Milk Alternatives for Babies

Milk Alternatives for Babies

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Van's 10 month doctor's visit was hours away and I was starting to feel the butterflies flurry like I do with every pediatric visit. Not yet a toddler, but looking more developed than an infant, I knew that Van would be experiencing a handful of firsts in next couple of months... first words, first steps and first foods. Exposing Van to a variety of flavors, tastes and cuisines was a no brainer... I want Van to try it all. What I didn't expect was the dogmatic belief from the pediatric community in giving cow's milk to infants as their primary form of calcium. In the main stream pediatric world, there is no alternative that would be as beneficial to the babies as cows milk for calcium, strength and development.  Excuse me?!  Haven't we evolved past this narrow-minded and (what I personally think is) outdated belief system? When I asked  Van's pediatrician about the other options, she looked at me as though I was crazy. I kept on thinking to myself why would I give my child cows mild when both Finian and I don't drink it ourselves, and don't believe in it's health benefits. Once we left the office, I hounded my fellow mothers for information on recommended alternatives to cows milk. All of them reaffirmed that they were following their pediatricians advice and feeding their children cows milk. Since then, Finian and I have been on the hunt to find a healthy non-dairy calcium alternative that will deliver the same amount of calcium to Van as cows milk. Don't get me wrong, I'm not 100% dairy free as you know from reading my past articles, I just don't believe a one year old needs to drink cow's milk on a daily basis. Growing up, my husband had bad respiratory allergies which eventually lead to asthma. He attributed many of his lingering allergies to an overconsumption of dairy, which was much more common when we were growing up.  I, as well had stomach issues as a child and tend to break out on my face if I eat too much dairy. Now, as we are aware of the correlation with dairy and certain cancers as well as diabetes, I am even more motivated to search for calcium rich alternatives that don't come from dairy animals. Our pediatrician informed us that a child between the ages of one to three should get 700 milligrams of calcium a day. At this stage, calcium is very important for their drastically growing and developing baby bodies. Calcium is vital for building strong bones, teeth, promoting nerve and muscle function, helping blood clot and activating the enzymes that convert food into energy. Ok, so there are 300 mg of calcium in one cup of milk. Lets do the numbers...

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Blackstrap Molasses:  2 Tbsp = 400 mg of calcium

Cooked Collard Greens: 1 cup = 357 mg of calcium

Sardines: About 7 fillets =321 mg of calcium

Other Plant Milks (calcium fortified): 8 ounces = 300-500 mg of calcium

Canned Salmon: 1/2 of can (with bones) = 232 mg of calcium

Tofu (processed with calcium sulfate): 4 ounces = 200-420 mg of calcium

Orange Juice (calcium fortified): 8 ounces = 200-420 mg of calcium

Cooked Turnip Greens: 1 cup = 249 mg of calcium

Tofu (processed with nigari): 4 ounces = 130-400 mg of calcium

Tempeh: 1 cup = 184 mg of calcium

Almonds: 1/2 cup = 183 mg of calcium

Cooked Kale: 1 cup = 179 mg of calcium

Cooked Soybeans: 1 cup = 175 mg of calcium

Cooked Bok Choy: 1 cup = 158 mg of calcium

Cooked Mustard Greens: 1 cup = 152 mg of calcium

Tahini: 2 Tbsp = 128 mg of calcium

Cooked Navy Beans: 1 cup = 126 mg of calcium

Almond Butter: 2 Tbsp = 111 mg of calcium

Dried Figs: 8 = 107 mg of calcium

White Beans: 1/2 cup =100 mg of calcium

Sesame Seeds: 1 Tbsp = 88 mg of calcium

Chia Seeds: 1 Tbsp = 80 mg of calcium

Quinoa: 1 cup = 60 mg of calcium

FullSizeRender-19•• Bonus Information: Vitamin D is crucial in the absorption of calcium. It's the yin to calcium's yang. In order to soak up the sun's natural life enhancing vitamin, I suggest taking your baby outside to play in the morning or late in the afternoon for at least 20 minutes at time. Avoid direct sun exposure from 11am-2pm for more than 30 minutes at a time and always make sure to bring a hat and sun block  just in case your little one looks like he or she is getting red. My favorite all natural mineral sunblock is called Coola. Consuming fatty fish, certain mushrooms and egg yolks are also healthy ways to a natural Vitamin D boost.

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