Can Babies Have Almond Milk? When To Introduce And How To Make

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Almond milk is a derivative of powdered or pasted almonds. This paste or powder is combined with water and then strained to obtain milky white, nutty-flavored liquid (1). Almond milk for babies is a good alternative for infants who are allergic or intolerant to animal milk. This milk is commercially available in different variants but with added ingredients such as micronutrients (calcium and vitamin D), thickening, sweetening, and flavoring agents, and preservatives.

Most people use almond milk as a substitute for animal milk in preparing sweets and savories. But you may wonder if almond milk is safe for a baby?

Read this post to explore the nutritional value of almond milk compared to cow’s milk. Also included in this post are a few healthy almond milk recipes for toddlers.

Can Babies And Toddlers Consume Almond Milk?

Babies older than 12 months should drink fortified or whole cow milk (2). However, you may serve fortified almond milk to your toddler as a beverage, not as an alternative to dairy milk.

Generally, almond milk is not recommended as a replacement for breast milk and dairy milk for children below 24 months of age (3). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), plant-based milk, such as almond milk, may lack essential nutrients, such as vitamin D, protein, and calcium. Except for soy milk, the academy does not recommend plant-based milk as a replacement for dairy milk (4).

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to the first six months (5). Breastfeeding, along with solid food, should continue for at least 12 months. If breastfeeding is not possible, fortified infant formula is advised (6) (7).

If the baby has a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, a hypoallergenic, soy-based formula is recommended (8). Vegan parents and parents with children who have dairy milk intolerances should speak to a pediatrician before picking a suitable alternative to dairy milk (9).

Nutritional Value Of Almond Milk vis-a-vis Cow Milk

Almond milk contains less energy, protein, fat, and vitamin D per 100 grams than cow milk and soy milk (10). Even when fortified, almond milk has less protein, fat, and vitamin D than whole cow milk (11). Therefore, it is not recommended for children with protein-energy malnutrition, vitamin D deficiency and those at risk.

Therefore, experts recommend using whole cow milk while weaning a toddler since it can provide an optimum amount of protein and fat. However, you may serve almond milk to the toddler as a beverage or as part of food preparations.

Are There Any Health Benefits Of Almond Milk For Toddlers?

Unsweetened, fortified almond milk served as part of a well-balanced diet may offer the benefits of almonds to the toddler. For instance, almonds have high amounts of MUFA (mono-unsaturated fatty acids) and essential nutrients, such as potassium, zinc, manganese, and vitamin-E (1) (12). Almond milk could be a source of these nutrients for toddlers.

Almond milk also contains bioactive compounds that could impart health-benefiting properties, such as immunostimulation, over time. Additionally, whole almonds can be a choking hazard for toddlers (13), and almond milk could be a safer alternative if your toddler desires to eat almonds.

What Are The Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives?

If almond milk isn’t an option for your toddler, you may consider other plant-based milk, such as rice, oats, hemp, coconut, soy, and hazelnut milk. Consult a pediatrician or registered dietitian/nutritionist before choosing a non-dairy milk alternative. They can help you select the right plant-based milk after considering your toddler’s age, health, and dietary needs.

Precautions To Take While Using Almond Milk For Toddlers

  1. Consult a pediatrician before using almond milk for your toddler, especially if there is a family history of nuts allergy. An individual with a tree nut allergy can’t consume almond milk because it can trigger allergic reactions (14).
  1. Do not use homemade almond milk for toddlers as it lacks essential nutrients. Instead, buy unsweetened, fortified almond milk from a reputable brand. You may use homemade almond milk in some almond milk recipes, though.
  1. Check the nutrition facts label of the milk The label should give information about the product’s nutritional value, added ingredients, such as flavoring and other additives. Stay clear of variants that contain high amounts of added sugar. If you are unsure about choosing the right almond milk brand for your toddler, consult a pediatrician or certified nutritionist.
  1. Babies older than one year need almond milk only as a drink and not a meal. Serve almond milk as a beverage or as part of food preparations, such as porridge or yogurt.

In the next section, we share some simple and healthy almond milk recipes you can try for your toddler.

Almond Milk Recipes For Toddlers

If your doctor gives you a nod of approval, you may consider trying the following nutritious almond milk recipes for your toddler.

1. Almond milk yogurt

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 cup almonds (blanched)
  • 1 pack non-dairy starter culture

How to prepare: 

  1. Blend almonds and water into a smooth liquid using a fine-blade blender. Strain the liquid into a bowl through a cheesecloth. Set aside.
  1. Measure the starter’s quantity, as mentioned in the instructions on the package, and add it to the almond milk. Mix well and put the bowl into a yogurt maker for fermentation.
  1. If you do not have a yogurt maker, place the bowl into a Dutch oven and store it in a warm place for four to six hours. Later, store it in the refrigerator for an hour.
  1. After an hour, strain the yogurt into a fresh bowl using a cheesecloth. Set the bowl aside for an hour. Do not keep for long as the yogurt may turn sour.
  1. Add fruit mash or chopped fruits to this recipe and serve it to your toddler.

