Are cow milk substitutes as nutritious as milk itself?

Updated on: Jan 5, 2016

Milk substitutes are lower in fat and in certain nutrients than cow’s milk. For the child who must consume substitutes of dairy products, it is important to add certain foods to the diet in order to make up for the lack of certain nutrients.


Milk substitutes are lower in fat than cow’s milk, as evidenced by the attached table (French only). Soy milk contains half and the other two contain only a trimester of the amount of fat present in cow’s milk.

All these drinks therefore do not provide enough fat. With meals and snacks, in order to provide enough energy and ensure proper brain development for the child, add good quality fats beyond the amount normally present.

Fats to incorporate to the diet: canola oil, olive oil, avocado, peanut butter.


The protein content of rice drinks and almonds is almost nil. Soy milk contains almost the same amount of protein as milk which makes it a better alternative.

Protein is essential to the growth of children. Good sources of protein must be present at each meal, including at breakfast and snacks, and that, especially with rice or almond beverages which hardly contain any protein. Protein-rich foods will also increase the intake of vitamin B12 and zinc.

Foods rich in protein and B12: meat, poultry, fish, eggs.


The amount of calcium and vitamin D in these beverages is similar. However, vegetable drinks have been enriched since these are not found naturally in significant quantities. The added calcium tends to settle to the bottom of the container. It is therefore important to vigorously shake the container each time before serving.


Santé Canada. (2012). La nutrition du nourrisson né à terme et en santé: Recommandations de la naissance à six mois. Repéré à :


Allergie Québec. (2014).

Doré, N. et Le Henaff, D. (2014). Mieux vivre avec notre enfant de la grossesse à deux ans, guide pratique pour les mères et les pères.


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