When newborn parents choose a baby formula for their infant, most pick one made from cow’s milk. In fact, nearly 80% of all baby formulas on the market are based on it.
Parents frequently go with dairy-based baby formulas because they are supposedly made of 100% cow’s milk. However, even those formulas contain plant-based ingredients as butterfats are usually replaced with vegetable oils. Besides dairy-based formulas, there’s another option on the market that you should seriously consider for your newborns – plant-based formulas.
Since plant-based or vegan infant formulas have hit the market, parents worldwide have changed their opinions and started to look for healthier options for their kids. And rightfully so, because more and more infants become lactose intolerant or develop specific milk allergies within the first months of their lives.
The first plant-based formula, dating back to 1909 in the US, was a soy-based infant formula made by using soy protein. Until today, the soy-based baby formula remains the exclusive plant-based formula that could be found on US market shelves. Outside of North America, there are other plant-based infant formulas like the rice-based one, which is extremely popular in Europe.
Presently, there are plenty of options you can choose from, so knowing that you need to run a thorough check-up on baby formulas before you finally select the adequate one. Read along and find out the top five reasons you should go with plant-based formulas for your baby and reap their benefits.
Your Baby Might Be Lactose Intolerant
The dairy-based formula was made to imitate the chemical compound and nourishment of human breast milk. However, dairy-based formulas might prove everything but perfect for your baby.
For example, your infant might be lactose intolerant. In that case, it’s best to feed your baby exclusively with dairy free formula. These plant-based formulas don’t use chemicals to break down the ingredients and are naturally processed. Besides, the protein, carbohydrates, and fat content come directly from the whole plant (buckwheat, almond, or tapioca in most cases) and provide optimal nourishment and real nutrition for your little one.
The cause for lactose intolerance is always challenging to identify. If you have a family history of lactose intolerance, then your infant is at a higher risk of developing it as well. Lactose intolerance can differ in severity. It comes as a result of the body lacking the enzyme lactase essential to break down the sugar contained in regular cow’s milk.
The most common lactose intolerance symptoms in babies include petulance around eating, bloating, vomiting, abdominal pain and increased gassiness. In case you suspect that your infant is lactose intolerant, make sure to consult with your baby’s pediatrician and then consider implementing a plant-based baby formula instead of a diary-based one.
Your Infant Might Be Allergic To Milk Protein
Selecting a dairy-free formula for your baby might sometimes mean that you’ll have to check the hypoallergenic and amino acid plant-based formula options, respectively. This is a top priority if your infant is allergic to milk proteins, casein, and whey.
In lactose intolerance, the intolerance is due to a lack of digestive enzymes, as noted earlier. On the other hand, if your baby’s allergic to milk protein – that’s due to an autoimmune response, and it can easily result in an allergic reaction like hives, swelling, or itchiness.
In more severe cases, milk protein allergy can even lead to an anaphylactic shock, which requires immediate medical attention. So, if your baby is diagnosed with a milk protein allergy, you will most definitely have to provide them with a dairy-free formula.
Your Infant Has Increased Risk For Reflux
Acid reflux is a health condition when acid is flowing back into the throat and causes discomfort. With infants, it’s believed that there’s a correlation between milk protein and reflux. The occasional reflux symptoms include spitting up after feeding, which is a perfectly normal thing for healthy babies.
However, suppose you suspect that your infant might be experiencing severe reflux while eating, and it becomes more noticeable with time. In that case, you should seriously consider replacing the dairy formula with a non-dairy one.
Additional signs of acid reflux in infants include:
- Crying more while feeding
- Slowing or stopping weight gaining
- Refusing to be fed
- Frequent vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Stool changes
You’re Trying To Avoid Dairy Right From The Start
A lot of families are leaning towards plant-based diets, and their infants make no exception. In the United States, the number of people who opt for plant-based diets is growing every day, and a recent study revealed a 300% increase over the last 15 years. Moreover, almost 3% of the population is now leading a vegan lifestyle, which is approximately 9.6 million people, and that’s a trend that shows no signs of stopping.
For many households, minimizing the products from animal origin is of crucial meaning. It is known that plant-based diets can be extremely healthy and considered appropriate even for infants. With the dairy-free baby formula, you introduce your child to a plant-based diet right from the early days.
You Have Ethical Concerns With Dairy-Based Formulas
While dairy-based formulas have been the standard choice for an extended period, it is certainly not the only one. Many parents nowadays choose to provide their babies with a dairy-free formula because of ethical concerns about the dairy industry.
Many parents appreciate the non-dairy formulas because they are environmentally sustainable, and there is no need to harm animals in its process of making. This is especially important if the parents are vegan themselves, and it is of great importance to raise their baby vegan as well. Because, after all, we all know that all plants are our friends.
If you are a parent who is considering switching your infant’s formula from dairy-based to dairy-free, then you should read the above reasons for doing so. It is always best to consult with a pediatrician first, but anyhow, if there is a real health need for your baby to be fed with plant-based formula, then that is the right way to go.