Soy Formula vs. Milk Formula

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At this point, it is common knowledge that breast feeding is better for your baby than formula. But sometimes, breast feeding simply isn’t an option. Soy and milk based formulas are currently the most popular. Typically, soy formula is used when the baby has a sensitivity or allergy to dairy or the parents adhere to a vegan diet and extend it to their child. However, many health conscious parents are now curious as to whether or not it could be better for their baby.

While milk based formula is the most common, some babies have problems with either the lactose (milk sugar) or the milk protein that can cause rashes and digestive issues. Some babies may also become fussy and gassy due to milk based formula. In these situations, an alternative is usually needed.

The first alternative is usually soy based formula. However, there’s recently been lots of debate as to whether or not it should be. Studies show that 10-14% of infants that are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy. Therefore, there’s a fair chance that if cow’s milk formula didn’t work for your child, neither will soy. However, the biggest concern that has been raised is the fact that soy based formula contains high amounts of isoflavones, which is an estrogen-like compound. These may affect brain and development problems, as well as cause reproductive issues once the children reach puberty. It also has been linked to higher risk of breast cancer. For these reasons, it’s recommended by some that soy based formula is used as a last resort, though others state that it does not pose any real threat.

It’s important to remember that these aren’t your only two options. For babies with that do not respond well to soy or milk based formula, doctors may prescribed hypoallergenic formula. This type of formula has been pre-digested to make it easier for your baby to digest. There is also goat milk formula, which some say is the closest to breastmilk, however there is some debate about its merits as well. One increasingly popular solution, which in some cases may even save you money, is to make your own. You can find a ton on the internet, though it’s best to consult your baby’s pediatrician before trying them.

What you feed your baby is ultimately up to you, your values, and your budget. Aside from the speculated issues with soy milk, nutritionally it is said to be equal to cow’s milk formula. Of course, there will always be pro’s and con’s to any route you decide to take. With the help of the pediatrician, you can find what’s best for you baby.


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By Alecia Stanton of Expecting Parents Alliance of America


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