Vegan Formula For Baby

One option to consider is Neocate Infant. This is an amino acid-based formula and is one of the best dairy-free soy-free baby formulas. Other amino acid-based formulas do not have soy as the main ingredient as soy-based formulas do, but they still contain some soy.

The Neocate Infant formula is a soy-free, amino acid-based formula that can be a great option to consider. Other amino acid-based formulas do not have soy as the main ingredient as soy-based formulas do, but they still contain some soy.

Neocate Infant is one of the best dairy-free soy-free baby formulas on the market today. Neocate Infant contains no corn and is low in lactose, making it safe for babies with special dietary needs.

If you are worried about your baby being allergic to both dairy and soy, Neocate Infant is a great choice. This amino acid-based formula is a great alternative to dairy.

Infants with allergies may need a special formula to get the nutrition they need. Many formulas contain soy, but there are other options as well. One option is Neocate Infant. It’s an amino acid-based formula and is dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free, making it perfect for babies with multiple food allergies. Another alternative is Enfamil A+ Bee Smart®, which uses honey as its main ingredient in this milk-free formula option.

Soy-based formulas are not recommended for your child because soy is high in phytoestrogens and this can negatively affect a child’s reproductive system. The safest way to feed your child is with an amino acid-based baby formula without dairy and soy (Neocate Infant).

If you are looking for an alternative to soy-based baby formulas, Neocate Infant might be a good option. Some infants may prefer this formula, as it is less likely to cause constipation than soy-based formulas. This soy-free formula is also more easily digested than regular soy formulas and can be used in some cases of lactose intolerance.

Homemade Vegan Baby Formula

As a vegan, the best way to feed your baby is with breast milk, but this isn’t possible for everyone.

If you’re not able to breastfeed for whatever reason, you can still raise your baby as a vegan. But, it’s important that you do your research and plan carefully to ensure that all of his or her nutritional needs are met.

Vegan baby formula exists, but it might not be the best option. Read on for all the information on vegan baby milk substitutes, so that you can decide on the best way to feed your baby.

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vegan baby milk

Warning: It’s important to contact a healthcare professional before making any changes to your baby’s diet

Is there a vegan baby formula?

There are currently two brands of vegan baby formula in the UK – Bebe Mandorle Bébé M and Prémibio Prémiriz. These are both 100% plant-based with no animal-derived ingredients whatsoever. There are also dairy-free formulas that are mostly plant-based.

Bébé M

Bebe Mandorle’s Bébé M Follow-on Formula for babies aged 6 months and over is available to buy in the UK. However, the Stage 1 formula for 0-6 months is tricky to get hold of any must be shipped from Europe.

Bebe M Follow on milk

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Prémiriz

Prémibio Prémiriz infant formula is available in three stages for babies from birth to 356 months. It’s a French brand and the packaging is all in French, but it can be delivered to the UK when ordered online.

Premiriz infant formula

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Vegan Vs Dairy-Free Formula

Aside from the two vegan baby formula brands that both come from France, there are some dairy-free infant formulas that are widely available in the UK.

These aren’t 100% vegan as they contain vitamin D3 which is made using lanolin from sheep’s wool. However, many vegans find that they are a suitable alternative to breast milk for their vegan babies.

If you want to feed your vegan baby with formula, you should weigh up the pros and cons of vegan baby milk versus dairy-free baby milk:

Vegan baby formulaDairy-free baby formula
100% veganContains lanolin from sheep’s wool
Only two brands are availableMany brands to choose from
Must be ordered onlineWidely available in the UK
ExpensiveRelatively inexpensive

For many vegan parents, using a small amount of oil from sheep’s wool is the lesser of the two evils when compared to the environmental costs of shipping baby formula across the world.

What milk do vegan babies drink?

Most vegan babies drink breast milk as this is 100% vegan. If breastfeeding isn’t possible, then other options include expressing milk with a breast pump, using donor breast milk, vegan baby formula or dairy-free baby formula.

Babies over 12 months of age can drink most kinds of unsweetened plant-based milk including soy, oat or almond milk as part of a well-balanced diet.

breastfeeding is vegan

Can you get vegan baby milk?

