Transitioning Vegan Toddlers Off of Breastmilk or Formula

Homemade Fortified Almond Milk for Vegan Toddlers @ TheGreenForks.com #vegan

Chances are if you are a parent to a vegan toddler you are often bombarded with questions about where they get certain nutrients…

“But where will he get his calcium from without milk??”

“What about vitamin D deficiency!?”

“Kids need those healthy fats for their brains to grow!”

And if you are NEW to raising your toddler as a vegan, you probably have a few questions yourself.

I know I did.

Probably the biggest question you ask yourself is, “What do I have my baby eat after she is done with breastmilk/formula?” That is a very good question. And it is all going to depend on YOU! How extreme you really want to go with their health, how convenient you want things to be for yourself, how much you can afford to spend, etc.

Homemade Fortified Almond Milk for Vegan Toddlers @ TheGreenForks.com #vegan

There are a couple options. Most parents tend to just transition their children right onto the packaged almond/soy/coconut milks you can buy at the grocery store. A nice, convenient option with a decent price tag. It’s easy enough to buy organic and avoid GMO’s too. BUT! It also has preservatives and thickening agents, and is strained of a lot of nutrients. Others go the homemade route.

I decided to go with homemade and here is why: You can control exactly what your toddler consumes.

I’m talking total nutrient control. You can create a milk to meet your child’s needs exactly as you see fit. Tailor the perfect formula to contain enough protein, fat, calcium, etc. to ease your mind.

After much internet research I came up with my own solution for a homemade milk that would eliminate all my nutrient concerns (with added supplements). The reason for the added supplements is simple- until my toddler has enough teeth to chew a vegan multi-vitamin, I’ve got to be a little creative with things to make sure he is 100% covered.

The nutrients I target are:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B-12

Homemade Fortified Almond Milk-2

These are the most difficult to obtain through a vegan diet, especially for a small child with a limited variety of food consumption.

Soooooooo, for calcium I use DEVA Vegan CAL-MAG PLUS (with added zinc, vitamin D & K, Boron, and Copper). I place 2 tablets in a single batch of my homemade almond milk. He consumes about one batch of milk a day, so he is receiving roughly 2 tablets via his milk.

With his first bottle in the morning I place 7 drops (child-size dosage) of DEVA Omega-3 DHA-EPA derived from algae (lemon flavor). The difference in taste doesn’t seem to even phase him.

After he is done with his morning bottle, I give him a single squirt of The Food Movement Vegan Vitamin D-3 Spray (1,000 IU) and Pure Advantage B-12 Spray (500 mcg). He happily opens his mouth for each.

That is it for supplementation.

But don’t forget all the nutrients he is getting from the actual almonds as well! Loaded with Vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, zinc, more calcium than any other nut, iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, copper, folate, and some B vitamins. Not to mention the plentiful supply of amino acids to build proteins in the body! And did you know that a handful of almonds has as many flavonoid antioxidants as broccoli and green tea??? Milk made from almonds is nothing to scoff at!

Homemade Fortified Almond Milk for Vegan Toddlers @ TheGreenForks.com #vegan

For the actual milk I have TWO ways in which you can prepare it.

I kind of frown upon straining out his almond milk… there is just SO much wasted nutrients and fiber! I’d rather he be able to consume all that the almond has to offer. Lose ZERO fiber, protein, or fat. That is why my #1 method for making his milk is by using almond butter. 

I make my own organic almond butter since it is so expensive to buy already made, but you can certainly use store-bought. It does get pretty tedious making almond butter every few days. The almond butter produces a very creamy milk, that when actually strained through a nut-milk bag, leaves very little behind.

Homemade Fortified Almond Milk1-3

The only problem I have using almond butter is that the almonds aren’t soaked, which leaves the enzyme inhibitors on them. Ideally you could soak, then dehydrate, then make butter, and then make milk out of them. But holy cow! What a long process to be doing every few days…. SO! My solution to that is Method #2- don’t strain the milk made from soaked almonds. Simple enough, but not quite as smooth as the milk made with almond butter.

AND if your toddler is still using a bottle with the small nipple holes- expect clogs. You’re either going to have to strain or bump your child up to sippy cup or cereal spout (I use a cereal spout).

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 11.34.22 AM

See look at all that waste! That should be in your baby’s belly.

As far as sweetener I always use dates. They are an all-natural sweetener with the added benefit of being alkaline forming. But you can always use maple syrup or agave nectar if you’d prefer.

