Soy Milk For Babies – Benefits And Side-Effects

7 min read

Written by Pradeep


soy milk for babies

The time when the baby has to move from breast or formula milk to other types of food, one will get shocked to see the variations available in the market. There is whole milk, low-fat milk, water as well as juices, and it does become difficult to decipher which is the most nutritious for the babies. A widely known healthy option is soy milk which can be a replacement for different types of drinks and even for kids who are lactose-intolerant. Find out the benefits and side effects of soy milk for babies.

Breast milk is definitely the ideal choice in order to satisfy the nutritive needs of a baby. Soy milk is not offered to babies unless they are more than a year old. It is the best substitute for babies who are either allergic to milk or who need to stop taking their mother’s milk. Let us have a broad insight about soy milk, its nutritional intake, health benefits, the process of selection, the comparison with cow’s milk, its harmful effects, etc.

In This Article

What is Soy Milk?

Soy milk is one of the most common substitutes for cow’s milk. This milk is most suitable for the ones who are allergic to milk or its products. Soy milk is available in a variety of flavors that are liked by all babies who do not like the taste of cow’s milk. Soy milk is enriched with protein, iron, and the flavor of cooked beans.

Nutritional Value of Soya Milk

The source of soy milk is soybeans. The beans get processed as a powder with protein and can be used as a beverage that has fiber as well. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B-12, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. It has almost the same protein value as that of cow’s milk.

Is Soy Milk Safe for Babies?

Soy milk is not safe for babies. It is not appropriate for their digestive system as it is not fully evolved yet. It is also devoid of some essential minerals for the healthy development of babies.

Therefore, soy protein and other essential nutrients are pulled out from the soybean to formulate soy infant formula powder. This is further fortified with essential nutrients.

Points to Remember Before You Offer Soy Milk to Babies

Here are a few points you have to remember:

  • Never give regular soya milk to babies before they turn two years old.
  • Likewise, never give Soy infant formula to premature or preterm babies. Feeding premature a baby is always a concern for parents. This is because they will not be able to digest the soy milk.
  • Moreover, preterm babies fed with soy formula pose an increased risk of developing osteopenia. This condition happens due to the inadequate development of new bone cells. The bones of the baby with osteopenia eventually turn brittle.

What are the Conditions that Make One Opt for Soy Milk for Their Baby?

baby drinking soy milk

A few situations in which you can opt for soy milk for the baby:

  • If the baby is experiencing an unusual genetic disorder- Galactosemia. In such a situation, as the baby’s body is not able to transfer a complex milk sugar – galactose, to simpler sugar – glucose, you can opt for soy infant formula.
  • In case the baby contacts a lactose allergy.
  • If the parents want the baby to follow a vegan diet.

What are the Health Benefits of Soy Milk for Infants?

Soy milk is associated with the following health benefits:

  • It is beneficial for lactose-intolerant babies.
  • It helps the brain development of the baby.
  • Soy milk is low in fat, so helps to keep the body weight in a healthy manner.
  • It reduces the chances of any heart ailments.
  • It helps in keeping a check on obesity-related issues.
  • Babies who consume soy milk have fewer issues with bowl irritations as well as loose motions as it is enriched with fiber.
  • It is also good for babies who are born with a condition where the body cannot break down galactose as mentioned earlier.

How to Select Soy Milk?

A few tips to help you choose the best soy milk for your baby:

  • It is advisable to choose a full-fat variation of soy milk as it is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a baby. However, it is not advisable if the baby is prone to obesity or heart diseases.
  • Always best to choose soy milk which is fortified with all the required nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for the overall growth of the baby. (Remember, just as in the case of cow’s milk, soy is not naturally packed with all vital minerals and nutrients for the healthy development of the baby).

Soy Milk vs Cow Milk

Let’s look into how soy milk is different from cow’s milk.

  • Soy milk has trivial fat and sugar content when compared to cow’s milk.
  • It is enriched with iron as well as fiber as compared to cow’s milk.
  • Cow’s milk has a good combination of all important nutrients like vitamin A and B12 that are non-existent in soy milk.
  • The calcium in cow’s milk can be absorbed and digested easily, but soy milk has a compound in it that reduces the calcium absorption inside the body.
  • All good fats required for the baby’s proper growth are present in the cow’s milk and the protein content in cow’s milk is even more than the soy milk.

