Drinking Soy Milk

We discovered my son’s milk allergy when he was 9 months old. When even the smallest drop of milk comes in contact with his skin, he immediately breaks out in red, itchy hives. At that time, we started him out with soy-based infant formula. Since then, he’s graduated to soy milk fortified with calcium.

Here in Switzerland, we can easily find soy milk at our local grocery stores and organic (bio) markets. In our small city, Coop and Migros typically carry one or two brands, including organic options. We’ve even found small individual servings of soy milk–like juice boxes, but with soy milk–which is great for traveling.

Possible Soy Milk Risks

Recently, my mother asked if we had done our research on soy milk. She had seen in the news some mention of risks associated with soy consumption. Over the summer, I had also read a blog post suggesting the same thing. So, I did some reading, and here’s a sample of the articles I found on potential soy concerns. A few studies have linked soy to reproductive and thyroid problems, but these articles generally indicate that more research is needed.

Bottom line: These articles raised more questions for me, as opposed to providing a definitive answer about whether to reduce or stop our son’s soy milk consumption. Our pediatrician and allergist in the United States recommended soy-based formula and soy milk, and neither brought up any concerns. For the time being, we’ll continue purchasing organic, non-genetically-modified soy milk. However, I’ll make sure to revisit the soy milk question once we meet with our new allergist.

For those with milk allergies, what do you use as a substitute? What have you been hearing, if anything, from medical professionals about soy milk? Please share your experiences in a comment below or send an email to dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com.

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13 thoughts on “Drinking Soy Milk

  1. Jun says:

    I read some articles and head the news about soy consumption as well.
    I’m not sure about it, though.
    I eat Natto (Smelly sticky soy beans, you know that, right?) everyday.

    Why don’t you try rice milk or almond milk instead of soy milk?
    Have you seen an organic (Bio) brand “enter Bio” products there?

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Hi Jun! Based on what I quick read, fermented soy products, like natto, don’t seem to be the problem. Of course I remember natto. How could I forget?? 😉 It’s the unfermented products, like soy milk, that apparently can block mineral absorption (?). I’m not sure either. I also use soy milk for baking. Almond milk isn’t an option because of my son’s potential tree nut allergy, but I’m going to look for rice milk fortified with calcium next time I’m at the store! Thanks for weighing in on the debate.

  2. Nicole says:

    Our ped in the U.S recommended against soy, primarily because of the potential for hormone mimicking, even though the research is yet inconclusive. She was a very holistic minded MD, and much of her approach was not the norm. Before my son outgrew is dairy allergy, he drank hemp milk in the U.S. Here in CH I found only one rice milk fortified with calcium. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name, but it is Italian and I only every saw it at Manor.

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Nicole, Thanks for the suggestion! I think you had mentioned this to me before, but I wasn’t in the market for rice milk at the time… Now, it sounds like it might be a good idea to check it out. Even though research is inconclusive to date, can’t hurt to mix it up a bit. We may be planning a trip to Manor in the near future! 🙂

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Thanks again for the info. I found calcium-fortified rice milk (I think the same Italian brand you mentioned, Vitariz?) at our nearby gourmet food shop. It’s been working out great for baking. Less fat content than soy (something like 4% vs. 7%). Our allergist appointment is coming up, so I’ll find out more soon…

  3. Heide says:

    My best friend from college’s first daughter is allergic to dairy, soy and tree nuts. From what they found out, the rice milk did not have enough of the good fats in it to be suitable for a toddler. They ended up being able to use a milk substitute from coconuts…not like coconut milk in a can, but actual drinkable coconut milk. Not sure how easy that is to find, however.

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Heide, thanks for sharing this! Yes, sounds like it might be hard to find rice milk with the added calcium and necessary fat. That coconut milk sounds great. I’ll keep doing research to see what’s available here, and we’ll ask our pediatrician and allergist too. Don’t want to be too reactionary and totally cut out soy milk, but want to make sure we’re investigating all the options.

  4. Sharon says:

    Hello, I am moving from the UK to Zurich with my 18 months old baby who is allergic to milk. Here in the UK I am giving her Alpro milk 1+ which is a soy milk with added vitamins and calcium. I understand this brand is not sold in Switzerland. Is there any other brand which sells Soy milk for infants? even for newborns? Thank you very much.

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Hi Sharon,

      I haven’t seen a special soy milk here specifically for newborns or infants. It’s very likely that a pharmacy would carry such a product, and hopefully your allergist/pediatrician can recommend something. In the US, we bought a soy formula for our son and then transitioned to soy milk w/ calcium after his first birthday. In Switzerland, you can find soy milk w/ calcium at both Migros and Coop, two of the big supermarket chains. Small bio/organic shops also have other soy/rice milk options.

      If you think of it, please let me know what you find in Zurich in terms of dairy-free products and allergy-friendly restaurants, etc. This will be helpful to us and so many others! Best of luck with the move. If you have any other questions, I’ll do my best to try and help.

      Many thanks,
      Heddi

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