OH! And sometimes I like to add an extra sneaky tablespoon or two of hemp seeds. Hehe. Hemp seeds contain the perfect ratio of Omega-3′s & 6′s for our body. They are also a great source of protein. When you add a minimal amount to the milk, you hardly notice any taste difference AND the kids get the added benefit of those healthy fats! Great for their growing brains!!

*UPDATE: Even Scarlett, my 3-year-old milk-hater, has started drinking this! Thank goodness, because prior to this she wasn’t getting much calcium other than what was in her daily vitamins. Now I can rest assured that she is receiving it from another source as well!*

Use THIS LINK to get $10 off you first purchase @ Vitacost! That is where I buy all my supplements. And in return, I get $10 off as well ; ) Thanks!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Homemade Fortified Almond Milk
Author: 
Serves: makes about 3½ cups (28 ounces)
 
Ingredients
  • METHOD #1:
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ⅓ cup dates, about 8 (or 1-2 tablespoons agave nectar/maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 serving calcium supplement (such as DEVA Cal-Mag Plus)
  • METHOD #2:
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3 cups water
  • ⅓ cup dates, about 8 (or 1-2 tablespoons agave nectar/maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 serving calcium supplement (such as DEVA Cal-Mag Plus)
Instructions
  1. METHOD #1: Place all ingredients into blender and blend until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through milk nut bag or cheesecloth, if desired (but not necessary- I don't). Refrigerate.
  2. METHOD #2: Place almonds in a medium bowl and cover completely with water. Allow to sit on countertop overnight.
  3. Drain and rinse almonds well. Place in blender with water, dates, vanilla, and calcium tablets. Blend well, 1-2 minutes. Strain through milk nut bag of cheesecloth, if desired (but not necessary). Refrigerate.
Notes
Add an extra tablespoon or two of hemp seeds for a boost of healthy fats!

 

 

23 Responses to “Transitioning Vegan Toddlers Off of Breastmilk or Formula”

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  • Kayla June 3, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Thank you for this! This is great! I have been struggling because my 13 month old is losing interest in nursing and has a intolerance to cow’s milk. I havent really wanted to put him on the store bought nut milks because they are just watered down so much and not enough fat! I didn’t even think about fortifying my own milk till now though! So thank you!

  • lmachell June 11, 2014, 12:41 am

    Yeah I know! The store-bought ones are just boiled almonds that have been strained and then watered down and filled with preservatives and gums. I try to only buy them when I have no other option. Definitely try making your own milk! It will be a lot thinner than what you are used to with the store-bought, but it is so much better for you. And your kids will get used to the taste. Mine LOVE it now!

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  • Jill September 22, 2014, 5:39 am

    Hi, I did method #2. I did not want the calcium ablets in it. I just did soak over night, drain and rinse well, put almonds/water/dates in blender and mixed for two minutes. Strained with cheese cloth… I tried a sip after it was blended and it tasted slightly alright. So I refrigerated it thinking that once cooled that it would taste great.
    After 1 hr in the fridge, It had separated. Top layer looked like milk, middle looked like colostrum (if you will), and bottom look kind of fluffy weird like… I shook it up and poured a glass. It was like rotten gross sour milk. What on earth did I do wrong?

  • lmachell September 26, 2014, 1:15 am

    Well, it’s natural for it to separate as it sits. That shouldn’t affect the taste. I don’t know why it would taste rotten or spoiled… Maybe your just not a fan of the slightly bitter taste of raw almonds lol.

  • Nicole February 18, 2015, 6:33 pm

    Hi!

    With method #2 can you add the almond butter in as well?

    Also, how long will this milk last in the refrigerator? Just in case she doesn’t down the whole batch right away, because we are transitioning her to milk and not breastmilk or formula.

    I’m a new mommy and recently vegan (about 7months). My daughter is almost 13months old. Her doctor recommended I give her a multivitamin (poly vi sol). I’m interested in the way you supplement. Was this recommended to you or based on your own research? I am curious, because it seems like a better way to supplement than what was recommended by my daughter pediatrician.

  • lmachell February 21, 2015, 2:13 pm

    Yes, you could add almond milk too. And I think the milk is best within about 5 days. You can definitely tell when it is going bad- starts to smell and taste off… I supplement based on my own research. And honestly, my son is SO super healthy. He has been sick maybe twice and is in the upper 80 percentile for all his growth. I definitely think he has received all the nutrients he has needed.

  • liz April 3, 2015, 10:00 pm

    Hi, my daughter is ten months old today and is drinking formula. Is it a good time to start this transition and do I do it cold turkey?

  • lmachell April 9, 2015, 7:09 am

    I would maybe start transitioning with 1/2 formula and 1/2 almond milk. It will make things easier for her and her body to accept.

