Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants, but it is not always an available option. In cases where the mother is unable to nurse due to illness or if the baby is adopted, the parents have to look for other alternatives to replace breast milk. When it comes to infant nutrition, here are a few ideas regarding the natural next best thing to breast milk.
This is arguably the most popular alternative to breast milk. Cow's milk is a good source of vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, and a host of other nutrients. People have used it in many cultures for centuries.
Soy formula first became available in the 1960s as a breast milk alternative. Soy milk is particularly used for babies who are lactose intolerant--that is, infants who are unable to process the lactose that is naturally present in both breast milk and conventional infant formulas. Doctors recommend soy as an alternative to cow's milk and breast milk because it is high in protein and less allergenic than cow's milk. To produce soy-based infant formula, however, you will have to use high heat to extract the powder as well as use a solution in which to soak it that may have health risks. Some recommend preparing the formula at home, but this can take a lot of time--something which new parents may not have.
Rice milk has more carbohydrates than cow's milk, but less protein and calcium. If you plan to use rice milk as infant formula, doctors usually require supplements. Rice milk also doesn't have lactose and cholesterol, so it is a suitable choice for lactose intolerant babies. It can also be a wise alternative to breast milk, since few children are allergic to this type of infant formula. It is also easy to prepare, because all you need to do is soak plain white rice in room temperature water. (You can also do this overnight in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature.) Then blend the mixture on a high setting for a minute and add vitamin and mineral supplements to it.
Another natural alternative to breast milk is almond milk. Almond milk is a good source of calcium, protein, magnesium, and other minerals. In adults it can reduce cholesterol levels effectively, as well as decrease heart disease risk. For children, almond milk can be a suitable alternative to breast milk because it has 400 percent more nutritional content than cow's milk. Add one cup of peeled and soaked almonds to two pints of water to create a mixture that is nutritionally equivalent to cow's milk. Almond milk, however, does not contain the vitamin B6 present in cow's milk, so you will need to add in supplements such as young coconut milk to compensate for the deficiency.
- Photo Credit baby image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com
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