The best milk for a vegan baby is breastmilk. If breastfeeding is not possible, then expressed milk from the mother or from a donor may be used. It is possible to buy vegan baby formula milk, although many vegan parents prefer to use a dairy-free formula that may contain a small amount of lanolin from sheep’s wool as this is more widely available.

The milk options for vegan babies are:

  1. Breastfeeding
  2. Expressed breast milk
  3. Donor breast milk
  4. Vegan baby formula
  5. Dairy-free baby formula (not 100% vegan)

Now, let’s look at these options in more detail so that you can decide which is the best option for your baby…

1. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is generally the healthiest option for all babies, whether vegan or not. However, despite our best intentions, it isn’t always possible.

If you are currently pregnant and planning to breastfeed your baby, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case that doesn’t work out for you.

2. Expressing breast milk

The next route to try for many mothers who want to breastfeed but can’t is to express milk with a breast pump and feed it to the baby using a bottle.

Expressing milk requires dedication as it can be twice as time-consuming as breastfeeding. Each feed involves a routine of taking a bottle of breast milk from the fridge, warming it up, feeding the baby, expressing milk for the next feed then cleaning and sterilising the breast pump and bottles.

Breast pump parts

While expressing breast milk for every feed can be hard work, many vegan mums who are unable to breastfeed find that it’s the best option that works for them.

3. Donor breast milk

Donor milk comes from mothers who have an over-supply of milk, who wish to continue producing milk after their child is weaned, or who have sadly lost their baby.

Donor milk is given in order of priority, so depending on how much is available in your area, it may only be available for babies who have certain medical conditions. Also, donor milk is often pasteurised, which will affect the nutritional benefit.

You’ll find more information on milk donation from La Leche League.

4. Vegan baby formula

Currently, vegan baby milk formula is available from only two brands, both of which are based in continental Europe. These are Premiriz and Bebe Mandorle.

Whilst some parents have been able to have these shipped as far as the United States and Australia, this can be incredibly expensive and not great for your carbon footprint. Using a brand of baby formula that isn’t widely available is risky because there is always the potential for an interruption in supply.

If your baby is under six months old and you plan to feed him or her with any type of formula aside from the standard first infant formula you should first seek the advice of your midwife or health visitor.

5. Dairy-free baby formula

Many vegans who choose to formula feed their babies opt for a dairy-free soy-based baby milk formula. These contain vitamin D3 which is made using lanolin, a waxy substance extracted from the wool of sheep.

Whilst dairy-free baby formulas aren’t 100% vegan, the lanolin is present in such small amounts that this may be an acceptable option for many vegan parents to consider.

It’s strongly recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before deciding which is the best infant formula milk for your baby.

baby bottle

What is dairy-free baby formula made from?

Most dairy-free baby formulas are made from soya beans. There are also some dairy-free baby formulas that are made from corn, coconut, almond and rice protein. Dairy-free infant formulas also have all of the added vitamins and minerals that you would find in a cows’ milk-based formula.

The Best Dairy-Free Baby Formulas

The most popular brand of dairy-free formula milk in the UK is SMA WYSOY. This is suitable for babies from birth to 18 months and is available at most large supermarkets.

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Is soy baby formula safe?

The nutrition and safety of baby formulas are strictly regulated. While soy-based infant formula is considered to be safe, it is not suitable for every baby and so it should only be used on the advice of a qualified medical professional.

There are some concerns about the fact that soya contains phytoestrogens. These are found naturally in soya beans but are similar in structure to the female hormone oestrogen. Some people may worry the development of the reproductive systems of babies who drink only soya infant formula could be affected.

Also, because soya formula contains sugar, it’s more likely to harm a baby’s teeth as they emerge.

Soy formula isn’t for babies who were born prematurely, have low birth weights, kidney problems or allergies. So, you should only use dairy-free infant formula under medical supervision.

Further reading:

Is there a soy-free vegan baby formula?

