Well researched and complex "milk" questions - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-11-2010, 09:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I know this isn't strictly about food, but I'm not quite sure where the nutrition experts in the Mothering Community lurk :). And we are vegetarian! I've been thinking long and hard about milk issues for my little one, and doing a ton of research, and I need some help here from you smart mamas!


I know this post is long and not all of it will apply to everyone's situation, but I'm hoping there will be some thoughtful answers and that this different parts of this post in the archives might help other mamas deciding what to do ... so I'm including my different research and different thoughts.


I also have a table, lol, comparing all of the different milks (hemp, almond, soy, rice, cow's, goat's, etc. -- fat, protein, sugars, fiber, etc. so if anyone wants to see that, email me ... I'm not sure how to upload it.


My unique situation is that my baby never latched and I've been pumping all of her breastmilk. Fast forward to six months and my supply dipped. I began supplementing with formula (about 10%). Each month I had a slight dip more, and by 11 months she was getting 50% pumped BM and 50% formula.


I was so eager to dump the formula at a year. It scares with with all of its chemically stuff.


I thought I would just replace the formula with ... rice milk. Or soy milk. Or I don't know. I thought a smart friend who researches well would tell me what to do. So now she is 13 months and I've kind of been winging it which is so not like me. I usually research like crazy. And the more I find out the more confused I get. Here are the facts, theories, and musings, as I see them:


ONE: I only pump 10-16 ounces a day of breastmilk right now. Since she was previously consuming about 30 ounces of liquidy stuff (breastmilk and formula) that has X amount of calories, protein, fast, etc. I feel like I’m tricking her body I suddenly giver her white liquidy stuff that’s a third of the calories and protein per ounce as the normal white liquidy stuff – that seems like that can’t be good. Her little belly can only hold so much and her body known to suckle and drink for dense nutrition. Almond and rice milk scare me for that reason (the unsweetened kinds have about 50 or 60 calories, as opposed to 150, etc.). I don't know if there's actual research on this, but intuitively it seems like a not great and trickster sort of move for a little 13 month old.

TWO: So, just FYI, what I am doing right now makes so real sense but it's influenced by the above. I give her rice milk, or sometimes a combination of rice and almond, "supplemented" with a scoop of formula. So she gets 1/2 as much formulas as she used to get (instead of one scoop for 2 ounces of water, I use one scoop per 4-5 ounces of rice or rice/almond milk). I'm neither free from the gross formula, nor doing something that makes total logical sense. I am still eager to get off of the syntheticness of formula.

THREE: In terms of analysis of actual milks, they all seem to have pros and cons.

*Goat's is closest breastmilk, but I can neither get raw nor organic in my Los Angeles neighborhood (and if I could, I wonder if cost would be a factor). And even organic, if it's a large farm, I believe contain hormones the goat's are given for breeding on schedule.

*Cow's is the second closest to goat's but I'm a little biased against it. For well established reasons and I just think it's a little hard on the digestive system. I think I would probably do it after two-years of age or so. Probably raw, organic cow's milk, which I can easily find here.

*Rice, almond, and hemp have good fats but much less protein and calories (unsweetened)

*I'm intrigued with making my own almond milk and using more almonds so it's richer. But then on the Organic Pastures website they have a scary bit about how supposedly raw almonds are really pasteurized and only they have really and truly real and healthy raw almonds, so then I think I would feel compelled to buy theirs and things would get prohibitively expensive. AND, it still wouldn't be as caloric or protein rich as BM/formula.

*Soy milk scares me for the potential hormone disruptor. We are vegetarians, so by nature we will have a lot of soy in our diet -- tofu, etc. I have read that the more processed soy tends to be the bigger problem, so my instinct is to avoid soymilk and save our soy consumption for tofu.

FOUR: I do give her lots of plain, full-fat yogurt which she loves, so I'm tempted to just do water and the 10-16 ounces I pump and water. BUT I plan to stop pumping by 18 months, and she still really craves the bottle and the way that gives her nutrition. I intuitively feel she still needs a BM equivalent, but I'm not sure for how long. Sometimes I just try plain ricemilk and she's fine with it. But again, see ONE.

