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.
What Is Good About Almond Milk?
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.
When Can Babies Start Having Milk?
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:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
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.
Can Babies Have Almond Milk?
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 almond milk contains Vitamins A and D.
- Choose a brand which is low in sugar or other sweeteners.
- It is fortified to have increased calcium.
- Your baby will not be getting any protein from almond milk, so you need to ensure that he is getting it from other sources such as meats, chicken, fish, eggs, soy, grains, mushrooms and legumes.
How Can You Introduce Almond Milk?
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.
Recipes with Almond Milk for Your Baby!
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
Step 1: Sift flour, make a well in the center and mix in the egg and milk until well combined.
Step 2: Fold in the blueberries, heat a non-stick pan and spray with cooking oil, then place a ladle of the batter in the pan.
Step 3: Cook for about 4 minutes, or until large bubbles have appeared in the middle of the pancake, flip over and cook briefly on the other side, for about a minute.
Step 4: Remove pancake, repeat the process until all the batter is used.
Bear in mind this makes larger pancakes; you could do tablespoons of batter into the pan instead which will make smaller pancakes more suitable for little hands.
Chocolate Avocado Muffins
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 medium avocado
- 2/3 cup maple syrup
- ¾ cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chocolate chips
Step 1: Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
Step 2: Mix all wet ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Step 3: Make a well in the middle of the dry and add the wet, stir until just combined, then add the chocolate chips and fold through.
Step 4: Place scoops into muffin tray, bake for 20 minutes at 320 degrees. Allow cooling slightly before eating.
- 3 cups thinly sliced potato, sweet potato and carrot
- 3 tablespoons dairy-free spread
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup almond milk
- ½ cup soy cheese grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Heat small saucepan over medium heat, melt spread, then add flour and stir to combine.
Step 2: Add almond milk slowly, whisking the whole time. You should end up with a thick creamy sauce, remove from the stove
Step 3: In a small casserole, dish layer the vegetables and alternate these layers with toppings of the milk sauce, finish with grated cheese and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Step 4: Bake uncovered for about an hour at 350 degrees, or until the potatoes are soft and tender. You can also make this dish in individual ramekins.
Rice Pudding and Fruit
- 1½ cups sushi rice
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 7 cups almond milk
- Stewed or mashed fruit to serve
- Pinch of salt
Step 1: Combine in a heavy based saucepan rice, sugar, and salt, and 1 cup almond milk.
Step 2: Heat slowly, stirring constantly until the rice has absorbed the milk.
Step 3: Add another cup of milk and continue this process until all of the milk is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
Step 4: Serve topped with fruit such as banana, apples, mango, peaches or blueberries.
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.
Remember, you should not give babies almond milk at all before twelve months, and only give it to them after as a cow’s milk substitute as long as you ensure they get the full range of nutrients they need.
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.