18 of the best non dairy milks for toddlers [2024]

As a dietitian specialising in milk allergy,  I get many questions about choosing a non dairy milk for toddlers. This is especially common when switching from infant formula at around 12 months old. 

Recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that all toddlers stay on whole milk until at least 2 years of age.

In the UK this is a little different. New guidelines advise that from 12 months toddlers can be given whole or semi-skimmed cows milk. 

But of course if your baby has a milk allergy you will be looking for the best non-dairy milk. This is particularly important if your toddler is stopping infant formula, beginning the milk ladder and isn’t yet able to tolerate cow’s milk.

So what are the best non-dairy milks for toddlers to drink after 12months of age. 

Firstly;

What is plant based milk?

A plant-based milk, made from plant sources instead of cows’ milk, used to be found predominantly in health food stores. However, nowadays most grocery stores stock some form of plant-based milk. 

You may have noticed that the majority of plant-based milk alternatives’ packaging states they shouldn’t be given to children under 3 years of age as a drink. So what do you do? 

Well, first not all plant-based milks are created equal! As a Dietitian specialising in food allergy in children I want to make sure you get the correct advice.

It is important that when choosing non dairy milks for toddlers, that you know what to look for. Checking the labels ensures that your baby isn’t missing out on any key nutrients, or essential kcals for growth. Let’s take a look. 

Non dairy milk alternatives for toddlers
Non Dairy Milk Alternatives for Toddlers.  

The different types of plant-based milk

On the market there are so many different plant based milk alternatives out there. You have soya, oat, coconut, almond, hemp, cashew, pea, rice, a mixture of some of these, and maybe some I have missed!  The list has really grown over the last few years.  

What to look for in a plant based milk for toddlers? 

First you need to make sure that it is fortified.  

Fortified products contain added nutrients that aren’t naturally present.

I advise looking for some essential nutrients in dairy alternatives, such as added Vitamin D, Iodine, Calcium, and Vitamin B12. Some plant-based milks may also contain the vitamin B riboflavin.

Why does my toddler need fortified plant-based alternatives? 

Toddlers generally need a fortified plant-based milk to ensure they receive essential nutrients. These are nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and B12, which are crucial for healthy growth and development. Fortification helps fill nutritional gaps, especially when your little one is avoiding cows milk protein.

Let’s look further into these nutrients

Calcium

Calcium is essential for building strong bones and teeth, toddlers need 350mg of calcium per day. A typical 100mls of fortified plant-based milk contained 120mg of calcium. Calcium isn’t only found in dairy products but in foods such as green leafy vegetables, fortified cereal and tofu. Check out more non-dairy sources of calcium for more info. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important to help with calcium absorption. A daily intake of 10mcg of Vitamin D is recommended and helps to keep your toddlers bones growing and their immune system strong. Although generally found in plant based milks, food generally isn’t a great source of Vitamin D. Due to this I’d always recommended to give a toddler a multivitamin with 10mcg contained.

Iodine

Iodine is a lesser known nutrients but recommendations are 90mcg per day for toddlers. Iodine is critical for your toddlers brain development and thyroid function. It is found mainly in fish and dairy products but I would also recommend looking for this in your plant milk. Iodine can be a little tricky to find and is only in a few not dairy milk alternatives at the minute. Have a look below for which ones. 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is vital for brain health and energy, toddlers require 0.9mcg of Vitamin B12 daily to support red blood cell production. However if eating a balanced diet with Vitamin B12 rich foods such as meat products it is likely your toddler is getting all they need so this isn’t as essential as Calcium & Iodine. 

Reading the labels of milk alternatives for babies.

The milk that you give your baby as a drink after 12 months of age needs, to contain enough energy and nutrients to support their growth and development.

I always recommend that you choose a plant-based milk that contains per 100mls;

This generally makes the plant based milk similar to the nutritional content of whole and semi skimmed cow’s milk. 

Remember If your baby eats animal products, including fish, then iodine and Vitamin B12 may not need to be present in plant-based milk since they can also obtain them through their diet.

Non Dairy Milks – The variety! 

The available products vary depending on where you are in the world, and with so many options, it can feel overwhelming. Here’s a round up of some of my favourite products out there – most found in the UK.

18 of the Best Non-dairy milk for toddlers

Oat Milk for Toddlers

Alpro Growing up Oat Milk

Alpro are known for their soya based products but have also produced a produced a growing-up milk which contains; Iodine, Calcium, Vitamin D & B12. It also doesn’t have any added sugar like their Soya Growing up milk (don’t ask me why). To increase the protein content, it also has a little pea protein to give it 1.8g per 100mls. 

Milk Alternatives for toddlers

Silk – Oat milk

Silk do a wide range of plant based milks including this oat based product. Silk isn’t available in the UK but can be found in the US & Canada.  is Danone version of oat milk and can be found in the US. This also contains Calcium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D but it is a little low in protein (0.3g per 100mls) but it doesn’t have iodine.

Mighty Pea Oat Milk

Mighty Pea – known for their pea milk have now brought out an oat milk. This one is a good one, it contains calcium, iodine, adequate calories and no added sugar! 

