How Plant-Based Milks Compare to Cow's Milk for Kids
Made With: Water and ground almonds
Texture: Thinner than whole milk but creamier than skim
Nutrition (per cup): 25 to 40 calories, 0 to 1g protein, 2g to 4g fat
Good Picks: Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened, and Original So Delicious Dairy Free Unsweetened Almond
Pluses & Minuses: Contains vitamin E and phosphorus, thanks to almonds, but it’s low in protein.
Bottom Line: Substitute it only when there’s another protein source at the meal. If you’re using it in a smoothie, consider adding protein powder.
Made With: Coconut flesh and water
Texture: Creamy and rich
Nutrition (per cup): 45 calories, 0 to 1g protein, 4g to 5g fat
Good Picks: Coconut Dream Unsweetened Original Enriched, and Silk Unsweetened Coconut Milk
Pluses & Minuses: Naturally contains small amounts of magnesium and iron, but it packs more than 3 grams of saturated fat per cup, a chunk of the daily limit.
Bottom Line: It adds a wonderful flavor to smoothies and ice pops, so think of it as a treat instead of a daily substitute.
Made With: Concentrated yellow-split-pea protein, sunflower oil, water, and omega-3 fatty acids
Texture: Our kid testers thought it tasted more like cow’s milk than others.
Nutrition (per cup): 70 calories, 8-10g protein, 5g fat
Good Picks: Ripple Unsweetened Original, and Bolthouse Farms Unsweetened Plant Protein Milk
Pluses & Minuses: Supplies as much protein as cow’s milk, and research shows that pea protein is filling. But it’s expensive.
Bottom Line: It’s one of the best milk alternatives and a great pick if you need a nut-free choice for school.
Made With: Brown rice, water, and sunflower oil
Texture: Thin and watery
Nutrition (per cup): 50 calories, 0 to 1g protein, 1g fat
Good Picks: Rice Dream Enriched Unsweetened Rice Drink, and Trader Joe’s Organic Enriched Rice Drink
Pluses & Minuses: Is the most easily digestible, but it’s low in protein. Arsenic levels in concentrated sources of rice are also a worry.
Bottom Line: Opt for it if your child has trouble digesting other types of milk.
Made With: Soybeans and water
Texture: Can be a little chalky, but many kids get used to it.
Nutrition (per cup): 80 calories, 7g protein, 4g fat (1g sat. fat)
Good Picks: Silk Organic Unsweetened Soymilk, and Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Soymilk Unsweetened
Pluses & Minuses: Nutritionally, it’s close to low-fat milk. But, like dairy, soy is a common allergen in kids.
Bottom Line: If your child has allergies, talk to his doctor before using soy. Both brands above use non-GMO soybeans.