Soy-free and dairy-free baby formulas are hard to come by and aren’t available globally. One option to consider is Neocate Infant. This is an amino acid-based formula and is one of the best dairy-free soy-free baby formulas.

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Other amino acid-based formulas do not have soy as the main ingredient as soy-based formulas do, but they still contain some soy.

For more information on the various types of baby formulas, you should consult the NHS website.

Homemade Vegan Baby Formula

Whilst it may be tempting to look up vegan baby formula recipes online and consider making your own, please never do this. It’s just not safe.

Commercially-produced infant formulas are developed by scientists and undergo rigorous testing to ensure their safety. If you try to do it yourself at home, there’s a huge potential for error with imprecise measurements, unsafe ingredients and the potential for contamination with bacteria.

Further reading: Why homemade baby formula isn’t safe

homemade infant formula

Is it healthy for a baby to be vegan?

For the first six months of their life, breastfed vegan babies will eat exactly the same as non-vegan babies. After six months, it’s important that parents pay extra attention to their baby’s diet to ensure that they receive all the nutrients they need.

It’s particularly important that vegan babies take in enough vitamin B12, iodine, omega-3, iron, calcium, protein and calories. This can be achieved by offering a healthy balanced diet along with some supplements.

Further reading: Vegetarian and vegan babies and children

Should young babies be vegan?

For the first six months of life, all babies who are exclusively breastfed will eat the same vegan-friendly diet of breastmilk.

However, if breastfeeding isn’t possible, then parents must decide what the next best option should be.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude— as far as is possible and practicable — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals”

Therefore, if it is not possible or practical to breastfeed your baby, then it is entirely okay to feed them with cows’ milk formula. You can still bring your child up as vegan after six months of age.

Is Plant Based Formula Good For Babies

There is quite a lot of controversy around soya infant formula and at the moment it’s not recommended for babies under 6 months of age. 

In 2019 the British Dietetic Association updated their guidance on the use of soya infant formula as new research has come to light.

In this blog I’ll explain what all the fuss is about, and actually what to feed your vegan baby if you are looking for an alternative to breastmilk.

Can you buy vegan baby formula?

In the UK, no you can’t!  

In the UK there is no 100% vegan baby formula and that is because even the soya based formula on the market has ingredients taken from animals.  

At the time of writing, there is only one soya based formula widely available in the UK which is SMA WySoy and this isn’t suitable for babies under 6 months. When I contacted SMA they were able to tell me that the vitamin D in their formula was sourced from lanolin from the wool of living sheep.  

The other ingredient in formula which is usually animal based, is the essential omega-3 fatty acid DHA however in SMA WySoy this is sourced from algae (seaweed) and funghi (mushrooms).

I’m often asked whether formulas prescribed for babies with milk allergies are vegan (hypoallergenic amino acid formula) as they are dairy free, but these types of formulas use other non-plant based ingredients as a source of some of the nutrients, so these are not vegan either.

The only way to feed your baby a truly vegan diet is by breastfeeding them. The next best option is to look at the soya formula WySoy if this is right for your family.

What about outside of the UK?

There is a truly vegan formula, Premiriz Infant Formula, produced by the French company called Premibio.  

This formula is based on rice milk and uses vegan sources of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. I have noticed that some families are choosing to import this formula into the UK although this is very expensive.

Rice milk contains a naturally occurring compound called inorganic arsenic [1] which is not suitable for children under 4 ½ years of age as their bodies are too immature to process it. In a recent review, rice based formulas were found to have low levels of inorganic arsenic with levels being similar to that of standard infant formula in the UK. [2]  

The UK hasn’t updated their recommendations yet but who knows what’s coming!

   Meet your very own children’s nutritionist

Why can’t newborns have soya based formula?

Research into the use of soya formula in the early 2000’s found some concern over the side effects when it was used for a long period of time.

Unusual testosterone levels in male marmoset monkeys were identified, and there was worry about potential sexual developmental issues associated with infants fed soy formula. [3]

An increase in long, heavy periods in adult women who were given soya formula as a baby. [4]

As a precaution, the NHS advises that babies should not have soya infant formulas under 6 months of age but this can be given after 6 months when weaning has started and milk is no longer the sole source of nutrition. 

