Raising a toddler is a tough task, whether it is worrying about feeding them or taking care of their teething needs. This task only becomes tougher, if you decide to raise a vegan baby, as it becomes extremely difficult to then meet your toddlers nutritional intake.
The good part is that, for the first few years, mothers’ milk is a sufficient alternative that is vegan. However, breastfeeding may not always be a viable option and that’s when one must consider milk alternatives for toddlers in case they choose to be vegan.
To help with this, we have assessed the best milk alternatives for toddlers that you can definitely try, to help your toddler attain the nutrition it desperately needs. At the end of the day, every parent wants to ensure that their child gets all the nutrition they need, and we’re here to understand if that can be done, the vegan way.
Best Milk Alternatives for Toddler
1. Soy Milk
Made from soy beans, soy milk is an alternative to cow’s milk for babies, that is more or less similar to milk in terms of the nutritional composition.
Good soy milk contains Vitamin D, Calcium, and Vitamin B12 – ensuring that your baby gets the necessary nutrients for growth and development.
However, while picking specific soy milk, ensure that the type you pick is a fortified and organic version. To ensure that your child is protected from genetically modified ingredients as well as an unsweetened and fat-free one, to avoid unnecessary sugar and fat.
2. Almond Milk
Almond Milk is a low-calorie alternative for cow’s milk for babies, that is a viable option for vegans to opt for. It tastes great and is a delicious alternative to milk that can be used in cooking.
Its taste is definitely a plus with toddlers, and its vegan nature is a plus for you as a vegan parent. However, the downside is that its protein content is slightly low- and hence, it shouldn’t ideally be used as a supplementation for cow’s milk.
Nevertheless, for an occasional boost in calcium, almond milk is definitely the way to go.
3. Pea Milk
Pea milk is another alternative for those avoiding milk completely. Pea milk is rich in natural protein, which is difficult to find as a vegan and hence is a major plus in a toddler’s diet. It also contains potassium, iron, and calcium- which is great for a plant-based alternative and is also creamy and delicious.
However, it does lack in terms of calories, and so you will need to ensure that your toddler gets their calorie requirements elsewhere.
4. Oat Milk
Another milk alternative that is popular today is oat milk. The fortified and full-fat oat milk versions are rich in nutrients such as protein, iodine, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.
The best part is that oat milk is extremely rich in protein, and at the same time also provides the natural health benefits of oats. It’s packed with fiber and
For those looking to nix soy from their child’s diet, oat helps stimulate a healthy digestive system. Always ensure that you purchase an unsweetened variety as well as opt for a flavorless option, especially if you’re opting for daily consumption.
5. Coconut Milk
Coconut Milk is a tasty alternative to milk that has a thick consistency and smooth texture. Fattier than the other alternatives mentioned above, coconut milk is low in terms of calories as well as low in protein.
The fortified versions add some much-needed nutrients, but it continues to be low even in terms of zinc and iron.
Though not a great alternative to substitute milk with on a daily basis, coconut milk is great once in a while to switch things up while being vegan.
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Are Vegan Milk Alternatives Comparable to Dairy?
Vegan Milk Alternatives while great in taste and texture, usually lack important nutrients. While you can obtain a good amount of nutritional value from them, none of them can offer a complete replacement for cow’s milk, especially for toddlers. They are incapable of providing the complete nutrition, cows milk provides and each comes with their individual challenges that need to be looked after in your baby’s diet.
Soy milk, oat milk, and almond milk- while great milk alternatives for babies, to switch things up once in a while, they cannot be used to provide the nutritionally packed result whole milk would provide. These milk alternatives for toddlers do not contain the required calcium or Vitamin D that cow’s milk ideally delivers and so if one opts for these alternatives, one needs to find other dietary ingredients to supplement the nutritional needs.
Milk Alternatives vs Vegan Baby Formulas
Finding a good alternative to cow’s milk for babies especially during the months post the breastfeeding period is difficult.
The type of plant-based milk you choose becomes crucial so that you can ensure that your child gets the nutritional requirements he or she needs. Always watch out to check whether the milk is fortified or natural, as well as look out for nutrients such as iron, protein, calcium, zinc, and Vitamin B12- to keep your little one growing and developing.
If you decide to opt for plant-based baby formula, there are few alternatives out there for vegans that provide a good amount of nutrients. For up to six months, there is no recommended vegan baby formula, since breast milk is the ideal option.
However, if that is not a route, it is best to switch to cow’s milk, to avoid your child from being deficient or underweight. Post the first six months, one can opt for a vegan baby formula that contains Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Protein, Sinc, Omega-3, and Iron!
Verdict | Are Milk Alternatives Suitable for Toddlers?
To sum it up, the best source for a vegan toddler is definitely breast milk, and nothing can substitute. Especially for the first six months, it is almost impossible to find a moon alternative that can provide a child with the nutrients a mother’s milk does- while staying vegan.
Moreover, even though soy, almond, and coconut milk alternatives are available in the market- they are usually not recommended for children under the age of six, because the need for nutrients is so high that it becomes difficult to cope in their absence. Therefore, unfortunately, you may need to breastfeed your child or provide your child with cow’s milk, until your baby is at an age, where he or she is nutritionally secured.