk should be fortified with Vitamins A and D as well as Calcium.
  4.   Consult an expert to find out whether the milk can have thickeners or flavors.

The first thing to consider is whether the child has a nut allergy. If so, then you should avoid contact with nuts altogether. Whether it is in milk or some other form, experts recommend not to choose almond milk.

In fact, doctors suggest avoiding all types of nut milk. There are many other plant-based types. If you are using any of them, make sure to check if it’s fortified or not.

With that said, let’s look at why experts prefer cow milk over almond’s.

Can babies have almond milk

Almond Milk vs. Cow Milk

The table below shows the major differences between a cup of cow milk and almond milk.

Contains A Cup of Cow Milk A Cup of Almond Milk
Calcium 276 milligrams 482 milligrams
Vitamin A 395 IU 499 IU
Vitamin D 124 IU 101 IU
Phosphorus 205 milligrams 24 milligrams
Sodium 105 milligrams 189 milligrams
Potassium 322 milligrams 176 milligrams 

The amounts mentioned above are of unsweetened almond milk. Other than that, cow milk also contains 8 grams of fat. Whereas almond milk has only 2.5 grams.

In terms of protein, whole milk is richer as it contains 8 grams of protein, while fortified almond milk contains only 1 gram.

If you are substituting almond milk in the child’s diet, you will need other supplements for fats and proteins. Only then is it recommended to replace cow milk with almond.

Once your baby crosses one year of age, then you can add almond milk into their diet. However, you should not replace other foods with it. Even cow milk can not be a substitute for breast or formula milk. These are the most recommended types for babies under 12 months. If you are breastfeeding, then you will not need other milk at all.

An advantage that almond milk has over other types is that it is low in sugar. But, that can be said only for the unsweetened options. 

Note that some children may be allergic to cow’s milk. It is best to identify if any close member of the child’s family has lactose intolerance. Further, discuss it with a doctor to choose the best milk.

Benefits and Downsides of Almond Milk

Vitamin and Mineral Rich

The most significant benefit of almond milk is its enrichment in vitamins and minerals. It contains even more than cow or other milk products. That includes both dairy and non-dairy types.

Although it is plant-based milk, it contains magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and selenium.

Another benefit is that there are no signs of lactose in this milk. 

Beneficial for the Heart

Since almond milk contains about 40 calories and 3 grams of fat in eight ounces, it does not cause obesity. It is healthy and does not include risks, such as heart conditions and hypertension.

In addition to that, it is also high in omega-3 fatty acids. These are very useful for keeping a healthy heart. Hence, this milk includes a number of benefits for one’s heart. But, make sure to use unsweetened types for both babies and adults.

Effective Antioxidant

Another unique benefit of almond milk is that it contains vitamin E. If you are not familiar with this vitamin, it has various benefits for the skin. Moreover, it is also an effective antioxidant.

The milk has flavonoids. They minimize the number of free radicals inside one’s body. Therefore, it keeps you safe from several diseases, including osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. 

Downsides

Lack of Protein

As mentioned earlier, almond milk only has 1 gram of protein per cup. On the other hand, cow milk provides 8 grams.

Protein is necessary for the body to function. These include skin, bone, enzyme, hormone production and muscle growth. While many plant-based foods are high in protein, almond milk is not one of them.

Not Easily Absorbable

Almond milk is poorly absorbed in our bodies. That is because of its plant-based nature. According to experts, dairy milk is much easier to absorb as compared to non-dairy products.

That is why it is not recommended for children under age five as well. 

Other Non-Dairy Milk for Babies

Some people prefer non-dairy products. Hence, they opt for plant-based or non-dairy milk too. If cow milk and formula milk do not appeal to you, then you can choose almond milk with the precautions mentioned above.

However, if almond milk does not sound right to you, there are still plenty of options. Here are some of the most popular non-dairy milk types for you to choose: 

o   Soy Milk

o   Oat Milk

o   Rice Milk

o   Coconut Milk

o   Hazelnut Milk

Before introducing a new type to your baby, make sure to contact the doctor first. Ask all the necessary information, such as benefits, drawbacks, and whether it suits your child or not. Just like lactose intolerance and nut allergy, a child can have other allergies as well.

Also, make sure to choose fortified milk that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is suitable for both babies and adults.

Sources: 

https://www.eatthis.com/best-almond-milk/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-milk

https://www.elitebaby.us/blogs/news/breastfeeding-6-months

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