Therefore, it is best to offer soy milk along with different nutritional sources for a balanced and healthy development as alone it is not nutritious enough for the baby.

What is the Difference Between Soy Milk and Soy Formula?

soy milk

Soy milk does not contain an adequate amount of natural calcium nor does it contain the required level of fat and protein. On the other hand, soy formula, which uses soybean as its source of protein and comes in powdered or liquid form, comes with all the added benefits of fortified nutrients.

Are There Any Harmful Effects of Soy Milk on Babies?

Soy milk alone cannot suffice the nourishing needs of a baby as it does not have all the required nutrients for the healthy growth and development of the baby. It should not be given to a baby who is less than a year. Some other harmful effects are as given:

  • As per reports, soy milk has constituents that can lead to health issues in the future like more chances of breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc., though nothing has been proven.
  • Another risk of soya milk is the presence of phytoestrogens, estrogen-like substances. These substances naturally occur in many plants. The hormonal development is found to affect if babies (especially baby boys) ingest high levels of phytoestrogens. These babies, thus, may have to face several issues with the onset of puberty.
  • Not all babies are comfortable with the taste of the milk.
  • Babies who are allergic to cow’s milk can develop an allergy to soy as well.
  • In one out of 100 cases, soy milk consumption can even create an imbalance in the thyroid readings worsening the situation.

When Should You Never Give Soya Milk to Babies?

Never opt for soy milk for your baby if,

  • The infant is clinically diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism. In such cases, the soy protein has been found to get in the way of the absorption of the hormone administered as a substitution.
  • The child is experiencing Enterocolitis, a condition in which the inner lining of the intestine is extremely sensitive to certain proteins. 60% of babies experiencing Enterocolitis due to protein in cow milk are found prone to soy protein as well.
  • The baby has some allergic conditions like eczema, asthma, milk allergy, etc. These babies pose more risk to contract soy allergy.

Tips to Consider While Feeding Soy Milk for Infants

Tips to Consider While Feeding Soy Milk for Infants

A few tips to help you feed soy milk to your baby:

  • Sole consumption of soy milk leads to a lack of nutrition. Therefore, if you decide to rely on soy milk exclusively for your baby, make sure your baby is getting calcium from some other sources. Why is it because some elements in soy may get in the way of calcium absorption?
  • It should rather be used as an add-on and not as a replacement for cow’s milk or mother’s milk.
  • Always start the soy milk in smaller quantities and keep a check on any side effects or allergies. In case of any, seek medical advice immediately.

When Can a Baby Have Regular Soy Milk?

If your baby does not belong to the group to avoid soy milk (explained above), you can introduce regular soy milk any time after two years. By this time their intestine will be used to digest several kinds of solid food. Moreover, your little one will finish all the important immunization by then.

When it comes to toddlers, soy milk is more beneficial than cow’s milk. However, when introducing soy milk for the first time to your baby, we recommend a small serving. Also closely monitor the child for the signs of an allergic reaction. If you find nothing you can give him soy milk on a regular basis.

Thus, soy milk is certainly beneficial for babies since it is enriched with proteins, vitamins, and minerals, yet it has its own harmful effects and some drawbacks as well. So it is important for any parent to get a thorough insight into the benefits and side-effects of soy milk for babies before starting feeding the babies. However, remember to introduce it little by little.

We no doubt wish to give a nutritious and wholesome diet to the baby, but it is prudent to do so with proper medical assistance and careful supervision. Hope this article on soy milk for babies – benefits and side effects is helpful.


1. Can Soy Milk Replace Breast Milk?

No. No milk is healthier than breast milk. If you can’t breastfeed, opt for a suitable formula.

2. Can Lactose Intolerant Children Drink Soy Milk?

Yes. Since soy milk is vegan and not animal milk, it is suitable for children who suffer from lactose issues. However, it needs to be prescribed by your doctor if it is for a small baby.

3. Can I Boil Soy Milk?

Yes, you can. In fact, it is recommended. Soy milk has to be boiled before consumption for safety reasons.

4. Can I Use Soy Milk for Cooking my Baby’s Meals?

Yes, you can. You can add soy milk instead of animal milk in meal preparations. It will have a different taste though.


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