Friday, May 23, 2008

Breastmilk vs. soymilk vs. formula

Grrrrr. The amount of information on the Internet is amazing and wonderful, yet staggering and lets face it--occasionally down right confusing.

Elliott is still breastfeeding or drinking expressed milk 5-6 times a day. He hasn't had a drop of formula yet. I want to stop pumping at work-but I don't want to stop breastfeeding. So, I have been trying to research the best options to make the transition from breast milk to 'other'. And to perhaps kick the bottle while we are making the switch.

Elliott was sensitive to dairy products when we first introduced them--yogurt in particular-- but his gut seems to be adjusting to the gradual introduction of cheese (and his taste buds love it!). I have never given him anything to drink besides breast milk and water, and like I said he has never had any formula. So, I don't know how he would tolerate these items. However, since he is only 11 months old--all of the books say not to give your child milk until they are 1 year anyway. This is the first area of confusion. Why is it OK to give your child cows milk products but not cows milk? And why the arbitrary age of 12 months? Does your child's digestive system miraculously on their 366th day say-bling--you can tolerate cows milk? Or is simply a timeline for when most kids can tolerate it and avoid the potential of allergies later? Or, more poignant--is it suggested to avoid the possibility of parents giving their kids cows milk in place of formula as a cost saving measure?

Well, if I cant give my babe cows milk--that leaves formula or a milk alternative, right? Wanting to research all of my options, I looked on the label of the free can of formula we received in the mail last week and the second ingredient is corn syrup solids. Uhh, no. I cant in good conscious give that to my son because I don't feel like pumping any more. Caveat: I don't judge formula feed babies, or a Mom's decisions to feed formula to their wee ones. I simply can not justify my decision since it is based on selfishness. Aside from that--formula is expensive. The second area of confusion is that the formula can says the age range is for babies 9-24 months. Well, does that mean my baby needs that sort of nutrition until they are 24 months old? Or, is that just a marketing tool to get me to think that feeding my babe formula is the most nutrition option? Or...? Who knows what I haven't thought of or considered.

That leaves a milk alternative. Our household drinks soy milk. I don't care for milk, and my husband doesn't mind soy. So, to save space, money and waste we both drink soy. Can I give my 11 month soy milk? Does it have all of the nutrients and vitamins necessary for his age? Can I replace 5 bottles a week of breast milk with sippy cups of organic unsweetened soy milk? And if so, why is there such a cultural tendency towards cows milk? If I give my baby soy am I forcefully subjecting him to my pseudo-granola lifestyle? Am I giving him a sub-par option? Am I a bad Mom for not offering him REAL (cows) milk?

All of this worry and it doesn't even touch on the topic of weaning--which I dread the day Elliott decides he isn't interested in breastfeeding or worse yet--I decide I am not interested in it anymore. If you have experience, advise or suggestions for the best way to navigate this milky pitfall--please comment or email me.

4 comments:

Lynanne said...

I've been looking into milk substitutes for my 13 month old who is still breastfeeding and hasn't been able to tolerate cow's milk. I personally don't like the idea of soy (I worry about phytoestrogens, especially with a male child). I found that rice milk also isn't a good choice.

Here are some article on the topic.

Soy milk:
http://parenting.ivillage.com/baby/bnutrition/0,,4570,00.html

Rice milk:
http://parenting.ivillage.com/baby/bnutrition/0,,3vrt,00.html

Cows milk vs. formula:
http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/milk-supplements.html

So, I'm stuck. I want to give him something besides water in a sippy cup but I have conflicting feelings on what to choose.

On formula: I've heard that breast milk is actually sweeter than most formulas. Formulas try to use the same sugars in breast milk for the most part. However, one formula has raised eyebrows (Similac Organic) because it's sweetened with sucrose (table sugar) which some say is a bad choice.

On dairy: It may not be the milk proteins that your son has problems with. Yogurt is high in lactose (a milk sugar) which can wreck havoc with an immature digestive system.

The concern about cow's milk is that before 1 year, even with solid foods, the majority of a child's nutrition comes from breastmilk/formula. Cow's milk isn't nutritionally complete. Also, some studies show that it can increase the risk of problems later in life when its given before 1 year. 1 year for cows milk isn't a magical number just as 1 year isn't a magical number for turning the carseat from rear facing to forward facing (again, most pediatricians now suggest waiting longer than 1 year if the child is under the weight/height restrictions for the carseat)

On weaning: Two of my children weaned suddenly before 1 year. Pain from teething or an ear infection might have been the culprit. Because of this, I dreaded the day my daughter would wean. As it turned out, it was such a gradual process that I can't even pinpoint when she finally quit.

Good luck! I'll be interested to see what you figure out.

tali said...

Here's what I think.

Cheese, yogurt, etc. is okay before a year because the lactose is broken down in one way or another, making it easier for baby to digest.

I switched my kids from from breast milk to cow's milk just by a week or two before their 1st birthday because I was ready.

I think cow's milk is a better option than soy for the phytoestrogen reason, and because I think the calcium is absorbed by the body better since it's not an additive.

I think 3-4 weeks of formula that does not contain corn syrup is totally fine for a baby.

I think you should go cold turkey on the bottle on his first birthday -- a rough few days, perhaps, but then ahhhhh . . . freedom. Both my kids protested the sippy cup but, as my pediatrician said, "a few days without milk is no big deal" -- just make sure to offer plenty of other dairy products during the transition period.

Most of all, have fun with all of this, and know you will not be doing your child any harm no matter what you choose.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting as your son is now 1 years old. I am wondering what your solution was to your dilemma. My daughter will be 1 in a couple of weeks and I am having the exact issue. However, she is allergic to soy and sensitive to milk. She weaned a month ago due to teething and general lack of interest. I am now considering renting a hospital grade pump to re-lactate to provide her with breast milk in a cup for her second year. After reading about ingredients in what she is on now, Alimentum, and not really wanting to pay $$$ for it any longer, this is the best choice. Please remark on any solutions.

E-lease on Life said...

Anon-
I posted a follow up here:
http://darwinsgirl.blogspot.com/2008/06/update-on-milk-front.html to what our solution was and still is.

I know that each Mothers decision is very personal, but I feel that breastmilk is the best thing you can offer your baby. If you are willing to attempt re-lactation, I feel that is a great solution.

However, life is about a series of choices-if one doesnt work, move on to another one. Not all things we want, are going to work out for you or your baby. The key is to try, and if it isnt a fit...move on to the next best thing.

I wasnt ready to wean, but I was ready to stop pumping. So, I weighed my options, picked the one that I felt was best for our family and then gave it a try. For us, it happened to work on the first go round.

Lastly, your baby may out grow the sensitivity to milk. My son was sensitive to dairy products when he was smaller, and so we tabled them for a while. He is still a bit sensitive, so we offer them occassionally so his body learns to tolerate them.

If you havent already, visit the kellymom or askmoxie sites. Both offer sound advise and support.

Best of luck to you! If you want to talk outside of comments, you are welcome to email me directly-- darwinsgirl at thingy yahoo dot com