Soy is a cheap food to raise. It is easy to come by in the United States because the country is the world's largest producer of soybeans. In fact, it is about 34 percent of the soybeans in the world come from the U.S. Soy is even available in baby formula, what was once only dairy-based. About 25% of babies in the country have soy-based formula. You can see how available it is on the shelves at the stores.
Often soy is considered for those who follow a vegan lifestyle. Breast milk will always be the best food for every baby. However, there can be personal, physical, or medical reasons why nursing is not an option for your baby. Even though there is no baby formula that is 100% vegan, a plant-based formula means that there is less cruelty and suffering of animals that goes into the formula.
There is also the case that some babies are allergic to milk. For those little ones who cannot tolerate dairy products, a soy-based baby formula is an option. However, babies who have a milk protein allergy may also not be able to tolerate soy protein. You would have to consult your pediatrician if that is the case.
Even though soy is natural and can be raised through organic farming techniques, there are concerns that parents have regarding soy consumption at an early age.
Phytoestrogens occur naturally in soy. Research is looking at the effects of the plant-based estrogen and if there are any adverse effects. It can lead to developmental delays which can be found in boys around the time of puberty. There are also concerns about the effects of the reproductive health on girls if there is long term exposure, especially during the first few years.
In the first year of life, your baby is growing and developing at a fast rate. Brain development is important, which is why parents opt for organic baby formula to reduce the amount of neurotoxins and synthetic materials that are added in other conventional baby formulas. When it comes to soy-based formula, one of the proteins that is in the plant is trypsin inhibitors. It may inhibit the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Those nutrients are connected to overall growth and development, but especially brain development.
Phytic acid is also known to block the absorption of nutrients that are important to brain development as well as the nervous system. These nutrients include calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Phytic acid can be found in seeds on the exterior, but it is most easily found in soybeans. Another potential side effect of phytic acid is irritation in the digestive tract.
Organic baby formula can be soy free. In some cases, there can be soy lecithin as one of the ingredients as it is an organic emulsifier. If your child is known to be allergic to soy, the proteins that are prevalent in soy lecithin can trigger reactions, so it is important to avoid it.
Hipp, Holle, and Lebenswert baby formulas are generally free of soy products. However, Hipp Stage 3 for toddlers does contain soy lecithin.
If you are not sure about the effects of soy products on your baby's growth and development, speak with your pediatrician or do your own research. While many parents have their opinions, you can find published details from research and observations from sites such as the National Institutes of Health as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.