Milk Alternatives for Children

I always thought that soya milk was the only alternative for young children with allergies and until a couple of years ago I didn’t even realise that many children were actually allergic to soya (and that this is common in children with cow milk protein allergy (CMPA)).

At 6 months old Anya was diagnosed with CMPA and we were prescribed Nutramigen 1 for a month or so and then on to Nutramigen 2.  This is a baby formula with partly hydrolysed milk proteins, hydrolysed meaning the proteins in the milk are broken down to their basic components and are then less allergenic.  Anya took to the milk well, but as other Nutramigen parents will know, it is ridiculously smelly stuff, so when we saw the dietician I asked if I could use something else to cook with, and she recommended Alpro Soya Junior at the time as it was higher in calories and fortified with vitamins, calcium and iron to be a good substitute for cows milk.

That was more than 3 years ago, there are a lot more alternatives available now.  This year I found that lots of parents use all sorts of different milk for feeding their children, all with different and valid reasons for doing so and I wondered, which one is really best?

The milk I compared were; Full fat cows milk, Alpro Soya Junior, Organic Rice Dream Original, Oat Dream, Kara Dairy Free Coconut Milk and Almond Breeze Original Milk (see bottom for comparison table).

Cows milk is reasonably high in protein and fat, which is essential in young children for proper brain development, soya milk is fairly high in protein and fat, the rice milk and almond milk were the lowest in fat; rice and coconut lowest in protein.  Cows milk and Soya milk were the most comparable for calories.  Almond milk and coconut milk were the least calorific.  A reasonably high calorie intake for young children is needed for them to grow and develop properly.  This is even harder when your child has dietary limitations, so getting the calories in their milk can be important.

There is no fibre in cows milk, but higher levels in oat milk.  Children aged 1-3 only need about 8g a day of fibre in their diet (see references below).

Cows milk is high in natural sugars; rice milk and oat milk are also high in sugars, but in the case of rice milk these are added as part of the processing.  Aside from almond and coconut milk the other alternatives were all high in carbohydrates, of which a growing child needs plenty.

Finally, the soya was fortified with vitamins, iron and calcium, all needed for a growing child.  The coconut and oat milk also contained high calcium levels.

Although soya is a good alternative, it is the most likely to be allergenic (rice milk supposedly the least), others have strange tastes or after tastes and some are better to cook with than others.  Essentially they can all be good as part of a balanced diet, and any deficiencies in vitamins, calories, protein etc. can be made up in the solid part of the diet. So the choice is entirely up to you.

Other common concerns are soya and it’s effects on your child’s reproductive health which I have previously covered and arsenic levels in rice milk, which can be read about here on the Food Standards Agency website which recommends rice milk not to be consumed in large quantities by children under the age of 4 and a half.

If you are concerned about your child’s diet you should contact your GP, dietician or health professional in the first instance.

Values per 100ml
Full Fat Cows Milk
Soya Milk
Rice Milk
Coconut Milk
Almond Milk
Oat Milk
Recommended daily intake for children aged 1-3
Calories
64kcal
62kcal
47kcal
28kcal
24kcal
50.5kcal
1230kcal
Fat
3.7g
2.3g
1.0g
1.9g
1.1g
1.3g
48g
Saturated Fat
2.4g
0.4g
0.1g
1.7g
<0.1g
0.2g
15g
Sodium
trace
0.01g
0.05g
0.04g
0.05g
0.04g
0.5g
Fibre
0g
0.4g
0.1g
0.5g
0.3g
1.0g
8g
Sugars
4.7g
 2.9g
 4g
 2.1g
 2.8g
4.5g
34g
Carbohydrates
4.7g
7.7g
9.4g
2.4g
2.9g
8.6g
154g
Protein
3.3g
2.6g
0.1g
0.3g
0.5g
0.6g
15g
Vitamin C
7.8mg
30mg
Iron
1.1mg
7mg
Calcium
122mg
100mg
120mg
120mg
350mg

References

  1. http://www.realfooduniversity.com/nutrition-milk-milk-substitutes/
  2. http://www.tesco.com
  3. http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/nutguideuk.pdf
  4. http://www.gdalabel.org.uk/gda/gda_values.aspx#item2
  5. https://www.infantandtoddlerforum.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=7e3f2ed8-edd3-4e05-88ec-f9df3064ef28&groupId=11803
  6. http://www.kch.nhs.uk/Doc/pl%20-%20391.2%20-%20calcium%20zone.pdf
  7. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlPYfErVEUR1dDRkLVd5NDVIZlYtTmZKTWhNTXFXNkE#gid=0
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5 Responses to Milk Alternatives for Children

  1. Pingback: Milk Alternatives – Hemp Milk | Itch, swell, ooze and wheeze

  2. This is very informative. I have allergies to dairy and soy, but am okay with goat and sheep milk. I much prefer almond milk and yogurt though.

  3. Pingback: Milk Alternatives – Camel Milk | Itch, swell, ooze and wheeze

  4. Pingback: It’s been a whole year… | Itch, swell, ooze and wheeze

  5. Pingback: Which Dairy Free Milk Is Best? | Dairy Free Baby and Me

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