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How to Choose the Best Milk for Babies

Posted on: June 23, 2020, edit by Jason

How to Choose the Best Milk for Babies?

When babies are born, milk provides all of the nutrition that they need for the first year of their life. Many new mothers feed their babies breast milk, which is specifically formulated for the infant, and there are a number of formulas out there that are designed to meet the babies’ nutritional needs.

When it is time to start transitioning your baby to milk, you may want to choose the healthiest possible option. There are many different schools of thought about this and it is important to take a look at each one. At the end of the day, you need to choose the milk that best fits with your beliefs and provides adequate nutrition for your baby.

For a long time now, cow’s milk has been considered to be the most nutritious for babies but there are many families who question this choice. They may have a baby with allergies or who is lactose intolerant, they may follow a vegan diet, or their baby may not like milk. If any of these apply to your family, you will need a healthy alternative. Take a look at milk choices for babies, their benefits, and their drawbacks.

Breast Milk and Formula

Not surprisingly, many people have strong opinions about breastfeeding. The World Health Organization recommends feeding breast milk for two years to meet the nutritional needs of babies and both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months.

milk powder
milk powder

The reason for these recommendations is the breast milk provides nearly the perfect mix of protein, fat, and vitamins for your baby to grow and develop during this time. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help your baby develop a healthy immune system and fight off bacteria and viruses.

Experts also recommend that you continue breastfeeding until your baby is 12 months old. You can supplement with other solid foods after six months. You can breastfeed up to or beyond two years and this is a personal choice that you will need to make.

In addition to the health and nutrition benefits, the physical bonding helps babies to develop a sense of security. However, breastfeeding is not the only choice. There are mothers who are unable to breastfeed, choose not to breastfeed, or have to stop for periods of time. These mothers choose a formula that contains all of the nutrients that a baby needs to grow. Some families use formula as a supplement to breastfeeding and others use formula exclusively.

Whether or not you breastfeed is a personal choice. As long as you choose a formula that provides the nutrients your baby needs, your baby will be able to grow and develop in a healthy way.

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk has been considered the best milk for babies for a long time. The reason for this is that it has high levels of fat, protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A. It is easy to buy at most stores and it is considered to be cost effective. When you start your baby on cow’s milk, you want to feed whole milk because it has the fat and nutrients that your baby needs to continue developing and growing.

milk
milk

Experts do not recommend that you give your baby cow’s milk until he or she is 12 months old because it has a high concentration of nutrients such as vitamins D and A and protein, which is good for your baby after 12 months but can be hard on your baby’s kidneys before that time.

When you introduce cow’s milk for the first time, you should start slowly to allow your baby to adjust to the different nutrient content. From the age of one to two, your baby can safely drink whole cow’s milk and then your pediatrician may suggest switching to a reduced-fat option at the age of two.

Another factor to consider in cow’s milk is whether you should feed organic, grass fed, or both. Organic foods are free of chemicals and pesticides, which means that your baby isn’t ingesting any of these items. Unfortunately, foods, including milk, that are not labeled organic may contain growth hormones and antibiotics or other chemicals. It is always better to choose organic milk for your baby.

Grass-fed cows graze in fields, which is a much healthier life for them. It means that they are getting the nutrition they need and in turn, they have more nutritious milk. If cows are not grass-fed, they may eat a diet high in corn and their milk will be lower in nutritional content.

If you want the best possible nutrition for your baby, you should try to find whole milk that is both organic and grass-fed. This will ensure that your baby isn’t getting any growth hormones or antibiotics in his or her milk.

Is Milk Necessary?

The short answer is that milk is not necessary but it is a very convenient way to get all of the calories and nutrition that we need. If your child doesn’t like milk or you are opposed to feeding it, there are alternative sources for this nutrition. You can choose a different dairy product with full fat to meet your baby’s calcium, protein, and fat needs.

If you choose not to feed any dairy to your baby, you need to find a food source that contains the necessary calcium, protein, and fat. You might consider talking to your pediatrician or a good dietician to determine the ideal diet for your baby.

What About Alternative Milk Sources?

There are many milk alternatives out there and you can get them sweetened or unsweetened. You should choose an alternative milk without sweeteners or flavors added.

Take a look at the following alternatives on the market:

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Soy milk
  • Goat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Oat milk
  • Ripple milk

Each one has varying nutritional value and you should become familiar with what it is so that you can supplement your baby’s food intake to ensure that he or she gets all of the nutrition necessary for healthy growth and development.

