Milk Alternatives for Toddlers: What should you feed your baby?

What is the best milk alternative for toddlers? Well, this is a common concern among the moms having difficulty with breastfeeding and those planning to start weaning their babies. We all know that breast milk is simply the best because it is totally natural. Breast milk contains all kinds of proteins, healthy fats, lauric acid, capric acid, and immunoglobulins that are important for the proper growth of a baby. This is why I believe that your baby should be fed breast milk for their first year as a compulsory and you can continue till your baby reaches their 2 years of age. But in this article let me shed some light on milk alternatives for toddlers that you can think of.

Formula Milk

Many parents want to know what formula they need to choose over breast milk. Pediatricians usually recommend breast milk and breastfeeding, although that’s not the right answer for every single mom out there. The main concern is that if your baby is happy, you are happy and I will never force a mother to breastfeed her child who does not want to be breastfed.

We all know that breast milk offers fantastic protection for the baby’s immune system. The immunoglobulins that get transferred from the mother to the baby stay with the baby for the rest of their life. The gut is colonized initially and the baby is much less likely to get infected from such diseases as diarrhea, ear infection, and asthma, and your baby will be protected against a lot of other common illnesses that are very common in children.

That being said, not all mothers feel that breastfeeding is right for them. You also do not have to exclusively breastfeed your child if you are not comfortable with it. There is nothing to worry about because some moms breastfeed during the day and feed their babies formula at night, while some moms alternate between breast milk and formula milk, while some moms don’t breastfeed their children at all. The formula that is available on the market today provides babies with all the vitamins and nutrients they need when compared to breast milk. But you do have to consult with your doctor which formula would be right for your baby.

Tips: Cow and goat milk formula are two good milk alternatives for toddlers. But if your baby is not tolerating the milk or they have severe rashes or bloody diarrhea let the doctor know so they can help you choose a different formula. Babies who are exclusively breastfed at two weeks of age should be given vitamin D drops, 400 units a day. However, those babies who are on formula do not need to take vitamins because all of the vitamins are supplemented in the formula. You may consider a homemade formula as well but make sure you’re adding all the necessary ingredients, including whey protein, vitamin D, probiotics, and other immune factors.

Donor Breast Milk

If you have adopted a child or have some sort of other complications in feeding breast milk, you may want to look at a donor breast milk. But make sure you find out as much as possible about the donor because just the way you don’t want to trust the label on your organic dairy, you don’t want to get unsafe donor milk for your baby. Find out about the mother’s diet who is donating her breast milk as she might have an issue with consuming cow’s milk. In fact, there are many who have difficulty with consuming cow’s milk because of hypersensitivities and lactose intolerance.

When a breastfeeding mother is consuming cow’s milk and if she has such difficulties or has a problem in consuming casein or whey types of protein, this can definitely affect the baby because the baby will be vulnerable to all kinds of skin, digestive, and sleeping issues depending on what she is consuming.

Tips: Remember babies can consume breast milk for their first two years of life and often beyond the first couple years of life. Breast milk is designed to be digestible and helps develop a strong immune system. The mothers who wean their children from breastfeeding too early regret later because it does have an impact on your child’s immune system. So, make sure your baby is getting human breast milk as long as possible and when necessary consider some of the other alternatives.

Cow’s Milk

As a parent, you might be wondering why can’t you just visit a grocery store and choose a gallon of cow’s milk for your baby, since it is convenient and cheaper than the formula. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics tells that cow’s milk is not appropriate for your child before one year of age due to some clear medical concerns.

Cow’s milk does not cover all the nutritional needs of your baby. In fact, it is too low in essential fatty acids and iron. It also contains high protein, sodium, and potassium, which might be harmful to your baby’s kidneys. Moreover, cow’s milk does not digest properly in the GI tract of your baby, which may cause bleeding in stomach and intestines and lead to bloody stools. It might also cause anemia and if not treated, it can cause developmental and other medical complications later on their lives.

Give your baby cow’s milk when they complete their first birthday and do make sure the quantity shouldn’t be more than 24 to 32 ounces per day. Feeding more than this will be excess for your baby and won’t consider other important nutrition from other foods. It may also lead to obesity if the baby starts to consume too many calories later in their life.

Tips: I’m personally not a big fan of the conventional cow’s milk as toddler milk and there are other better options. You should at least look at something that’s organic or if you have access to the raw milk. You may also consider the milk that has beta a2 casein protein as opposed to beta a1 casein, which is a healthier form of dairy. Also, make sure the donor and you are consuming such types of milk while feeding your child. Visit your child’s pediatrician regularly so that they can keep track of your child’s growth.

