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  • Is Soy-Based Milk Better Than Cow's Milk for Babies?

    Find out when it is good to give soy infant milk to your child
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Is Soy-Based Milk Better Than Cow's Milk for Babies?
PHOTO BY @Makidotvn/iStock
  • Breast milk is best for babies and is, in fact, most recommended by doctors. For some moms, however, breastfeeding comes with challenges that cannot be ignored which prevent them from nursing their babies, thus they turn to formula cow’s milk. Some babies, though, have an intolerance for it that parents turn to soy-based infant milk as an alternative (with the advice of their pediatricians, hopefully).

    Soy formula milk nutritional value

    Soy milk is derived from soy beans. The beans are ground, then soaked and boiled, then filtered until they produce a creamy liquid substance that resembles cow’s milk. It is not actually milk.

    Soy milk is a plant-based nutritional drink that is rich in protein, iron, vitamin D, E, and K, thiamine, riboflavin, and folate. It does not contain lactose, which makes it ideal for babies who are lactose intolerant, or who have an allergic reaction to cow’s milk. It is also low in fat and cholesterol.

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    Why babies are given soy formula milk

    Most babies thrive well on regular cow’s milk. However, some cases necessitate switching their milk to soy-based formula for any of the following reasons:

    Baby has galactosemia, an inherited condition where the body is unable to process a simple sugar called galactose. Its symptoms include irritability, poor feeding, poor weight gain, jaundice, vomiting, and convulsions.

    Baby has diarrhea as a result of ingesting cow’s milk, although it is usually not recommended to switch to soy milk for this. 

    When not to give baby soy formula milk

    - If a baby was born premature, because soy milk can decrease bone mineralization and increase the risk of osteopenia, or weak bones, which could lead to osteoporosis

    - If the baby has congenital hypothyroidism. While extremely rare, babies who are diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism should not consume soy infant formula because the proteins may interfere with the absorption of replacement hormones usually given a baby with this condition

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    - If a baby has an allergy to cow's milk protein, because chances are he will also be allergic to soy proteins

    Is soy formula beneficial to babies?

    Unless your baby is premature, soy formula milk is good for babies. However, compared to cow’s milk, it may be inferior in that it does not contain all the nutrients a baby needs to develop properly, i.e., vitamin A and B12, and the good fats necessary to support your baby’s growth. Thus, soy milk is recommended as a supplementary source of nutrition to infants rather than the primary. To find out what is best for your baby, check with your pediatrician.

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