Oat milk for babies

and other plant based milks – The Ultimate Guide

As a dietitian specialising in milk allergy I get many questions about choosing a plant based milk for babies and toddlers, especially when starting the milk ladder.

Mums are worried which one is best as there are so many out there. The majority of the packaging also states that they should not be given to children under 3 years of age as a drink. You find yourself wondering where to go after formula or breastfeeding?

But, not all plant based milks are equal!

It is important that when choosing a plant based milk for your toddler that you know what to look for in the ingredients list. Checking your labels ensures that your baby isn’t missing out on any key nutrients, or having a milk that is too low in calories for their requirements.

So what plant based milk can you give your toddler with CMPA after 12 months of age.

What is plant based milk?

A plant based milk is one that is not made from animal products and comes from plant sources. They used to be found predominantly in health food stores,  but nowadays most grocery stores stock some form of plant based milk. 

Oat milk for babies
Plant based milk – CMPA

The different types of plant based milk

There are; 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. 

They may also be labelled as organic or unsweetened (I’ll get to this a little further down the blog).

What to look for in a plant based milk

When it comes to a plant based milk for toddlers with CMPA you need to ensure that it is fortified. 

Fortified means that it contains added nutrients that aren’t naturally contained.

The main nutrients I advise to look for on the packaging are; iodine, calcium and vitamin B12.  

Calcium, Iodine & Vitamin B12 in plant based milk for CMPA

Why Calcium, Iodine and Vitamin B12? 

Well, cow’s milk protein-contained products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are some of the main sources of all three of these nutrients.

When a baby has CMPA you are avoiding all cows milk protein contained foods which can increase the risk of nutritional deficiency in these three nutrients if they are not found elsewhere in your toddlers diet.

Fortifying plant based milks with Calcium, Iodine and Vitamin B12 means that your baby is not missing out on these essential nutrient

Requirements for toddlers with CMPA

Daily Calcium intake


Daily Iodine intake 

70-110 mcg

Daily Vitamin B12 intake 


What to look for in a plant based milk for babies

Reading the labels

The milk that you give your baby as a drink or add to their meals needs to contain enough energy to support their growth. Plus it also needs to be fortified with Calcium, Iodine and Vitamin B12. 

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

  • >45kcals 
  • >1g of protein
  • 120mg of Calcium
  • 25mcg Iodine
  • 0.38mcg Vitamin B12

This makes the milk similar to the nutritional content of whole cows milk. 

If your baby eats animal based products, including fish then added iodine and Vitamin B12 do not necessarily need to be present in the plant based milk as these will also be obtained through food in their diet. 

Plant based milk – The variety! 

When it comes to products out there it does all depends where you are in the world on the brands available and honestly it can be overwhelming. 

The first milk I advise parents to try is;

Soya milk

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

Although baby’s don’t need a lot of protein it is important that the milk they drink does contain some protein. I would recommend a milk that contains more than 1g of protein per 100mls.

Some babies with CMPA may also have a soya allergy so I always advise to monitor your baby when giving soya milk as a drink if they haven’t had it before. 

Oat milk

Oat is also a good option but it generally has a little less protein than soya milk. Whole or barista style oat milk will generally contain adequate calories. 

Coconut milk drink

I generally don’t advise giving coconut milk as a main drink to babies who are around 12 months old and looking to move to a plant based milk. The main reason is that it tends to be very low in calories (around 12 calories per 100mls) and protein (around 0.1g per 100mls). Toddlers generally need more than this from a plant based milk as a drink.

Coconut milk can be added to foods but I wouldn’t recommend it as a main drink. If you are using it as a main drink it is important that you monitor protein and calorie intake from other sources. 

Almond milk

As with coconut milk I wouldn’t generally recommend plant based almond milk as it also tends to be lower in calories, some as low as 12 calories per 100ml and protein around 0.5g per 100mls. 

Pea Milk 

A recently new, and lesser known product to the market is pea milk. Pea milk can be a good option aside from soya and oat. The majority of the pea milks that I have researched have around 1g of protein and 50 calories per 100mls meaning that they can be a good option aside from soya and oat for infants with CMPA. 

Some infants can have an allergy to pea milk so be aware of this when giving to your baby. It can also cause them to be a little windy!

Hemp milk 

Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds and water and again is now widely available in most grocery stores.

However, hemp milk is again generally low in calories and this means that I would only again recommend it to add to foods around 12 months old, not as a main drink. 

Cashew Nut Milk 

Another one a little low in calories (around 25 per 100mls ) and protein. I would advise that you can add to food but not give it as a main drink if your little one can tolerate an alternative milk that is higher in calories and protein. 

Rice Milk 

Rice milk is not recommended for children under the age of 5 so I would not advise giving this to your baby as a drink or adding to foods. The reason for this is that rice milk contains arsenic and could have a negative effect on your baby’s health. 

What about organic plant based milk?

I don’t recommend organic plant based milk and this can be a little controversial of an opinion. My reason for this is that it is not fortified. It is unlikely to have adequate calcium, iodine and Vitamin B12 and therefore won’t be providing them extra nutrients your toddlers needs.

If you are confident that they are 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 plant based milk. 

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. 

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

I would always recommend looking back on packaging and checking that there isn’t sugar listed in the ingredients list. If it is then don’t give this to your toddler. 


With any plant based milk for your toddler with CMPA always check the labels. 

It is important that it has added calcium, iodine and vitamin b12 and it isn’t too low in calories and protein. 

Take a screenshot of this picture so you can keep it handy when out shopping for your plant based milk. 

After 12 months if your baby is eating a balanced diet and you do wish to stop breastfeeding or giving CMPA formula then a fortified plant based milk is the perfect alternative to ensure nutritional balance.

Remember that your toddler will also need a multivitamin, check out my baby multivitamin guide here.

Oat milk for babies

Hannah x

More CMPA resources:

When to start weaning – Expert Dietitian Guide

When to start weaning – Expert Dietitian Guide

As a new parent, there are many milestones to look forward to with your baby, and one of the most significant ones is weaning (or complementary feeding). The weaning process is the introduction of solid foods into your baby's diet and I talk frequently about when to...

Milk Allergy Formula

Milk Allergy Formula

The Complete Guide for Babies with CMPA. Milk allergy or cows milk protein allergy is one of the most common food allergies in babies. Milk allergy effects 2-3% of babies under 6 months old and unfortunately, it can lead to a very unsettled baby and in some...

CMPA Breastfeeding 

CMPA Breastfeeding 

The milk challenge Milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies affecting between 2-3% of babies under 6 months. To diagnose milk allergy in a breastfed baby mums need to complete a milk challenge. This can be confusing and you might have many questions about...

Baby poop smells like vinegar

Baby poop smells like vinegar

The Ultimate baby poop guide So you open that nappy and need answers to your questions and wish you could find them. You google baby poop guide and millions of results come back. You just want to know the answer to baby poop smells like vinegar and if is this normal?...

CMPA Symptoms

CMPA Symptoms

What is CMPA? CMPA or cow's milk protein allergy is one of the most common allergies in children, estimated to affect around 2-3% of babies before 6 months old.  It is caused by the immune system responding to the protein found in cow's milk. There are many different...

Want more info?

If you have any questions or need some advice, feel free to get in touch!