Having grown up with a culture of drinking a glass of cow’s milk every day, many parents might find it strange to go for a milk alternative for their child. Medical reasons might make that necessary, but the worry of balanced nutrition is pretty real. Not every milk alternative can provide the same nutrition that a child can get from cow’s milk.
When to Give Milk Alternatives to Your Child?
Doctors usually suggest milk alternatives for toddlers with allergies towards lactose or few other elements that are present in the cow’s milk. Kids allergic to such elements will have trouble synthesising the nutrition present in the milk, and can even face various side effects.
Best Milk Alternatives for Toddlers
Opting for an alternative to the traditional milk presents before you a choice amongst numerous ones. Each alternative has some benefits to offer over traditional milk, but they are not a complete solution and might fall short in different ways.
1. Rice Milk
This type of milk is popular milk that is derived from the grains of rice.
For children that suffer from numerous allergies and even are susceptible to reactions for different types of milk, rice milk is the safest option in that regard. There are extremely rare chances of any child developing any allergy towards rice milk. Furthermore, the majorly neutral taste that it has allows it to be used in various preparation as well.
Parents wanting their child to consume milk as it is might have a tough time with rice milk since it doesn’t have any particular taste as such. At the same time, when compared with the same quantities of other milk alternatives, rice milk has a far larger amount of carbohydrates but quite a low amount of fat and proteins.
2. Coconut Milk
Quite a popular option around India, this milk is acquired from a coconut that has matured by grating it and pulping it properly.
Coconut milk is a great choice for kids that suffer from traditional milk allergies or even if they don’t have to. A simple glass of coconut milk can satisfy nearly half the daily requirement of Vitamin B12 and one-third of the daily Vitamin D necessity, thanks to the rich creaminess it brings due to the presence of saturated fats.
While coconut milk is rich in fats and other vitamins, the proportion of proteins and calcium in its constitution is not as much as it should be, when compared with the traditional milk. This can put kids at a risk of deficiency, which makes it necessary to complement the intake of coconut milk with other sources that provide the missing elements.
3. Almond Milk
The ease of preparation of almond milk is the greatest advantage it brings. With a texture that is creamy, this milk is available in markets in a variety of flavours and forms. This allows you to pick anyone that suits your child and provide him with a low-calorie nutritional alternative.
Since the only source of nutrition in this milk is from almonds, there is a huge gap when it comes to satisfying the daily requirement of proteins and even saturated fats. While many commercial milk brands fortify their products with these elements, it becomes essential to complement them via other sources in the child’s diet.
4. Soy Milk
One of the highest selling and popular alternatives to traditional milk, soybeans are soaked and ground together, which are then boiled and filtered to obtain the milk.
The popularity of this milk has made it the go-to choice for many people, and its ease of availability makes it easy to give it to your child at any point in time. The constitution of this milk is quite close to that of the traditional milk from the cow, which is why many families opt for using this milk in other preparation items as well.
Soy allergies are not unheard of, and if your child suffers from it as well, this milk would be a no-go. Also, many brands do fortify their soy milk products with calcium and vitamin D, but the amount of fortification may not be enough for your kid. Checking the value on the label should help you ascertain what’s right for your child.
5. Lactose-Free Milk
By introducing an enzyme in traditional milk that helps break down that protein, lactose-free milk is obtained easily.
There is barely any difference between the cow’s milk and the lactose-free equivalent of it. The nutritional constitution is identical, and the taste is usually a tad sweeter than the original.
Many commercial brands market their milk products as “lactose-free” but make use of plant-based sources or other elements for the actual milk. Furthermore, this milk is not useful for children that are allergic to other elements present in the milk, and not just lactose.
How to Decide Which Is the Best Milk Alternatives for Toddlers?
The right type of milk alternative for your little one depends on a bunch of factors, such as:
- The nutritional requirement based on his age
- The typical diet of the child
- Financial choice of opting for fortified milk
Choosing amongst different milk alternatives for babies should be governed by the very reason why you are opting for one. It is best to go with a choice that is as close as possible to the cow’s milk.
Also Read: How to Make your Child Drink Milk?