Soy formula is a popular alternative to a cow’s milk based one.
Many people use it when they see their child is colicky or seems sensitive to her current regimen. But is it really beneficial? This article explores the popular reasons many parents switch and which ones are justified. It comes to the conclusion many babies would benefit from different types such as lactose free or hydrolyzed instead.
To learn more about the different types of formulas go here. With such a wide selection, you should have no problem selecting the perfect one for your baby. Of course, consult your doctor before changing, and don't forget to tell him your reasons for wanting to switch.
A recent article from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlined the reasons babies should be on soy formula. What are they? Vegan babies, babies who are lactose intolerant, and ones with galactosemia, a rare genetic disorder.
That’s it! Despite this, it is very popular and actually accounts for about 20% of the baby formula sold in the US. What are other parents using this type of formula for and what does the AAP recommend using instead?
Shouldn’t babies with colic, lactose intolerance and milk allergy try this type of formula?
The AAP does not recommend soy formula for colicky or fussy babies, although many parents and pediatricians still swear by it. The truth is the research just isn’t there. Although the reasons for colic remain unclear, it not thought to be a result of the formula. Instead, consider it may be reflux or something completely unrelated to food and formula.
If the baby is lactose intolerant, there are many milk based, lactose free formulas available that are high quality and will prevent the symptoms of lactose intolerance such as diarrhea, bloating and gas. In cases of lactose intolerance however, it's a toss up. If you feel better using soy formula for your lactose intolerant infant you can.
Although some doctors recommend this type of formula to decrease eczema and prevents allergies, there isn’t good evidence on this, so there is no reason to switch unnecessarily.
Finally, if your baby is allergic to milk they will do better on a hydrolyzed formula such as Alimentum since there is such a high risk of being allergic to soy as well.
It doesn’t sound like soy formula is good for much. What are the reasons to switch?
It is a great option for parents who want to raise their children vegan because, while most standard formulas are cow’s milk based, this formula is not derived from animals or animal products.
It is also good for babies with lactose intolerance if you would rather not risk a lactose free dairy formula.
And finally, your baby needs a this type of formula if she has galactosemia, which means she can’t digest the sugar in milk. You probably know if your baby has this though, since it a disease screened for in the newborn screening test in most states.
Is this type of formula harmful for my baby?
If your baby was a preemie or if she was born small, this formula is not the best choice for her. It interferes with bone growth, and a cow’s milk formula is a much better option.
The rest of the risks aren’t as well known or understood. Soy contains isoflavones, which are hormone like substances. The effects on the reproductive systems of babies are unclear and need more research.
Bottom Line for using Soy Formula:
Since so many things about this type of formula are unclear and the research is not overwhelmingly positive, unless your baby fits into one of the 3 categories that can benefit, why risk it? There are plenty of baby formulas out there that are a better fit and may be more beneficial for your baby. Of course, breast milk is best, but if for whatever reason you are unable to do this, choose a great formula that will help your baby grow and thrive.