Beware of Rice Milk and Soy Milk for Infants and Toddlers

by Margaret Meade - Date: 2006-12-04 - Word Count: 584 Share This!

Rice milk and soy milk sound healthy and good for you but are you aware that these beverages are not really good for the health of babies and toddlers? Rice milk and soy milk should never be confused with or used as a replacement for weaning to whole cow milk nor should they be used as a replacement for breast milk or fortified infant formulas. This article will explore why parents should not use these alternative beverages for weaning.

Whole cow milk contains a variety of nutrients that are among those crucial to building good health in babies and toddlers. Many of these nutrients are not naturally occurring in "alternative beverages" and while those beverages may be fortified, naturally occurring nutrients are best. It is most important to distinguish the difference between a soy formula and soy milk; soy formula is formulated with the nutrients an infant requires whereas soy milk is not. You should never switch your infant from a soy based formula to plain soy milk!

Whole cow milk contains natural calcium that is more easily absorbed and bio-available than calcium from other sources. It contains the "good" fats that are crucial to both infant and toddler development; a reason why pediatricians recommend whole milk for a minimum of the first 2-3 years of age. Whole cow milk is also a great source of protein, another nutrient that is crucial in healthy development. Vitamin A and B12, along with some other B Vitamins, are also found in whole milk and these Vitamins are essential in proper growth.

Rice Milk in particular is low in fat which is not recommended for those under 2 years of age and it is also low in (if not completely devoid of) protein. Soy milk also contains a lower level of fats.

"Low-fat soy milk and rice milk contain low levels of fat and protein. If these products are used parents must be sure children are getting adequate fat and protein from other dietary sources. Infants get adequate fat and protein from breastmilk or infant formula. Full-fat soy milk is generally recommended for young children. Breastfeeding a child during the second year of life helps assure adequate fat and protein intake as well."¹

Soy milk does not contain a good level natural calcium nor does it contain the level of fat and protein that whole cow milk does. Soy milk may also hinder the absorption of calcium even though it may be calcium fortified due to the phylates that it contains! If you find that your older infant or toddler may have an allergy to dairy - either a milk protein allergy or a sensitivity to lactose, or that you simply wish to exclude dairy products from your diet, using these "alternative" beverages as substitutes are good options. While these beverages may be good options, you should discuss a nutritional plan with your baby or toddler's pediatrician. You must ensure that your growing child receives calcium, fats, proteins and vitamins and minerals from other natural sources!

Offering your toddler these "milks" as an occasional drink should not pose any adverse health risks as long as you realise that these drinks are not enough to provide optimal nutrition. You should consult your pediatrician and/or a pediatric dietician to discuss ways to ensure that your infant or toddler receives the nutrients crucial to his or her healthy development.

Resources and Learning More:

Milk and Milk Alternatives for Toddlers Severe Nutritional Deficiencies in Toddlers Resulting From Health Food Milk Alternatives Vegan Children¹Vegetarian NutritionSoy Milk (not soy formula!) & Infant Death

Related Tags: nutrition, toddler, baby, rice milk, soy milk, soy, infant, healthy drinks, health beverages

Margaret Meade is the Editor of and is the mother of 3 boys. The boys were raised on all Homemade Baby Food; and since Mommy had been studying nutrition for many years, she knew homemade was best! She sincerely hopes that babies and parents everywhere might benefit from the great experience of making Fresh, Wholesome, Homemade baby food! Visit and find out how easy it is to make your own baby food. Once you begin, good healthy eating habits will automatically flow!

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