Can babies and kids drink almond milk?

Almond milk is a popular alternative to adult cow’s milk, but it has different nutritional needs in developing babies.

Some physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children younger than 1 year old consume breast milk or, if breast milk is not available, formula for children based on dairy or soy, unless otherwise indicated.

Experts advise only to introduce other milk after a baby’s first birthday, such as cow’s milk or almond milk, since the specific nutrient profile in breast milk and formula milk is essential for development.

Most infants may be given almond milk safely but is not a substitute for breast milk or infant formula.

For certain cases, almond milk can be a good alternative for cow’s milk but there are some dietary variations to be mindful of when making the move.

Can babies drink almond milk?

Almond milk in a glass cup
Almond milk is popular with people avoiding dairy.

Some people may offer almond milk to lactose-intolerant children or if they avoid milk for other reasons.

Toddlers may drink almond milk once or twice a day during breast-feeding periods or eating their other foods, but only when they are more than 12 months old.

Almond milk is made of water and finely ground almonds. Other ingredients, such as coffee, may include thickeners, sweeteners and flavorings. Often, many suppliers incorporate nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium.

Almond milk can be a healthy complement to a baby’s diet, but no milk can compete with the nutrients that breast milk or infant formula offer.

Almond milk should not be used to substitute breast milk or formula, because babies in development require the different vitamins and nutrients that these milk types provide.

When someone has any questions about a child being lactose intolerant, speak to the doctor of the child. For older children and adults lactose intolerance is more common than in babies and infants.

When you are using almond milk to supplement an infant’s diet, make sure:

  • the milk is low in sugar or unsweetened
  • the milk is fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D
  • the baby consumes other forms of fat and protein

Ask a pediatrician for additional ingredients, including flavours or thickeners.

Finding out whether the infant has an allergy to the nut is also important. If the baby’s relatives have allergies to the nut, it is better to avoid nuts entirely and ask a pediatrician before incorporating some kind of nut milk into the baby’s diet.

How does almond milk compare to cow’s milk?

A man choosing milk products
Different types of milk vary in their nutritional content.

The cow’s milk and almond milk differ greatly in nutritional terms. Some doctors suggest that whole cow’s milk be used for weaning babies from 1 to 2 years of age as it has a high fat content.

A single cup of whole milk contains around 8 grams (g) of fat which needs to grow in the brain of the developing baby. In comparison, unsweetened almond milk only contains 2.5 g of fat.

Cow’s milk is also higher in protein as compared to almond milk, according to the same report: 1 cup of whole milk contains almost 8 grams of protein, while 1 cup of fortified almond milk contains just 1 gram of protein.

However, when these fats and proteins are replaced in the baby’s diet somewhere else, almond milk can be a good replacement for whole milk in infants.

Together with unsweetened almond milk, cow’s milk is often higher in naturally occurring sugars. People should be cautious and look for unsweetened almond milk, because sweetened or flavored products can contain more sugar than cow’s milk.

The other factor is the variations between the two Milk types in nutrients and essential minerals. A cup of vitamin-fortified cow’s milk contains:

  • 276 milligrams (mg) calcium
  • 322 mg potassium
  • 205 mg phosphorus
  • 105 mg sodium
  • 395 units (IU) vitamin A
  • 124 IU vitamin D

The same amount of unsweetened almond milk may contain:

Once a baby is 1 year old, any kind of milk should only complement its diet, and it should not substitute other whole foods.

In babies under 1 year, neither almond milk nor standard cow’s milk are suitable substitutes in breast milk or formula milk. When the child is breast-feeding at any age, no other milk is required.

Much as some babies may be allergic to nuts or almonds, some babies may be allergic to cow’s milk, as well. When any members of the baby’s immediate family are lactose-intolerant, decide what to give them to drink with the child’s doctor.

Other non-dairy milk for infants

If almond milk doesn’t sound like the right choice, people seeking dairy-free alternatives to offer their rising kid might prefer other plant-based milk, such as:

  • coconut milk
  • rice milk
  • hemp milk
  • soy milk
  • oat milk
  • hazelnut milk

Often test to ensure they are fortified with vitamins and minerals and are low in sugar before buying plant-based milk.

Risks and considerations

A father bottom feeding his son
1-year olds should not fill up on liquids too often.

Fortified with vitamins and minerals, almond milk can be a nutritious supplement to a diet for a infant. Added ingredients, including thickeners and sweeteners, are not ideal for a infant, however.

Almond milk is low in both fat and protein content and an child who drinks almond milk would need to consume plenty of fat and protein from other sources in their diet.

Before adding almond milk to the diet, babies can have an allergic reaction to nut milk so always speak to a doctor.

Babies will have no more than 16 to 24 ounces of any milk (except breast milk) a day until they are 1 year old. It is important that infants over the age of 1 consume most of their food nutrition and do not fill with liquids that do not give them sufficient nutrition.

Summary

For developing early children, adding one or two servings of fortified almond milk a day to a well-rounded diet is a natural alternative to cow’s milk.

Don’t send babies cow’s milk, almond milk, or kinds of milk before their first birthday. Babies younger than this will only have formula for breast milk or for babies.

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