Everything you need to know about plant milks for babies


Are plant milks safe for babies?

Babies under the age of 1 should have breast or formula milk as their main drink. They should not have plant milks as a drink. Plant milks can be mixed with food for example in porridge or in cheese sauces from 6 months but not as their drink. From the age of 1 babies can have plant milks as a drink but not rice milk.

Why can’t babies have rice milk?

Rice naturally contains arsenic. Due to the amount of milk babies drink, they would consume too much arsenic. Babies should not drink rice milk. Rice milk should not be given to children under 5 years of age.

Which nutrients do babies get from cow’s milk?

Milk contains lots of nutrients but the main ones are protein, vitamin B12, calcium and iodine. When you are looking for a plant milk, it is important to check it has a similar amount of protein to cow’s milk (see below) and it is fortified with vitamin B12, calcium and iodine.

Are organic plant milks a good option?

The rules around organic foods are very strict. Organic foods can only be fortified where the fortification is required by law. In the case of plant milks, organic milks are not fortified. Therefore organic plant milks are not a good option for your baby.

Should I make my own plant milk for my baby?

Again, plant milk needs to be fortified to have the nutritional value your baby needs from milk. Making your own plant milk is therefore not a good option.

Which plant milk is best for babies?

A recent report by First Steps Nutrition showed that the plant milk which is closest to cow’s milk is pea milk. This is because the amount of protein in pea milk is closest to cow’s milk so it is the best alternative milk. Soya milk is the next best. Oat milk is not a good plant based milk because it has a very low protein content and so it will fill baby up without giving the nutrition baby needs.

Should my baby have sweetened or unsweetened plant milk?

Breast milk is naturally sweet so you might think sweetened plant milk is the best option but the type of sugar is very different. Babies should have unsweetened, fortified plant milks.

Is plant milk healthier than cow’s milk for my baby?

Cow’s milk contains a wide variety of nutrients. The research suggests that cow’s milk is a good choice. It is a parental choice which milk to have but to get all the vital nutrients cow’s milk offers a fortified pea or soya milk is the healthiest alternative.

What to look for in a plant milk?

  • Check the label – check it is made from pea or soya
  • Check it says ‘unsweetened’
  • Check the ingredients list to see if it has vitamin B12, calcium and iodine added

How much plant milk should a baby have?

The British Nutrition Foundation recommend that from the age of 1, children should have 3 portions of dairy or dairy alternatives each day. A portion is about 100ml milk, 3 tablespoons of plain full yoghurt or 2-4 tablespoons of grated cheese (full fat until age 2).

If you would like individual advice about a more plant based diet to ensure your babies is getting all the nutrition she needs, please get in touch. This article does not replace medical advice. If you are opting for a plant milk because of food allergies or suspected food allergies, please seek individual advice.

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