Almost 25% of the total baby formula sales in the U.S. are now from soy-based formulas. Are you considering using soy formula for your baby because of allergic or other reasons?
Soy-based baby formula can be ideal for your baby if you notice your baby is allergic to cows milk or if your pediatrician recommended soy-formula for another reason. Soy formula is not recommended for premature babies, based on the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is mostly because of the big difference in fat content on cows milk and soy milk.
Soy formula for babies with colic
A popular reason that some parents have considered soy baby formula is to help their little one with colic. While there’s no proof that soy formula fights colic, it’s definitely worth testing if your little one is not doing well and is not allergic to soy.
Both soy formula and cows milk contain sucrose and fiber that might help soothe a colicky baby, but there’s no medical paper that proves this.
Most of the time colic stops on its own after a baby is 4-6 months, I have even seen some parents bring their baby to the Chiropractors to help relieve colic.
Colic is yet completely understood by doctors, which is why many try different fairly safe alternatives like using soy formula instead of cows milk to see if this brings relief to their little one.
Soy formula for babies who can’t drink cows milk
Soy milk is also a popular alternative for formula powder for babies who are allergic to cows milk.
Your little one could be lactose intolerant or have galactosemia. Because of this milk allergy, your little one’s immune system can’t handle the sugars in cows milk. Soy protein is an ideal alternative to nourish them and keep their digestive system calm.
All major infant formula brands like Similac and Gerber make a soy-based powdered formula.
How can I tell if my baby is lactose intolerant?
It can be hard to know if your baby is lactose intolerant or has a symptom due to something else in life. Your little one can’t properly communicate with you, but there are a few signals that you can look out for to see if your baby is having trouble with cows milk.
- Stomach cramps
- Excessive gas
- Signs in their poop like weird texture or colors.
If you notice any or all of these symptoms above in your baby, it’s time to contact your kiddos pediatrician to have a closer look.
In general, lactose intolerance is pretty rare in infants, and your pediatrician can better diagnose if something like your child’s formula or feeding methods could be causing any issues.
If you’ve been giving your baby cows milk and see minor discomfort, it’s worth trying to use soy formula for feedings and check on how comfortable they are with their switch over a few day’s time.
Is soy formula better for gassy babies?
So, soy formula is already fairly expensive compared to buying a gallon of cows milk. Is it a better alternative for comforting your gassy baby? Let’s take a look.
If your little one doesn’t have any milk allergy but is quite gassy, you could consider using an adjusted baby formula meant to help this exact symptom. You could consider getting Enfamil Gentalease or Similac Sensitive (to name 2 of many options) to keep it milk-based and see if your baby feels better.
Cows milk has been known to cause gas in some people more than others, the same goes for babies. There is no proof that soy formula fixes the gassy problem for your little one, but it’s definitely worth a try to help relieve their gassy tummy.
Here’s the thing about gassy babies. If your little one is just a few weeks old, he or she might be gassy simply because they’re still developing. Babies are born with an immature gut, and eating all the time doesn’t help too much.
The extra gassiness can come from just their overall natural development, and nothing to do with what formula they’re taking in. That’s why it’s great that you’re doing your research to seek out any symptoms you might be seeing in your little one, and then take him or her to the pediatrician if things don’t get better over time.
Concerns when going soy for your baby
As you consider transitioning from cows milk to soy formula, it’s worth noting that there are a few cases when it could not be a positive transition.
The first case is that soy milk is generally less fatty than cows milk. Your little one needs a good portion of fat in his or her diet, which is why your pediatrician would recommend whole milk or baby formula that’s usually higher in fat content too.
While most milk-based formula would be around 6-8g of fat, the soy-based formula would be closer to 4-5g or even less. As you do multiple feedings over the days and weeks, the difference can add up.
The second case to consider is that the soy-protein formula has a high level of aluminum compared to breastfeeding or cows milk. This added aluminum exposure for your baby isn’t known to be a problem for most babies who were born full-term, but if your little one was born preterm, you’d want to go over this with your pediatrician.
Being a preemie baby and drinking soy formula milk, your little one could have reduced bone mineralization over time. Supplementing calcium with their feedings might not be enough to fix it either.
The third case is if your little one is colic. There’s no concrete proof as to how colic happens in some babies (and not in others) and how to fix it. There are lots of things parents do to bring relief, but going from cows milk to soy milk to bring relief to your colicky baby might not do much.
The fourth case is regarding allergies. Soy is known to be one of the top-ranked allergens in the world.
If you take your baby to the pediatrician to discuss milk allergies, you’d also want to talk about possibly soy allergy to avoid giving your little one something that might do more bad than good.
How long does it take for my baby to have a reaction from the formula?
Whether you’re considering moving to soy formula, or just checking on your baby’s reaction to cows milk, you’ll want to know when to spot the first signs of discomfort.
As I mentioned earlier (and according to WebMD) only about 2% to 15% of all babies actually have a formula intolerance.
This means that if you do see changes in your little one, like extra gas or fussiness, it could be more due to their natural development than any formula discomfort.
When to switch your baby to soy formula?
Before switching to a soy-based formula, make sure to have a little talk with your child’s pediatrician on the use of soy formula for your baby.
A parent may prefer to switch to the soy-based formula under the following conditions.
Baby has Galactosemia
This is a rare condition where the body is unable to convert galactose, which is a complex milk sugar to glucose, a simple sugar. Breastfeeding becomes extremely difficult for an infant suffering from this condition as galactose is found in all types of milk, including breast milk.
Soy formula can be an alternative for such infants, but only if the child is above 12 months of age. For babies, under the age of 12 months, doctors recommend a special galactose-free formula.
Baby has Lactose allergy
Babies with primary lactase deficiency, a condition where a baby is born without the enzyme to digest the sugar lactose, can switch to a soy-based formula which is naturally free of lactose sugar.
Babies who suffer from lactose allergy have immunological intolerance to lactose. Their bodies detect lactose as a pathogen and try to attack it. This is caused due to the lack of necessary genes for the production of lactase, which is important for the breakdown of lactose.
Parents who follow a strict vegan diet
Parents who want their infants to have plant-based formula instead of animal milk. Organic soy-based formula is free of any animal-based substances and can be given as an alternative option to cow-based formula.
That said, soy formula does have its disadvantages too, so make an informed decision after consulting your pediatrician.
Final thoughts on soy milk baby formula
I hope I was helpful in sharing different perspectives on if you should consider using soy formula for your baby.
There’s no proof, but many parents have gone online to share that switching from regular baby formula to soy has helped their baby with gas, cramps, bloating, and even the dreadful colic.
Nearly 25% of the U.S. market of baby formula is now soy protein-based, which shows that there’s a lot of parents who use and trust it.
As it’s not a dangerous switch, have a quick call with your baby’s pediatrician, and consider buying a container to try out for a week or two, and closely monitor how your little kiddo is taking it.