Knowing what to feed your growing baby can be a challenge while you’re traveling, especially if you’re a first-time mother. While breast milk is the most obvious choice in the early days, for some women this isn’t a long-term option. If you’re wondering whether you should use soy or cow’s milk instead — either because you’re suddenly no longer able to breast feed or because your baby has developed an allergy — the guide below can help.
Is Soy Milk Safe?
Soy milk has been used to safely feed babies for a very long time. However, if you’re suddenly weighing up the options between dairy or soy while traveling, it’s always good to be aware of the potential benefits and drawbacks. To help you make your decision, it’s useful to understand how soy differs from dairy and what the potential benefits are.
Cow’s Milk vs. Soy Milk
There are several arguments for and against both cow’s milk and soy milk. While cow’s milk has been used for centuries, many parents have avoided its use modern times due to factory processes that cause exposure to dangerous pathogens. Cow’s milk is also sometimes linked to allergies in babies, and some argue that it increases colic.
However, from a nutritional standpoint, cow’s milk (especially whole) has a decent fat profile, providing up to 8g per serving. Fat is essential for babies’ growth and development, which is why cow’s milk is a good choice for some.
Potential Benefits of Soy
- Minimizes Allergies: for babies with lactose intolerance or for those who suffer from colic, soy milk can provide a beneficial alternative.
- Healthier: some argue that soy milk is healthier, especially since a typical soy based formula is fortified with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. Soy also provides plant-based nutrition that is said to lower the risk of certain diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Vegan/Vegetarian-friendly: soy milk is also a great alternative for vegetarian or vegan families.
Potential Downsides of Soy
- Less fat content: soy milk contains less fat than regular cow’s milk, coming in at around 4g per serving. In this case, some experts recommend that parents avoid low-fat soy so that the baby gets as much fat as possible.
- Exposure to aluminum and isoflavones: there are some concerns over the higher amounts of aluminum and isoflavones contained in soy milk. Isoflavones mimic estrogen, which has sparked concern whether too much of this compound is harmful to a baby’s health.
- Access can be difficult: if you’re traveling, soy milk might not always be the best option. While soy is readily available in most urban centers, it may be difficult to find in remote or rural places in other countries.
What to Consider While Traveling
The decision to switch your baby’s formula at the last minute can be stressful, but it doesn’t need to be. When it comes to travel, bear in mind that pre-bought milk is obviously heavier, so you’ll need to consider the weight. You might also need to consider ease of access to soy milk and whether you can carry a lot around with you.
The decision to use cow’s milk or soy milk is ultimately up to each parent. There are benefits and drawbacks to both, so it’s best to assess what works for your baby. If you’re on the road and are forced to make this decision on the fly, it might be advisable to experiment with both types to see what your baby prefers. The good news is that there are so many alternatives on the market today, which means your baby doesn’t have to go without.