FIVE: think ease is a little bit of a factor for me. I’m a single mom and we never latched so I’ve been exclusively pumping all of her breast milk. AND she was a super colicky baby. I want to give her the best nutritionally, but I’m eager for things to feel more “easy” thus I’m reluctant to implement some of my more sophisticated ideas such as:

                  -Keeping track of the amount of the food she consumes daily and checking out how much protein and fat she’s had (probably the two things I worry about the most) and then supplementing with whatever type of milk or supplements in the milk make sense depending on what she’s eaten (i.e. a fatty milk if she's not chosen to eat the avocado on her plate, or a proteiny milk if she's not chosen the yogurt or tofu).

                  -Making my own almond or peanut, etc. milk – this is hard in that’s it’s highly unportable. I can’t get little containers with straws like I can with rice milk; no one marks the date for me, so I have to estimate how long it’s good for, I have to find a high quality source of raw almonds, as listed above, etc. Plus I still might have to add stuff to make it nutritionally ideal.

                  -Using a base milk – such as Trader Joe’s unsweetened rice, and adding flax or hemp oil and some sort of protein – I’ve seen the suggestion of whey powder – easier to digest than milk – but I’m not sure if there’s a good quality organic source. This seems more do-able than making my own from nuts, as it’s just opening containers and pouring in stuff … but … it’s still not super portable. I might go for this if I were convinved it made the best sense.


That's it folks! I hope future searchers benefit from the thoroughness and that I have not inundated all of you. Mostly I hope future searchers and particularly myself :) benefit from the awesome answers that I often see on the Mothering boards. Thanks so much mamas!



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#2 of 8 Old 12-18-2010, 01:02 AM
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I had a rather similar situation with my DD.  She couldn't latch and I pumped everything, but had to start supplementing at 8 months as my supply kept dropping.  I used both soy formula and human milk (via Milkshare) to make it to 12 months when I stopped pumping and tried to figure out what to do next with many of the same questions you are having.  I kept wondering about making my own formula (since DD seemed to have a soy allergy), but was quite afraid of screwing her up nutritionally.  We are also vegan, so cow or goat milk wouldn't have worked for us.  Now DD is newly 2 and we have it down perfectly.  I don't consider her drinks as nutritionally necessary and this makes it soooo much easier.  DD likes to eat and so her nutrition comes through her food and green smoothies, with drinks of almond milk (at nap and bed time) or water whenever she wants.


I think that you don't need to worry so much since your DD will be getting your milk for at least the next 5 months or so.  And even 10 ounces will have all sorts of great nutrition.  On days when you think that your DD might not have had enough calories/fat/protein - you can always "enrich" your milk of the day.  Throw a banana or other fruit, some coconut butter, nut/seed butter into the blender with your milk and your daughter will happily drink it up.  I always buy the unsweetened milks and add maple syrup on occasion.


With tracking all the food intake, calories, etc., your DD will be fine as long as you make sure that every bite of food counts nutritionally.  For instance, since we are vegan I don't want to fill my DD's tummy up on foods that aren't densely nutritious.  Seeds or nuts are ground into her food.  Hummus w/carrots are snacks instead of crackers... you get the idea!  And since my DD prefers to gulp rather than chew her food, I often mix in blended/ground things so that her body can more easily absorb the nutrients.  You could also take the approach of making a great drink/special food with all sorts of fats and proteins in it for breakfast and then you won't have to worry so much if she doesn't eat certain foods later in the day.  We often do a morning bowl of oatmeal with all sorts of additions - today's was flax oil, ground sesame seeds and blueberries.


To balance out the price factor with choosing a milk, maybe you could rotate the milks.  This would also help with nutrition as she wouldn't be overly dependent on any one milk.  BTW, homemade almond milk is amazingly delicious.  Homemade milks are a little harder in terms of portability, but if your daughter becomes used to water as her out of the house drink, this becomes a non-factor.  Sometimes, just to get my DD to drink a little more liquid on days when plain water isn't cutting it, I squeeze some lemon juice or juice from about 1/2 of an orange into her water and add just a touch of maple syrup.  These types of drinks don't go bad when the weather is warm, so I just fill up her water bottle and take it with us for the day.


