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Soymilk Supplement for Breastfed Toddler
By Jennifer J. Francis, MPH, RD/LD

Jennifer FrancisQ. My son is 14 months old. He is still breastfeeding and probably will be for some time. He does have the occasional bottle - probably a few times a week. Right now he is getting a soy-based transitional formula (for older babies on solid food). I'm concerned that formula isn't the best thing for him but am not sure what else to do in his bottle. I don't really want to give him milk - my whole family has a history of milk allergies. I know that soy milk isn't a substitute for infant formula, but I'm wondering if it would be okay in this case. My thought was to use the full-fat and enriched variety, as I am concerned about good fats and calcium in his diet. I have also heard that too much soy can be bad for little boys as it has estrogen-like compounds. I'd love any advice you may have on this and your thoughts on the soy versus milk issue.

A. When you say that you don't think milk is good for babies, I assume you are referring to cow's milk, which is not good for babies under the age of 12 months. You are right in guessing that soymilk should not be given to babies younger than this either; it does not contain all the nutrients that infants need.

However, since your son is older than 12 months, fortified soymilk is safe for him to drink. Please bear in mind that although soy milk is fortified, it is not the nutritional equivalent of milk, which provides other nutrients besides just calcium. Right now while you are breastfeeding, you are giving him perfect nutrition, but once you wean, if he can consume yogurt and cheese, that will help make sure he gets the important nutrients that dairy can provide.

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