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Is Soy Infant Formula Safe?
I am a vegan and unfortunately, I'm not able to breastfeed my baby. I know that breast milk is the best thing I could possibly feed her, but it's not an option. How do you feel about soy infant formula? I don't want to feed her cow's milk, but I have to pick what's healthiest for her. What do you recommend?
I understand where you are coming from; you want what's best for your baby and you'll do whatever it takes to figure that out, even if it means sacrificing your beliefs to make her healthy. Sometimes, for some women, breastfeeding just is not an option.
Have you looked into breast milk banks? In case you've never heard of them, I know it sounds a bit creepy to even think about using another woman's milk for your child. But, think about it, what's grosser-- the pus-filled, engorged, bleeding, covered-in-feces cow's udders filling your infant formula with countless chemicals, fertilizers, antibiotics, fungicides and herbicides, or another woman's clean breast milk that has been tested for safety? It's unusual and we tend to shy away from things we aren't used to hearing about, but it's truly the next best thing to your own breast milk.
If you think it might be an option for you, check out the National Milk Bank (www.nationalmilkbank.org) for more details. Granted, you will have to pay for this breast milk, so you can expect it to be more expensive than using your own, but again, it's the next best option, and not much more than buying formula.
As for the next, next best option, I would say that's soy infant formula. Quick note, do not use plain soy milk for infants. Soy infant formula is completely different, with a totally different formula that is safe for babies. Soy milk is deficient in nutrients for babies and if you feed it exclusively, you will likely starve your infant.
Articles written decades ago warned about possible dangers of soy formula, and those warnings have remained in so many mother's minds, but fortunately, more recent research shows that there the worries about manganese levels in soy formula were unfounded. Soy infant formula is safe and balanced in nutrients and you can confidently feed it to your baby if you cannot breastfeed. I would certainly choose it over cow's milk formula if I had to pick because of all the problems associated with consuming dairy products.