By Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CLC
Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CLC & mom is a registered dietitian, board certified specialist in P ediatric nutrition, and certified lactation counselor, Nicole has worked with hundreds of children and families with chronic medical conditions, food allergies, and picky eatin g. She is the creator of Tiny Tasters on-demand feeding classes. Prior to her current roles she was a clinical nutritionist at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York - Presbyterian/Columbia.
I see on a daily basis how different children are. Having spent over a decade as a pediatric nutritionist, I have worked with hundreds of children and their families, and as a mom of two toddlers, I truly recognize the unique needs of each child. Different children need different things, nutrition included. While it may seem like there are endless infant and toddler formulas on the market, most of them are actually quite similar with the main protein sources being cow’s milk or soy, or some hydrolyzed, broken-down versions of the two. Thanks to Else Nutrition, a different formula now exists – one that is dairy and soy-free. Here is why you may want to consider trying a dairy-free formula for your little one.
Allergies, Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance, Lactose Intolerance, Reflux
Cow’s milk allergy or cow’s milk protein intolerance is one of the most common allergies seen in infant and children. Between 5% and 15% of infants show symptoms suggesting adverse reactions to cow’s milk protein. It can manifest in a many ways – some babies have reactions that involve the skin with hives or eczema, others present with vomiting, abdominal pain, blood in stools, diarrhea, vomiting, facial swelling, wheezing or poor growth due to malabsorption of nutrients. But the prevalence of an IgE mediated allergy to cow’s milk is lower because many babies do not get tested when they present with certain symptoms (such as skin reactions), or they present with non IgE mediated reactions, such as Food Protein- Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES). So, in other words, there are likely more babies allergic to cow’s milk protein than are actually tested for it. And, often children present with other gastrointestinal trouble that are not related to the immune systems but can be triggered by cow’s milk, such as reflux in babies or lactose intolerance in toddlers, which is an inability to digest lactose, the carbohydrate component, in cow’s milk.
Health Benefits of Going Plant-Based
Plant-based diets have been linked to many positive health outcomes, such as reduced cardiovascular risk and lower incidence of certain cancers. Plant-based diets tend to be higher in fiber and antioxidants and lower in saturated fat. While there hasn’t been enough research that shows a direct health risk to consuming animals treated with hormones and antibiotics, there are doubts about their safety; many parents opt to avoid that potential risk in their own diets, and want the same for their children’s diets. This is why many parents want to consider a dairy-free formula that provides similar calories, total fat, carbohydrates, protein and micronutrients as cow’s milk-based formula, but without as much saturated fat and the potential risk of consuming animal byproducts.
Environmental and Ethical Benefits
Another reason to consider opting for a dairy-free formula is for the environmental advantage. Compared to producing animal-based products, a sustainably produced plant-based formula that uses whole ingredients ground up, rather than heavily diluted ingredients, helps the environment save some of its natural resources. And, for others, the ethical concerns of animal treatment guides them to avoid all animal products.
The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.