A regular ingredient in infant formula and other processed foods, soy allergies affect less than 1%, of young children, but are still considered to be one of the most common allergies in children under three.
Though soy allergies are frequently resolved in childhood, with one study showing that up to 70% of children with a soy allergy will outgrow this allergy by age 10, some individuals will remain allergic to soy throughout their lives.
Made from soybean, soy products are members of the legume family, like peanuts. However, being allergic to soy does not give you a greater risk of being allergic to other legumes.
The 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest that, along with most allergenic foods, soy proteins should be introduced to children with solids around 4-6 months of age. However, similarly to cow’s milk, they caution against offering soy milk as a beverage until your child is 12 months old.
With landmark clinical studies like the EAT study, data suggests that when introduced early, starting around 4-6 months, there could be less chance of developing a food allergy.
Though we know soy can be found in infant formula and products such as tofu, edamame, and soy sauce, there are also many hidden sources of soy. It can be found in natural flavoring used for baked goods like cookies and crackers. It can also be found in meat substitutes and as an additive ingredient in processed and canned meats.
Soy milk should not be used as a substitute for formula or breastmilk, but the allergenic protein can be introduced alongside other solids when your baby reaches 4-6 months of age.
A great source of protein and iron, soy is an important food for your baby to try when offered properly. Here are a few tips on how to offer your baby this potentially allergenic food.
From 4-12 Months
Food allergen introduction powder, like SpoonfulONE’s Mix-ins, is an easy, hassle-free way to introduce your children to soy and other allergenic foods. These powders can easily be mixed into breastmilk or formula and bottle-fed, or mixed into purees, applesauce, or oatmeal.
An easy way to introduce your baby to the soy protein, plain firm tofu can be cut into small strips and eaten as finger food as your little one starts solids. Silken or soft styles of tofu can also be added to other dishes or purees. Safe to eat raw in the block format you find in the grocery store, tofu has significant amounts of protein and iron in a condensed form.
As your child ages, you can transition from allergen powders to more solid puffs. SpoonfulONE’s Puffs are nutritious baby snacks designed to easily dissolve with saliva and are the perfect finger foods for growing infants. A perfect on-the-go snack that makes soy introduction easy, Puffs are recommended for babies at least 6+ months or older and include the 16 foods most commonly associated with 90% of food allergies. If you are wanting to add more savory flavors to your little one's growing palate, try Crunchy Puffs, a delicious puff snack with three yummy savory flavors.
It is important to maintain allergy introduction beyond the first year of life. And if you haven’t started yet, while the recommendation is to start allergen introduction between 4-6 months, it is never too late. Here are our favorite ways for maintaining soy introduction beyond the first year of life.
You can also sneak soy milk into your child’s everyday foods, like pouring some over their cereal, mixing into oatmeal, blending in a smoothie, or adding to soups, mashed potatoes, or mac and cheese.
As your child transitions from infancy to childhood, SpoonfulONE’s Oat Crackers are a delicious baby snack for 1 year olds that make consistent diet diversity a long-term and delicious habit. Once your baby has been enjoying Puffs for some time, is feeding themselves with their fingers, and is actively biting and chewing food, you’ll want to try small pieces of other foods that dissolve really quickly like our Oat Crackers.
Like any other food, soy milk may not be accepted by your child right away. To help with the transition, you can try mixing it into more familiar milk, like breastmilk or formula, and let them drink from a bottle, sippy cup, or regular cup.