Hot on the heels of my post on the dangers of cow’s milk, I wanted to share what I’ve learned about milk for a vegan 12-mth old. Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics supporting the introduction of whole cow’s milk after your child turns one, I think it’s pretty clear from the research that dairy is a poor choice for a developing child. I searched the internet for an answer and came up short. People advised against almond milk due to nut allergies. They advised against rice milk for its lack of calories. Soy milk alone is highly controversial due to varying study findings. So what’s a mom to do? I finally found the answer I’d been looking for in Disease-Proof Your Child by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the guy who also wrote Eat to Live and came up with the whole concept of eating “nutrient-dense” food.
Dr. Fuhrman advises against cow’s milk for infants and toddlers because it can create gastroesophageal reflux, iron deficiency, and calcium and sodium excess. It also lacks DHA, which children that continue breast-feeding after age 1 still receive. Dr. Fuhrman recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age, and if that is not possible, that between 12-18 mths a DHA-supplemented cow’s milk formula be given to your child. A cow’s milk formula is preferred over a soy milk formula because it contains a lot less aluminum than soy-based formulas. Then, he says, you can slowly transition to a homemade milk made by blending raw blanched almonds and other nuts and seeds with unsweetened soy milk and a little water until you have a thick, creamy milk. Or you can simply mix soy milk with almond milk. After doing some reading about coconut oil and lauric acid (a fat also found in breast milk), I will probably also add a tiny bit of coconut oil to the blended milk. Dr. Fuhrman also advises children 9 months old be fed avocados, tofu, and nut butters to ensure they eat enough fat. I’ve started blending almonds into a flour and adding them to my 9-mth old’s veggie purees and she loves it.
I was very grateful to finally find an answer that I trust, from a reputable source. I wish my first child could have benefited from the knowledge I’m now discovering, but at least she is off of dairy products now, and enjoying her almond milk greatly (with the occasional soy or coconut milk). I also want to highly recommend this book, Disease-Proof Your Child. Dr. Fuhrman can be quite harsh and blunt in his discussions–essentially telling parents we are “killing” our children–but sometimes if you word things too lightly, people won’t listen.