Are Soybeans Bad for Toddlers?
You finally got your toddler to try soybeans, and success! He liked them! Soybeans contain several nutrients that are important for your child's health, and their versatility allows you to serve them in many ways. Some people want to rain on your parade by saying soy isn't good for toddlers, but don't throw them out just yet. As long as your child isn't only eating soybeans, the benefits may just outweigh the risks.
Soybeans contain protein, something that isn't true for all vegetables. Protein is important for toddlers because it gives them energy, even if you're sure your toddler doesn't need any more. It also helps with normal growth and development. Soybeans also have fiber, which promotes appetite control and normal bowel function. Your toddler will also get some calcium for healthy bones and teeth and iron for healthy blood. Despite this, soybeans in large amounts might not be the best idea for all toddlers.
Much of the hype about the ill effects of soybeans stems from the research that indicates the high levels of estrogen in soy could be harmful to toddlers. Consuming too much could interfere with development and may even put your toddler into early puberty. Don't panic just yet, because your toddler would have to eat a lot of soybeans for this to be a worrisome risk. Give your child the soybeans he's craving for a snack, just don't include them in every meal.
You know your child is growing, but you can't always be sure he's getting enough nutrition -- especially if his meal of choice is potato chips and ranch dressing. You figure he'll eat soybeans, so why not him give a lot of them? Soybeans contain phytates, a plant compound that may interfere with mineral absorption, particularly zinc, which your child needs for growth and immunity. You don't have to toss the soybeans down the drain, but to ensure proper nutrient absorption, mix them up with other vegetables and plant foods, hard as this may be at times.
If your toddler drinks soy milk, eats tofu in place of meat and nibbles on soybeans for a daily snack, you might have to worry about his health. However, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website, the health benefits of soybeans probably outweigh the risks as long as they are balanced with a varied intake of other foods as well. If you become concerned about your child's health or growth, contact his pediatrician to discuss his soy intake.