Hemp Milk vs. Oat Milk for Toddlers
If your toddler can't drink cow's milk because of an allergy or because you follow a vegetarian diet and don't consume dairy, you might consider little-known milk substitutes such as hemp milk or oat milk. Both oat milk and hemp milk have disadvantages and advantages, but either can serve as healthy alternative milks for a toddler.
Purpose of Using Plant-Based Milk Substitutes
Hemp and oat milk are nutty beverages that your toddler can drink can consume in place of cow's milk. Substituting with a hemp or oat milk has a number of benefits, including being allergy friendly. In some cases, manufacturers choose to add grains such as barley, which does contain gluten, to oat milk. So you must read the ingredients if you're looking to avoid gluten.
Hemp milk is made from pulverized hemp seeds and is safe for toddlers to drink. Fortified hemp milk contains more calcium, essential for bone growth in toddlers, than cow's milk, with 428 milligrams per cup. Hemp milk also supplies essential omega-3 fatty acids as well as 4 grams of protein in an 8-ounce glass. Hemp milk contains no cholesterol, but around 3 percent of the calories in hemp milk come from saturated fats.
Because of its mild, slightly sweet taste, your toddler might prefer oat milk to hemp milk, which has a grassy flavor. This alternative milk may contain other grains such as barley or brown rice. Oat milk supplies dietary fiber and about the same amount of protein as hemp milk, 4 grams per serving. But oat milk naturally contains more sugar and is higher in calories than other alternative milks. If you're trying to increase your toddler's calorie intake, this could be an advantage, but if you're concerned about sugar intake, you might want to choose hemp milk instead. Oat milk is calcium-free, but manufactures often add it after processing.
Hemp milk is expensive, since it must be imported. One disadvantage to all alternative milks, according to registered dietitian Monica Reinagel, is that they often contain added salt, which your toddler doesn't need, in addition to added sugar, to improve their flavor.