Almond Milk

People often use almond milk as a substitute for cow’s milk for babies. It tastes good and it can substitute for cow’s milk in many different recipes. It has a similar nutritional makeup but it is lower in protein and fat. You need to make sure that you are supplementing your baby’s diet with other sources of these important nutrients. Take a look at the following:

  • Cow’s milk, 250 ml:
    • 130 calories
    • 8 grams fat
    • 8 grams protein
    • 30% DV of calcium
    • 45% DV of Vitamin D
    • 60% DV of Vitamin B12
  • Almond milk, 250 ml:
    • 35 calories
    • 2.5 grams fat
    • 1 gram protein
    • 45% DV of calcium
    • 25% DV of Vitamin D
    • 50% DV of Vitamin B12

As you can see, your primary concern is making up the protein and the fat in your baby’s diet.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is another substitute for cow’s milk and it has a high fat content. However, some brands are watered down and have a lower fat content. You should check the label. Your baby needs a healthy amount of fat through the age of two for healthy growth and development.

The problem with coconut milk is that it has very little protein, some calcium, and vitamins D and B12. You can get the fat content your baby needs but you will need alternate sources of nutrition to make sure that your baby is getting the other nutrients. Take a look at the nutritional makeup of coconut milk:

  • Coconut milk, 250 ml:
    • 80 calories
    • 5 grams fat
    • 0.3 grams protein
    • 45% DV calcium
    • 25% DV Vitamin D
    • 50% DV Vitamin B12

It is important to read the label when you choose coconut milk because the nutritional content will vary between brands but you will need to make sure that your baby is getting enough protein from other sources.

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk has a good amount of fat and protein. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for your baby. However, it has lower amounts of important vitamins and minerals that your baby needs. Take a look at the following:

  • Hemp milk, 250 ml:
    • 110 calories
    • 7 grams fat
    • 5 grams protein
    • 2% DV of calcium
    • no Vitamin D
    • no vitamin B12

Soy Milk

Soy milk is the most similar to cow’s milk of all the alternatives. It has high protein and a good amount of fat as well as vitamins. However, there are some studies that show that soy milk contains phytoestrogens, which can trigger an estrogenic effect in infants that may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer later in life. The research is inconclusive but it is worth noting. Take a look at the nutritional content:

  • Soy milk, 250 ml:
    • 110 calories
    • 4.5 grams of fat
    • 8 grams protein
    • 40% DV of calcium
    • 30% DV of Vitamin D
    • 50% DV of Vitamin B12

Goat Milk

goat
Goat milk

Many people use goat milk as an alternative to cow’s milk because it has a similar nutritional profile. For people who are trying to stay vegan, this is not an option and many babies with a milk allergy will have a similar reaction to goat milk. Otherwise, goat milk is a great alternative. The nutritional breakdown is as follows:

  • Goat milk, 250 ml:
    • 168 calories
    • 10 grams of fat
    • 9 grams of protein
    • 30% DV of calcium
    • 30% DV of Vitamin D
    • no Vitamin B12

Rice Milk

Although rice milk does exist, there is very little protein. The main problem with this kind of milk is that rice contains higher levels of organic arsenic. This is listed as a concern by the World Health Organization so you should avoid rice milk as a source of nutrition for your baby.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk has low fat and low protein so you will need to find other sources of nutrition if you choose to use it. It has some calcium and Vitamin D so its nutritional makeup is similar to almond milk. Take a look at the following:

  • Cashew milk, 250 ml:
    • 60 calories
    • 2.5 grams fat
    • less than one gram protein
    • 45% DV of calcium
    • 25% DV of Vitamin D
    • no Vitamin B12

Oat Milk

This is another milk from grains. The oats are soaked in water, blended, and strained. It is safe for people who are allergic to dairy and nuts. The important thing to note is that oat milk is healthy but it has fewer calories and protein so you need to make sure that you are meeting your baby’s dietary needs. Take a look at the following:

  • Oat milk, 250 ml:
    • 130 calories
    • 2.5 grams fat
    • 4 grams protein
    • 35% DV calcium
    • 25% DV Vitamin D
    • no Vitamin B12

Ripple Milk

Ripple milk is another plant-based milk and it comes from pea protein. It is low in sugar and it has high protein. It has more calcium than cow’s milk. You can use this as an alternative for your baby but you might need to supplement with some vitamins because it doesn’t contain Vitamin B12. Take a look at the following:

  • Ripple Milk, 250 ml:
    • 100 calories
    • 4.5 grams fat
    • 8 grams protein
    • 45% DV of calcium
    • 30% DV of Vitamin D
    • no Vitamin B12

Final Words

If you are looking for the best milk for babies, you have a lot of choices to go through. The best choice will depend on a number of factors, especially your reasons for looking for an alternative to cow’s milk. There are animal-based options, nut-based options, and plant-based options available. You can choose whichever type of milk is best for your family as long as you make sure that your baby is getting the nutrition that he or she needs to grow and develop.

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