Good luck and congratulations on pumping for 13+ months!  That is an amazing accomplishment.


Heather, veg*n mama to A (4), S (2),and Shiso the Cat
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#3 of 8 Old 12-18-2010, 01:38 PM
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I was a low supply mama. My daughter nursed, I just produced a little bit less milk than she needed. Though I was in the process of transitioning to a dairy-free diet, I did give my daughter cow's milk from the cleanest, most humane sources that I could find, yogurt, cheese and fluid milk. Once she turned two, we began the process of transitioning it out. At 5, she's vegan by her own choice, she decided to stop eating cheese right before her 5th birthday. She did nurse until she was almost 3. 

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#4 of 8 Old 02-01-2011, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
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How did I miss these replies. Thank you so much you smart, thoughtful mamas. I am at 14.5 months and I'm currently giving her 16 oz a day of formula and 8-16 oz of BM. I am exactly split 50/50 between doing organic cow's milk to make sure I don't screw things up before the important age of two, and doing raw almond and coconut water milk. Argh, still having trouble deciding. I might split the difference and do both until she's at least two, as 18-24 months will be without BM. Anyway, you are all so wise and gave me a lot of food for thought. Thanks! xox, Julie

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#5 of 8 Old 02-01-2011, 06:51 PM
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How about sticking with your original plan to keep pumping til 18 mos and then for any formula that is needed you use organic formula?  We all agree with you that formula is nto a first-choice food, but sometimes it's necessary. 


Can I just say that you ROCK, btw.  EPing is sooo much work and you're a singlel mom, no less!  Lucky kid you got there.  :)

Bring back the old MDC
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#6 of 8 Old 02-03-2011, 09:34 AM
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Are you currently using a cow milk based infant formula?


If so, I'm not sure what benefit you are gaining from the formula over using whole cow's milk?


Personally, I believe that children should have a mammal based milk until at least two.  Human is, obviously, ideal but if unavailable I would go with what is next best.  In your case, it sounds like fresh cow's milk is available.  I also believe that kids bodies know instinctively what they are getitng and will adjust their diet accordingly.  Since your little one is now able to eat solids, I would be cutting back on the formula (she doesn't need the suppliments in it as much at this point).  That said, as long as she is getting 16 ounces of bmilk a day, it's probably not that big of a concern if her eating is healthy otherwise.

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#7 of 8 Old 02-03-2011, 10:40 PM
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Everyone has good suggestions. You mentioned you have access to a Trader Joe's. They carry Summerhill goat's milk, which though not technically labeled organic their goats are basically pastured, and it is low-temperature pasteurized. 

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Happily married to DH for 6 years, in process to foster-adopt 3 children DD4, DS3 and DS2. We may be bringing half brother age 9 one day as well! We are not infertile, we just have decided that since there are precious children who need homes there is no need for us to have biological children.

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#8 of 8 Old 02-05-2011, 11:08 AM
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My experience is not exactly the same, but maybe it will be helpful.  My daughter is 18 months old, and will not (and has never) take anything from a cup other than water.  Not even expressed breast milk.  I am pregnant, and she is nursing *much* less (2-3 times a day, and I don't think she is getting a lot).  We have been focusing on high fat, and high protein foods and making sure she drinks lots of water.  So she eats a lot of plain full fat yogurt, full fat cheese, avocado, nut butters and hummus.  Everything I have read about nutrition suggests that when given access to a variety of healthy choices, toddlers will balance their diet in a healthy way (although not necessarily in one day).  I feel like I feed her *all the time* now that she is not nursing so much, and I am sure that is in part because she doesn't have the easy source of calories that milk provides as a supplement, but she is gaining well, meeting her milestones, talking up a storm and is generally a happy kid.  So I am confident in our choice.


ETA: I am not saying you shouldn't feed her milk, just that if you choose a lower fat/calorie milk than cow's milk, I think you can make up the difference elsewhere.  I also think the calorie dense breakfast smoothie idea was a *great* one, I wish I could get my kiddo to do smoothies. :-)

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