Silk – Oat milk

Silk do a wide range of plant based milks including this oat based product. Silk isn’t available in the UK but can be found in the US & Canada.  is Danone version of oat milk and can be found in the US. This also contains Calcium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D but it is a little low in protein (0.3g per 100mls) but it doesn’t have iodine.

non dairy milks for toddlers

M&S Whole Oat Milk

A supermarket option, M&S have a great range of non dairy milks for toddlers. Their whole oat milk contains per 100mls; 55kcals, added calcium and iodine and no sugar

non dairy milks for toddlers

Oatly

Oatly are one of the best known brands of oat milk in the UK and are also available in the US. They again do a wide range of products and their barista and semi-products include all the important nutrients listed above including adequate calories, iodine and calcium. 

Soya milk

Soya milk is widely available and is made from soya beans with water. It is generally the highest in protein of all the plant-based milks with oat and pea protein milk are joint second. 

Although babies don’t need a lot of protein the milk they drink must contains some protein. This means that soya milk is pretty much one of the best plant-based milks for babies. 

It’s important to be aware though that some babies with milk allergy may also have a soya allergy. In fact this number is thought to be around 60%, so I always advise you to monitor your baby when giving soya milk as a drink if they haven’t had it before. 

Here are some of the best soya milks for 1 year olds. 

Alpro

Alpro are the leading brand when it comes to soya products and their products are available in the USA and UK. 

Alpro Soya Original

This product contains calcium, B12, and Vitamin D but is lacking in iodine which is disappointing. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Alpro Growing up soya milk RRP. £2 per litre 

Alpro also have a growing up soya milk just for toddlers aged 1-3 years. However, they have annoyed me a little recently as this now contains added sugar and used to contain apple concentrate to sweeten. This however contains iodine and added iron unlike it’s counterpart above. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Tesco – Growers harvest 

This is one of the cheapest options out there and contains adequate calcium, protein, Vitamin D and B12 and iodine! The kcals in it are a little lower but still could make it a suitable option. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Coconut plant based alternative 

If your little one has an allergy to soya and oat you may be looking for alternatives. Although coconut milk alternatives aren’t always the highest in calories they can provide additional Vitamin B12, Calcium and iodine to your toddler’s diet. 

I am a little biased but one brand stands as the best coconut milk alternative for toddlers, this is…

Koko, i absolutely love their products. 

Koko Life

This is my favourtie of kokos alternative milk products and meets all requirements; Calcium Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iodine plus many more nutrients. It also doesn’t contain sugar and I think it tastes great. 

It does have a little pea protein added to again boost the protein content to 1.9g per 100mls. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Koko has also recently launched a product, especially for children called Koko kids. This is pretty much similar in nutritional profile to koko life.  

non dairy milks for toddlers

Almond Milk Alternatives

There is now a range of nut milks out there, but a lot of them tend to be quite low in kcals. Due to this I would only really advise these milks to be added to foods or if your little one has multiple food allergies and can’t have the alternatives as above. Another thing to note is that some of these nut based nondairy milks may contain other tree nuts and therefore may also not be a suitable cow’s milk alternative. 

Almond Breeze

Almond Breeze seem to be the leading brand on almond milk. These milk would really only be able to be added to food as they are a little lower in kcals (24kcals/100mls). Their original contains Calcium and B12 but no Iodine again. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Alpro Almond no Added sugar milk

Alpro alongside their soya and oat milks have a variety of almond milks. Their no added sugar would be my pick as the other contain ‘added sugar’. Their almond milk is really low in kcals at  13 per 100mls, it also only has 0.4g of protein. But, it is fortified with Calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Iodine! Again thie best choice is to use this in food. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Alpro Almond Barista milk

Alpro have recently brough out a barista style almond milk which is again fortified with calcium but has less kcals and also added sugar. If you want to use this one I would say use only in food on occasion. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Cashew Milk

Alpro Cashew milk

Now there isn’t much variety when it comes to cashew milk that is fortified. I found Alpro again but this isn’t doesn’t have added iodine (seems to be becoming a key factor with alpro brands).  It has 23kcals, 0.5g protein and is also fortified with calcium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.  It also contains added sugar so generally I’d only use for cooking. 

Any other cashew milks out there didn’t have anything added so basically cashew nuts, a little salt and water. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Pea Milk 

Ripple Kids

Ripple has been an up-and-coming product in the last few years and I’ve only been able to find it in the US so far. Their milks are based around pea protein and they now have both sweetened and unsweetened plant based milk for kids. Their kids products have something that all other plant-based milks I’ve found out there don’t. They contain choline. 

Choline is amazing for your toddlers brain development but guess what? It doesn’t contain iodine? Why? I don’t know. Their products have over 2g of protein per 100mls and added Vitamin D, Calcium, Vitamin B12. 

non dairy milks for toddlers

Mighty Pea

Mightly pea are a UK based company that started off with pea milks and have now branched out into oat milks too. Their pea milk is pretty good and is fortified with calcium and iodine but only contains 25kcals per 100mls

Sproud Pea Milk

If you’re looking for the best pea milk option then I suggest sproud would be the one to choose. It has 40kcals and 2.1g of protein per 100mls and added calcium! 

