Almond milk is a very healthy and common milk alternative for adults these days. People switch to almond milk for many reasons, for example for dietary requirements such as lactose intolerance or dietary choices such as vegan or paleo diets.
Some people have concerns about health issues like hormones in cow’s milk and how they affect a person’s body. Therefore, it is natural for families already drinking almond milk to consider giving this as a milk substitute to their babies.
But is this a healthy choice for an infant? Is it okay to give to such young tummies? And are there any benefits in it that perhaps all moms should be considering for their little ones?
Below is what you need to know, and at the end, there are some tested recipes for your baby.
We hear an awful lot about almond milk in the media at the moment. And we are living in an age where we can access to more information than ever before.
We are caring a lot more about what we put in our bodies, and the effect producing it has on the environment, and we are making better food choices.
Studies tell us that almonds are superfood. They are high in protein, Vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, manganese, calcium, iron and zinc among others. Also, they have shown that almond milk may lower cholesterol and help to reduce heart disease.
It is often selected by people who are counting calories because it gives a rich creamy touch to things while being low in calories and having no saturated fats.
So all of that sounds fantastic right? It must be good for babies then.
Medical and pediatric experts recommend that other milk should not be introduced into a baby’s diet until they are twelve months old. For the first six months of their lives, babies need the nutrients provided by a diet entirely consisting of breast milk or formula.
Other foods are added from six months, generally in a fairly careful order to make sure baby’s tummy can cope with the adjustments.
Between six and twelve months, these solid foods are supplemented with the nutrients from breastmilk or formula, which will make up around half of the baby’s diet. After twelve months, milk can be added, which can include whole milk, soy milk, rice milk or almond milk.
Breast milk and formula can be stopped altogether at this time. It is recommended that children of this age have 2-3 serves of dairy a day, to give the necessary nutrients for their growing little bodies. The main benefits of cow’s milk are:
It is important to remember that milk is only a small part of the diet now. Babies at this age should not exceed much more than the 2-3 daily serves recommended, as they will be too high in fat and too low in iron.
Also if you are still breastfeeding or feed him with breast milk at this time, your baby doesn’t need any other milk at all on top of that.
Not at all before twelve months as you should either breastfeed or give them formula. If you don’t want to give your baby usual formula for dietary choice reasons, there are several brands of soy formula you can use instead.
Or if your child is showing an intolerance or allergy to it; there are many different types of formulas that are made to be lactose-free. However, they still contain cow’s milk, and it is just broken down a lot more to be gentler on sensitive bellies.
After twelve months of age, you can give a baby some almond milk instead of cow’s milk, but it does not offer any nutritional benefit to give a child almond milk over cow’s milk. You would generally only do so for dietary reasons.
If you decide to give your baby almond milk, it is best if you make sure of the following:
The best way to introduce anything is a little bit at a time. After twelve months, peanuts can also be added, as the tummy is getting more robust at this stage.
Not long after this time, your baby will begin eating things off the floor, so he will be doing his own new food introducing by then.
You can introduce almond milk by making it only a small portion of the meal or snack you are giving your baby. For instance, you can make porridge with almond milk, or smoothies, or pancakes or muffins. You could add it to homemade tomato soup or a creamy pasta sauce.
Another good idea is to cook cauliflower in almond milk until it is soft, and then puree it. Below, we have some more detailed ideas for you to follow.
If your baby is still too little, you’re going to have to keep your delicious almond milk smoothie to yourself for another few months.
Almond milk doesn’t offer any nutritional benefit over cow’s milk, but it is an acceptable substitute if you need to make the switch for dietary needs or choices.
And for those families who need to make this switch, for children over twelve months almond milk is fine, and can be introduced into their diet in many fun and delicious ways.
Amy Duncan is the founder of KindMommy, a blog where she's providing helpful information about pregnancy and many useful tips for young parents. Besides writing, Amy loves to cook and travel with her friends and family. You can also find Amy on Twitter (@AmyKindmommy).