A baby being bottle fed by his mother while he looks at her

What does newer research say?

Newer research suggests that parents are choosing soya formula anyway as they believe there may be future health benefits for their children due to the phytooestrogen content. 

However a large review found that there is no evidence of any health benefits and no real medical need for the use of soya based infant formula and so it remains that it should only be used in exceptional circumstances under strict dietetic supervision where there are no alternatives. [5]

Why specifically under 6 months?

It’s a precautionary measure, but if babies are fed soya based formula exclusively in the first 6 months of life, they will be consuming a very high dose of ‘phytoestrogens’ in relation to their size. The effect of the phytoestrogens appears to cause permanent changes between 4-6 months of age.

Also, if you happen to be reading this because your baby has cows milk protein allergy (CMPA), it’s thought that between 30-50% of these babies may also be sensitive to the protein in soy, meaning they would also react to the soy in soya based formula. [6]

Soya-based formulas are also not recommended for premature infants as there is some evidence that they don’t grow as well as when compared to consuming a cows milk based formula. [7] but, it’s important to note here that the cows milk based formulas used for premature infants are usually made to have more calories to support the additional nutritional needs of these babies.

What are Phytoestrogens

Let’s break the word down:

  • ‘Phyto’ actually means plant in Greek. 
  • ‘Estrogen’, which you might have heard of before, is a female hormone that regulates a lot of functions in both men and women, but mainly reproductive functions. 

Therefore ‘Phytoestrogens’ are ‘plant-estrogens’, substances which are found naturally in plants, and are available to us in a wide range of everyday foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils and some grains. 

Soya beans contain more phytoestrogens than other foods. [8] Whilst they are natural, we still need to be careful with the amount that babies and children eat. Much of the research into phytoestrogens and their effect on our health is conflicted – some studies say it’s good for us while others say that it is potentially bad for us. 

It’s important to be aware that a lot more research is needed in this area as we don’t fully understand the full extent of what phytoestrogens do. 

Twins laying on a blanket on the floor and bottle feeding themselves

What are the exceptional circumstances when babies can have soya infant formula?

There are instances when there is a need to give babies under 6 months soya-based formula:

Firstly, vegan mothers who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed may consider soya based formula as an acceptable alternative. However, remember this is not truly vegan as the vitamin D comes from sheep’s wool. 

Secondly, babies with cows milk protein allergy who repeatedly refuse their specialist formula (called extensively hydrolysed or amino acid formula) due to its bitter taste, and without a formula would not survive. [9]

Finally, there are a few medical conditions such as galactosaemia, where the use of a soya based formula is the only option. 

Using Soya Based Infant Formula after 6 months 

The guidance changes once a baby turns 6 months and this is when soya-based formulas CAN be given.

This is because the dose of phytoestrogens in relation to your baby’s size is smaller, because they have grown. 

In addition, your baby’s organ systems are more mature so there is reduced risk of any lasting changes.

There used to be thought that soya based formula would increase the risk of your baby developing a peanut allergy. However, research has not been able to verify this.

What else should you know before choosing a soya based formula?

All infant formulas in the UK, including soya ones are strictly regulated and so you can be assured they contain the exact nutritional requirements babies need.

If after reading this blog you are still unsure whether a soya formula is right for your baby, you may also want to consider an organic cows or goats milk based infant formula. 

These formulas are made from milk from animals that are kept in higher welfare conditions.  The soil association has very strict standards for animals that are used to farm organic products.  

There are now multiple baby formula brands that have an organic range such as Kendamil, Aptamil, Hipp and SMA to name a few.

Summary

There is no truly vegan baby formula available in the UK. Soya is the next best thing but it’s not recommended for babies less than 6 months old. More research is needed into the long term effects of phytoestrogen exposure in young babies and whether it is safe for them to have. We still don’t have all the answers.

Nutritionally, the most suitable form of milk for most infants is breast milk as breast milk adapts to provide your baby with everything they need when they need it. 

There are so many different types of formulas out there and I understand that parents can find it confusing.  

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