Hemp milk 

Hemp milk is also widely available and is made from hemp seeds and water. 

However, hemp milk is again generally low in calories and I also wasn’t able to find any hemp milks that were fortified so I would say this one is a bit of a no-go as an plant based milk alternative for toddlers unless you know they are getting adequate calcium and iodine from other sources. 

New range of non dairy alternatives

There have been a new range of non dairy alternatives come to the market. These are typically a mix of multiple plant based sources

Alpro – Their “This is not Milk” (whole) is made from oat and pea sources. It contains iodine, calcium, and 62 kcals per 100mls. Their semi option may also be suitable as it contains 47 kcals per 100mls, but again, Alpro, your products contain sugar!

non dairy alternatives for toddlers.

Oat Milk vs Soya Milk

My first choices for most toddlers following a plant-based diet would be an oat or soya milk. Soya milk is a strong choice because it is high in protein and fortified with essential nutrients like calcium and iodine if you can find one. Oat milk can be a good option, as long as your toddler can meet their protein sources via other means in their diet.  

Pea milk is definitely up and coming so keep a look out for this one. It could be a good options if your little one has multiple food allergies. Remember to avoid nut milks, coconut milks, and rice milks as a main drinks as they do not provide adequate nutrition in terms of calories for young children.

Can my baby have Rice Milk? 

I would not advise giving rice milk as a drink or adding it to your baby’s foods, as it is not recommended for children under the age of 5. The reason for this is that rice milk contains arsenic, which could negatively affect your baby’s health.

Barista Plant Based Milks

Now a few brands have brought out barista-style plant-based milk options. This includes; Alpro and Oatly the two main players in the alternative milk world. Coffee shops generally use barista-style milks because their high fat content creates a foam. These are however suitable to give to your little one but again just check the sugar content. 

What about organic plant-based milk?

I generally don’t recommend organic plant-based milks for toddlers. Why? well they are generally not fortified which means they won’t have added calcium, b12, vitamin d and iodine. 

If you are confident that your little one is getting the correct levels of these nutrients from other sources then organic is fine but I would always ask that you check. 

Sweetened vs unsweetened milk substitutes

If you look at the back of the packaging you may find that in the carbohydrate section it says ‘of which sugar’. A lot of plant-based milk have apple juice added to make them taste sweeter. Now as i mentioned above some of the products targeted at young children have added sugar. This is naughty of the manufacturer so I would advise you to make sure you check the labels and make a choice for yourself based on what is out there. 

A little caveat here is that as oats are a carbohydrate source and therefore oat milks are naturally going to show as higher in sugar than other plant based milks. 

Always check the back of the packaging to ensure it does not list sugar in the ingredients. If it is, consider giving this only on occasion.

How much milk should my baby drink after 12 months? 

So when it comes to milk I always ask parents to look at their toddler’s nutritional needs overall. If your little one is having a balanced diet and is having other sources of calcium then they may only need around 2 cups of fortified milk per day. 

Table of best non-dairy milks for toddlers

Milk TypeBrandVitamin DIodineCalciumVitamin B12Kcals Above 40Contains Sugar
Oat MilkAlpro Growing up Oat MilkYesYesYesYesYesYes
Silk – Oat MilkYesNoYesYesNoNo
Mighty Pea – Oat MilkYesYesYesYesYesNo
OatlyYesYesYesYesYesNo
M&S Whole Oat MilkYesYesYesNoYesNo
Soya MilkAlpro Soya OriginalYesNoYesYesYesYes
Alpro Growing up Soya MilkYesYesYesYesYesYes
Tesco – Growers HarvestYesYesYesYesNoNo
Tesco Soya Unsweetened DrinkYesNoYesYesYesNo
Coconut MilkKoko LifeYesYesYesYesNoNo
Koko KidsYesYesYesYesNoNo
Almond MilkAlmond BreezeYesNoYesYesNoNo
Alpro Almond no Added SugarYesYesYesYesNoYes
Alpro Almond Barista MilkYesNoYesYesNoYes
Cashew MilkAlpro Cashew MilkYesNoYesYesNoYes
Pea MilkRipple KidsYesNoYesYesYesNo
Mighty PeaYesYesYesYesNoNo
Sproud Pea MilkYesYesYesYesYesNo
Oat & PeaAlpro This is not MilkYesYesYesYesYesYes
Non dairy Alternatives for Toddlers

When you’re looking for a dairy free milk for toddlers it can be a little tricky especially if your little one has multiple food allergies. 

I hope this information will help you to choose. Remember to always look out for a milk that has (per 100mls); more that 40kcals, 120mg of calcium and more than 1.5g of protein. As I have shown you it can be tricky to find a product with added iodine but they are out there. 

Remember to only give a plant based milk alternative as a main drink over 1 year of age but you can add it to your baby’s solid foods from 6 months 

Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at  | info@bump2babynutrition.com | Website

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.

Credentials

Registered Dietitian
First Class Degree in Nutrition

Experience

Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition

 

 

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