Goat’s Milk

The truth is that goat’s milk is much more digestible than the regular cow’s milk and it’s more nutritious. It also differs from cow’s milk in color, taste, and smell. But is goat milk healthy? The calorific value of goat’s milk is almost identical to that of the cow’s. Goat milk for toddlers is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals because one liter of goat milk contains the daily requirement of vitamins for an adult human body, whereas protein from goat’s milk is similar to the protein in cow’s milk.

Tips: Is goat milk good for babies? When we are talking about goats milk for babies dangers are always there that we have to be careful about. Goat milk contains a higher amount of potassium and chloride with a lower amount of sodium. It also contains a smaller amount of vitamin D and iron-folate. Due to the deficiency in folate and vitamin B12, megaloblastic anemia may occur in infants who drink only goat milk. Goat milk should be boiled immediately after milking to avoid the danger of brucellosis. Goats milk contains more essential fatty acids than cow’s milk and these fatty acids are composed of smaller particles that makes it easier to digest, unlike cow’s milk. Get goats milk formula for babies from a renowned manufacturer or prepare yourself at home which would also be a much healthier choice.

Solid Foods

Getting off to a good start whether you’re using formula or breast milk, the question comes when do you actually start feeding your baby solid foods? Or how much should your baby eat? The simple answer is that your baby should eat enough to gain healthy weight. You can keep tracks of the weight development of your baby to ensure how much your baby needs to eat.

If your baby is on a formula, you need to find out how much formula will be required depending on your baby’s weight. For instance, if your baby weighs 8 pounds divide that by 2 that’s for 4 ounces of formula that need to be fed every 3 to 4 hours. In the same way, if they weigh 12 pounds divided by 2 that’s 6 ounces of formula.

But if you’re breastfeeding, supply and demand goes hand in hand, which is the beauty of nature. The more you nurse the more milk you will produce. Occasionally if you find it challenging to increase the supply of your breast milk, make sure you eat enough, drink enough, rest enough, and have enough stimulation by direct nursing or possibly pumping.

Based on some great research in the last couple of years, it was found that the earlier you introduce solid foods to your baby, the better their immune system will be and there will be a minimized risk of getting affected by allergies. So, you can start solid foods from around four months. If you want to breastfeed exclusively until your baby is six months’ old you can do that but there’s absolutely no harm in adding solids.

Tips: Here’s what you need to keep in mind- avoid rice cereal because unfortunately most of the rice paddy is grown in soil that is high in arsenic and it might be present in the food. Go for real food like organic fruits and vegetables to avoid GMO genetically modified foods and pesticides that are high in such content. As our foods are mass-produced they lack nutrients and using pesticides is also common unless you go organic.

Why Plant-Based Milk for Toddlers Is Not Recommended?

You will find different kinds of plant-based milk on the market, making you think that those milk products are really healthy. But those may not be suitable for toddlers and especially for infants. If you are thinking to alternate goat, cow or breast milk with plant-based milk like rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk, hemp milk, or even coconut milk, be aware of the fact coconut milk actually has a ton of lauric acid and it does mimic the healthy fat composition of human breast milk in many ways, for instance. But the problem is that it misses out on a lot of other vitamins and proteins.

If you are considering these milk products your child may be deficient in vitamin B12, B2, vitamin D, and vitamin A and most importantly DHA and EPA which are omega-3 essential fatty acids. However, there are over a hundred and sixty different fatty acids loaded with DHA and EPA in breast milk. These healthy fatty acids are important for the development of the brain, the central nervous system, and the endocrine system. They also help prevent learning disabilities and support the immune system of your growing infant. If you are avoiding these healthy fats you’re actually retarding the growth of your baby, it may affect the cognitive function and even the retina of the eye (vision).

So, you should be considering such milk as good transition milk when your baby is weaning from the breast and you are starting to introduce more solid foods. But this definitely is not a perfect replacement.

To conclude, every family has to figure out what is right for them. The society often pressures parents to do things that they might not feel comfortable about, and that’s when you need to talk to your doctor. Some moms want to only breastfeed their children and don’t want to pump while there are also some moms that want to feed their children formula but don’t want to breastfeed. Whatever seems right to you is what you have to choose for your baby because your baby will not thrive if you are not happy.

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