Soy contains a great amount of protein but with less saturated fat than other animal sources. Hence, the recent prominence it is gaining among health-conscious consumers. While anyone would naturally like to have soy, and though largely beneficial for adults, soy-based formulas might have undesirable effects on babies. In this article, you will learn the benefits, pros and cons, side effects and dangers of using soy formula and whether or not you should incorporate the related products into your baby’s meal.
Soy Baby Formula Pros and Cons
- Soy may ease milk allergies
Normally, infants should feed on breast or milk-based formula for the first 12 months of their life. By the time they’re one, a pediatrician would likely advise that you switch to whole cow’s milk. Now, one of the drawbacks of this routine is that some babies can be allergic to milk proteins. Thus, the switch might be complicated after the first year. Milk allergies can come in different forms such as uncomfortable symptoms in the baby’s body like rashes and irritability. This is where soy-based formulas are helpful. They can ease milk allergies by offering practically the same nutrients without any concern for a milk-allergy reaction.
- Perfect for lactose intolerance
It is highly imperative that you are able to distinguish between lactose intolerance and milk allergies. When your baby finds it difficult to naturally digest sugars in cow’s milk, they can develop extreme irritability and gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea. In this case, soy formulas are best for babies with lactose intolerance.
- Effective for long-term health considerations
Because soy formula is made from plants, they are effective for long-term health stability. From research, people who eat plant-based diets are less likely to develop chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease compared with the ones who eat little plant foods. Following this consideration, you might be prompted as a parent to start feeding your baby with a healthy diet early in life. Some of these studies have shown that the protein in soy may cause side effects like diarrhea, stomach pain, and others. Hence, soy is typically recommended for infants only if there is a medical concern. Soy is typically recommended for infants only if there is a medical concern.
- Soy Formula might promote allergies
Some babies, in the process of switching to soy formula, won’t adjust from the potential milk allergies. In fact, from research, there is a 10 to 14 percent chance that a cross-reactivity within proteins in cow’s milk and soybeans happens. This implies that the risk of having an allergy to soy may be even greater in the infant. That is, especially if they have a milk allergy. As such, soy may not suffice to eliminate or reduce the allergy symptoms in all babies.
As such, soy may not suffice to eliminate or reduce the allergy symptoms in all babies.
- High in sugar
- Can contain corn syrup
Breast milk remains the best in terms of fulfilling the nutritional needs of a baby. Doctors rarely recommend offering soy formula-based meals or diet to babies until they are 12 months old.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for alternate options of breast milk when you start to wean your baby or in case they are lactose intolerant, soy can be the perfect and acceptable substitute.
Soy Formula is effective for
- Breast cancer
- Trouble or difficulty digesting the sugar galactose
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Kidney disease
- Lactose intolerance
- Menopausal symptoms
- Metabolic syndrome
- Source of dietary protein
Side Effects and Dangers of Soy Formula
The soy-based formula differs from soy milk in that the former is specially formulated to include nutrients that are required for the healthy development of the baby.
Coming as a replacement for cow’s milk, soy formula contains 4,500 times or more the level of phytoestrogens found in cow’s or human’s milk.
Long-term use of high doses of soy extract is considered unsafe and there is a great chance that consuming foods containing soy protein or taking soy protein products are safe.
Generally, soy formula has some potential risks
- It is a potent endocrine disruptor
- It can cause constipation in infants
- Possible reproductive health risk
- Other adverse effects are uncertain in infants. And while the danger and causes and effects are hard to prove in exact terms, there is a need to be concerned and careful with the use of soy formula.
Soy Formula Alternatives
One of the challenges that nursing mothers and parents deal with is the milk or baby formula allergies.
In case of obvious allergies, the following alternatives are recommended for soy formula:
- Hydrolysate formulas: Cow’s milk protein-based which works for babies with mild sensitivities to the standard cow’s milk-based formulas
- Rice Milk: Some babies are allergic to soy products and cow’s milk. Rice milk formulas can be made as a substitute in their stead.
- Extensively hydrolyzed formula
- Amino acid-based or elemental formula
Switching to Soy Formula: What to Consider
In switching to soy formula from breast or cow’s milk, the following things must be considered:
- When there is a preference for a vegetarian diet
- In infants with hereditary lactase deficiency or galactosemia, in which a baby finds it difficult to metabolize the main sugar in milk (lactose) or a sugar component.
Switching from Soy to Regular Formula
Choose regular formula over soy formula if you observe colic or fussiness in your baby.
Avoid using soy formula if your baby has a cow’s milk protein allergy. Also, stay away from soy formula if your baby has a high risk for food allergies.
After all, this is what you are trying to prevent them from further developing. In addition, to start regular or milk formula, begin by gradually weaning the baby off soy.
Consult your pediatrician before switching in order to confirm the benefits and risks.
Is soy good for babies?
Soy formula can be harmful to premature babies even though the fact that dietary soy may have an adverse effect on human development, reproduction or endocrine function remains inconclusive. It’s generally not a good choice as a first food for a baby.
Can Soy formula constipate a baby?
From research, switching to soy formula isn’t always enough because many kids who are allergic to milk are also to soy.
A soy formula, however, rarely constipates a baby, except if there is an allergy.
Often times, the child would instead have acid reflux. Though constipation in infants is often formula-related, it is believed that soy formula may cause constipation in infants.
Will soy formula help with a milk allergy?
Many babies with cow’s milk allergy are also allergic to soy. Hence, soy formula has no particularly convincing way of easing colic in babies with cow’s milk allergy.
In the same way, it does not help infants develop a tolerance for cow’s milk protein.
So here you go. Now you know the pros and cons of soy formula and can make an educated decision.
If after comparing the benefits and side effects of soy you decide that it’s still the best option for your baby, be sure to choose a high-quality product.
After researching the available infant soy formulas on the market in 2021, we recommend the highly-rated Earth’s Best Non-GMO Soy Formula.