Best milk for toddlers

What Plant-Based Milk is Best for Toddlers?

If your toddler does not drink cow's milk, whether for allergies, personal beliefs or simply for taste, and you are looking for a healthy alternative, keep reading, you need to know this!

Plant-based milk has many benefits for children, however, not all of them are suitable for children, especially toddlers, and being aware of this fact is very important for your child's nutrition as "milk" is usually an important part of their diet, and it can directly impact your little one's health.

Plant-based Beverages are Not for Infants

First and foremost, it's imperative to highlight that a plant-based alternative should not replace breast milk or infant formula in the initial 12 months unless advised by a healthcare professional.

Infants require specific nutrients during this period that plant milks might not provide.

Are Plant Milks Good for Toddlers?

After the first birthday of your little one, you can introduce a milk alternative, but finding the best non-dairy milk for children could be a challenge for many parents.

A plant-based milk may be the first choice to substitute cow's milk. We can find many options in the market: almonds, oat, soy, rice, pea, and many more.

However, most of these milk substitutes are not suitable for the nutritional needs of children under 4 years old.

In general, regular plant milk provides low energy (calories) and carbohydrates and virtually no fat and protein. This could be suitable for adults but inadequate for the growth and development needs of toddlers.

It's important to understand that little kids have small tummies that fill up quickly. When we offer between 2 and 3 cups of milk per day, we are filling their tummies with a low-nutrient density drink, which can make them feel full and less interested in eating other important foods.

This is why you need to find a plant-based drink tailored to your child's growing needs.


Finding the Ideal Option

So, what's the best plant-based milk for toddlers? The key is to find a tailored option that addresses your child's nutritional requirements.

Each brand is different, so it's important to check the Nutritional Fact Label to know if it's suitable for your little one.

Here are basics guidelines for choosing the best plant-based milk for your kid:

One serving of 200ml or one cup must provide at least:

  • Calories: 100 kcal or more
  • Fats: 3g
  • Carbs: 10g
  • Protein: 3g
  • No added sugar

Additional Considerations

While nutritional value is key, we need to consider other factors when selecting a brand. I recommend avoiding milk alternatives with preservatives or artificial sweeteners.

Some brands contain different ingredients that add value to the formulation and therefore improve the nutritional quality of the product.

For example:

Allergen-free: If your kiddo has an allergy or food sensitivity, be careful about the ingredient list, as some of these milk alternatives have known allergens such as almond, soy or gluten.

Food Additives: Some food additives found in many dairy-free milks have been linked to gut damage, inflammatory bowel disease and allergic reactions. Some examples are carrageenan, polysorbate and carboxymethylcellulose.

Also, many brands use gums like guar gum, gellan gum, and xanthan gum for creaminess and to avoid separation. However, there are concerns that these gums may lead to gastrointestinal issues like gas and bloating. Eating small amounts of these gums (excluding carrageenan) is generally safe unless your child experiences discomfort.

Organic and Non-GMO ingredients: Opt for these to minimize your child's exposure to toxins, pesticide residues, hormones and other chemicals.

If you buy soy or oat milk, be sure they are certified to be free of glyphosate residue (herbicide).

Probiotics: For healthy gut flora and immune system support.

Fortification: Especially Calcium, as milk is an excellent source of this essential mineral.

Healthy fats: Especially omega-3 fatty acids or DHA to support brain and eye development.

Stay away from the low-fat version of these beverages, as fat is essential to ensure healthy growth in toddlers. Fat should make up 30-40% of their diet at this stage.

best plant-based milk for toddlers

Can I Offer Homemade Plant Milk to My Toddler?

While crafting plant-based milk at home, like almond or oat milk, has become popular, it presents a similar challenge. Homemade options might not provide the right amount of nutrients for your child's diet. 

If you make homemade milk for yourself, you can incorporate it into your child's oatmeal or smoothies but not as a primary source of plant-based milk.

How Can I Find a Suitable Non-Dairy Milk Alternative for My Toddler?

Researching and comparing available options, experimenting with different brands, and considering your toddler's taste preferences are vital steps in finding the ideal non-dairy milk alternative. A brand might have the best nutritional profile, but if your child doesn't enjoy the taste, it's a non-starter.

In conclusion, the journey to find the best plant-based milk for toddlers involves careful consideration of nutritional content, additional beneficial ingredients, and, equally importantly, your child's palate. As you navigate this path, keeping these factors in mind ensures that your toddler receives a wholesome, nourishing milk alternative tailored to their growing needs.

Best plant based milk for toddlers canada

If you live in Canada, here is an excellent option for you to try:

Plant Baby is an organic plant-based beverage especially designed for toddlers.
A nutritious and delicious plant-based drink made with natural ingredients and specially designed to meet the growing needs of children under 4 years.
🐮 Dairy-Free
🌿 Soy-Free
🌰 Nut-Free
🌾 Gluten-Free
🌱 Non-GMO
🧁 Only Naturally Occurring Sugar

Always talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions.


Written by:

Carmen Bautista
Dietitian & New Mom
Bachelor's degree in Nutrition
Master's degree in Food & Dietetics
Health Coach Certification

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.