2. Almond milk smoothie

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup spinach (chopped)
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ avocado (diced)
  • 1tsp fig puree

How to prepare:

  1. Blend all the ingredients into a smooth, lump-free liquid. Ensure no lumps are present.
  1. Transfer the smoothie into a cup and feed the baby.
  1. You can add more seasonal fruits and a teaspoon of chia seeds to this recipe for older toddlers.

3. Creamy almond avocado dip

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 ripe avocado (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove  (minced)
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper powder

How to prepare: 

  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until a smooth paste forms.
  1. You can add more almond milk if the dip seems too thick.
  1. Serve with boiled veggies and healthy finger foods to your toddler.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does almond milk make babies constipated?

No. Generally, almond milk is considered one of the non-constipating foods (15).

2. Can almond milk cause digestive problems in babies?

Although almond milk is not believed to cause any digestive problems, the presence of carrageenan used as an emulsifier in some brands of almond milk may cause problems with digestion. Hence it is recommended to check the label before buying (16).

3. Does almond milk make my baby gain weight?

Almond milk is known to be a cholesterol-free substitute for milk. Hence, typically, it should not create an unhealthy weight gain (17).

Almond milk for babies is a rich source of calcium and helps develop strong bones and muscles. However, giving almond milk to your baby as a replacement for breastmilk or formula milk is not advised. If your baby is allergic to almond milk, you could give them coconut or soy milk. Also, consult a pediatrician to know the safety and possible side effects of almond milk or any other derived milk before including it in your little one’s diet.

Key Pointers

  • Babies below 24 months should not consume almond milk as its nutritional value is lesser than cow and soy milk.
  • Almond milk can help improve immunity and is a better alternative to whole almonds, posing a choking hazard.
  • Some other alternatives to non-dairy milk are coconut and hazelnut milk, but you should consult a pediatrician beforehand.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Sai Kranthi Vanga and Vijaya Raghavan; How well do plant-based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk?; NCBI
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756203/#:~:text=Almond%20milk
  2. Fortified Cow’s Milk and Milk Alternatives; CDC
    https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/cows-milk-and-milk-alternatives.html
  3. Transitioning Your Baby to Cow’s Milk; Unlock Food; Dietitians of Canada
    https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Infant-feeding/Transitioning-your-baby-to-cow%E2%80%99s-milk.aspx
  4. Recommended Drinks for Young Children Ages 0-5; Healthy Children; AAP
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Recommended-Drinks-for-Young-Children-Ages-0-5.aspx
  5. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere; WHO
    https://www.who.int/news/item/15-01-2011-exclusive-breastfeeding-for-six-months-best-for-babies-everywhere
  6. Do’s and Don’ts for Baby’s First Foods; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/dos-and-donts-for-babys-first-foods
  7. Cow’s milk – infants; U.S. National Library of Medicine
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002448.htm
  8. Your baby’s first solid foods; NHS
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/babys-first-solid-foods/#:~:text=From%202%20years%20old%2C%20if
  9. Use of Soy Protein-Based Formulas in Infant Feeding; AAP
    https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/121/5/1062/73488/Use-of-Soy-Protein-Based-Formulas-in-Infant?autologincheck=redirected
  10. Elvira Verduci et al.; Cow’s Milk Substitutes for Children: Nutritional Aspects of Milk from Different Mammalian Species
    Special Formula and Plant-Based Beverages; NCBI
  11. Cow’s Milk Alternatives: Parent FAQs; Healthy Children; AAP
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/milk-allergy-foods-and-ingredients-to-avoid.aspx
  12. Swati Sethi et al.; Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review; NCBI
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5069255/
  13. Choking Hazard Safety; Nationwide Children’s Hospital
    https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/health-wellness-and-safety-resources/education-store/choking-hazard-safety
  14. Tree Nut Allergy; Food Allergy Research And Education
    https://www.foodallergy.org/living-food-allergies/food-allergy-essentials/common-allergens/tree-nut
  15. Bowel management programme; Boston Children’s Hospital
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/almonds/
  16. Problem with dairy: Daily solutions; UMass Chan Medical School
    https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/blog/blog-posts/2021/5/problems-with-dairy-daily-solutions/
  17. Almonds; Harvard T.H. Chan
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/almonds/
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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different... more

Moloko Mehlape

(MSc Dietetics)
Moloko Mehlape is a registered dietitian in private practice with special interest in nutrition education, sports nutrition, weight and chronic disease management. She is a philanthropist passionate about making a positive impact in public health through nutrition. Dt. Mehlape has completed extensive formal education and training, and holds qualifications BSc Dietetics (Hons) - Medunsa, MSc Dietetics from the University of... more

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