  • cinthya June 27, 2015, 5:16 am

    Hi
    I’m curious if the vitamin d3 spray in your picture is safe for children? I have an 11 month old and wasn’t sure if the IU’s in each spray might be too much?

  • lmachell July 21, 2015, 10:18 pm

    I haven’t experienced any problems or side effects with the spray. As far as I can tell it is safe.

  • Cristina July 22, 2015, 4:22 am

    Hi :) Thank you very much for this recipe. I have an one-year old whi has had breastmilk + formula. Since I have a bad opinion about formula, I’m considering transitioning to homemade almond milk. My question is: how long can it be left at room temperature afte a feeding begins? My baby sometimes starts drinking milk after which she changes her mind. After 30 min or so she wants the milk back.. from your experience, what can you tell me?

  • Agathe January 2, 2016, 3:57 am

    The recipe was helpful

  • Archana January 4, 2016, 9:09 pm

    Hello,

    I found your information on nuts to be very helpful, is it safe to give 7 month old different nuts butter in small quantities, there are no nut allergies in my family, my lo has been on solids for the last 2 months, please let me know your thoughts!

    thank you
    Archana

  • lmachell January 27, 2016, 8:39 pm

    Thats a hard one… most ppl say not until they are one. I would er on the side of recommending that as well since I don’t want to be the one to send your child into anaphylactic shock! haha.

  • Ryan February 21, 2016, 8:15 pm

    Hi there.
    I have been curious how much of the nutritional content within the almond actually passes into the water. It seems as if the bulk of the nutrients are likely to remain in the almond meal. Have you researched this?

  • Catie March 9, 2016, 2:54 am

    Hi,
    I am also raising a vegan child. I would not recommend supplementing in this way. This child is getting mega doses of B12 and D. Not only is the D spray much more than a toddler requires, there is also D in the calcium tablets! The B12 is a super mega dose even for adults. While one may argue excess B12 is passed in urine, regular intake of very high doses has been linked to some negative outcomes. Vitamin D at too high of levels can lead to toxicity.
    I would recommend using liquid vitamins that are measured with droppers rather than sprays because if you do choose an adult vitamin, at least you can control how much the child gets so you can give them an appropriate dose. Personally, I use Nordic Naturals veg D3 and give my daughter just over 1/4 the “suggested dose” because the suggested amount is intended for adult requirements. For DHA, I use Nordic Naturals Baby BHA and for B12, I use YogaBody B12 and she gets a single drop every few days which is more than enough to meet her 1mcg/day requirement, especially in addition to my breastmilk.
    PLEASE always do thorough research when choosing supplements for your child.

  • Catie March 9, 2016, 2:58 am

    Also, in response to the person asking about age to introduce nut products. The most recent research shows that earlier introduction actually decreases the risk of allergy. The old guidelines of waiting past 1 year are outdated and should only be followed by people who have significant family history of nut allergies. Anyway, we introduced slowly by first rubbing Peanut oil on baby’s back and watching for skin reaction, then a few days later we put some on her lip, then on her tongue, etc. Apparently, even if a kid is allergic, the first exposure isn’t likely to result in anaphylaxis, but some more mild allergy symptoms.

  • sherina September 26, 2016, 12:49 am

    This is so great thank you! I’ve been reading on how to get my 1yr old onto something other than breast milk all the time. He lines my homemade almond milk but like you I was afraid he wasn’t going to get all he does from me. Now I know what to do. Have you tried or what are your thoughts on giving them homemade hemp milk for protein and omegas? Or a 50/50 blend? Also how did you transition your kiddos? Thanks!

  • Nadia March 23, 2017, 4:33 pm

    Wow thank you for giving so much details on how you make the milk. I dont have a baby yet but plan on ttc next year and because im lactose intolerant i drink almond milk and wanted to find a way to make it at home so when i do have a child they can drink it as well. So thank you for posting this, its one of the best recipes i have found so far.

  • Jessee July 18, 2017, 3:28 am

    I just made this with method #1 and it’s delicious! Love it with chocolate syrup too ;) Thanks a ton!! Now to get my toddler to switch over to this. I feel so good that I’ll have something for my baby too when she’s done breastfeeding.

  • Lilly October 20, 2017, 2:32 am

    I looooove this Milk!!! It’s so tasty but for me I totally cut back on the dates and on the vanilla, I used 1/4 tsp vanilla and two dates and it was super tasty as well :) What I do with the pulp when I do the soaking method is to freeze the pulp and put it in a smoothie the next day ❤️