Mom Wondering About Soy Formula

Updated on March 02, 2009
R.H. asks from Crookston, MN
18 answers

I have a 7 week old boy, on milk based formula he spit most of his bottle up after. So we swithed him to soy and he does not spit up half as much and is not so fussy all the time. My doctor told me that I should try him on lactose free as soy has estrogen in it and that boys do not need that of course. He stated that it would not hurt him to be on soy and that he could take it if the other does not work. Has any one else heard of this soy and estrogen thing before?

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So What Happened?

Lots of great advice so fast. I was really glad after reading every one's that I posted my quistion. We are now going to try the lactose free formula and hope that it works to reduce the vomiting as the soy did.

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answers from Des Moines on

My daughter was on prosobee but I never heard of that estrogen thing. I think that's a little weird. I would consult a dietician and see if they know anything like that. I would try nutramigen. When we switched to prosobee it was like night and day. She didn't have the vomiting, she just screamed and kicked every evening into the night. After switching, that was all gone. Maybe he doesn't just have a dairy intolerance. Just trying until you feel that it is the right diagnosis. Maybe he has acid reflux. They have special formula and medication for that too. Don't give up until you are satisfied.

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answers from Omaha on

I wouldn't recommend soy... go to and do some research on it. Of course it's your decision, but it is better to be informed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

R. - I feel VERY passionately about this, so bear with me :)
I would do anything, anything but give your child soy formula or soy milk. There is ample research that states that children given soy products when they are small go into early puberty and have a greater chance of infertility as they grow up. I am actually going though this right now with my nephew. He is 8 years old and already has the start of a mustach and body odor! He was given soy formula when he was a baby because there wasn't really other options yet back then.

I would seriously try to find another route to take with your son. My daughter spit up every bottle but she wasn't in distress or anything so we used Dr. Brown bottles and burped her often during her feedings. We NEVER put her on soy formula and she is just fine now (17 months). The spitting up is annoying, but it will go away at about 5-6 months.

Good luck and please don't give your little boy soy formula :)


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

My son was on soy formula as we heard that was more gentle on the stomach than milk-based formula. He did wonderful on it. We were never told of the estrogen thing. He is now almost 4 and is currently on soy milk after a bad time with ear infections around the time he turned 1. We were told that it could help to put him back on soy so that is what we did. He is doing great and have had no issues! Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Our first (now 4) was on a soy product, as was our 2nd boy (15 months). Our pediatrician has no issues with it and never said anything about estrogen. Our oldest is "all boy" being strong, tall and well built so I don't see any issues with his soy experience. I don't see any concerns with our second either.

If you have concerns, get a second opinion from your medical insurer's help line (ask-a-nurse) and maybe even contact the customer service departments at some of the formula makers and ask those questions. We use Similac and our third (a girl - 6 weeks) is on it too now (all three are/were also breatfed plus the Similac until about 6 months).

The most important thing in my opinion is that your baby is comfortable with eating. Our first had bad reflux un til 10 months of age so we did whatever we needed to make eating a better experience for him and us. Being that he did fine, we just stayed with the soy route with the 2nd two.

Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have a 7 month old boy who has been on soy formula and does wonderfulon it. He is growing like a weed and does not spit up afterwards. We started the soy as he was crying after he would eat. Since I am lactose intoralent I went with hte idea he might be also and it has worked wonders. Good luck!



answers from Fargo on

Hi R.! I do hope the alternative works! More people should read about soy and estrogen dominance! I have a long story of how soy damaged my body.
If you cannot find an alternative that works for you just go ahead and do what works with no fear! I had to use formula (milk based) and people put so much fear into me but my baby HAD to eat! The best choice is nourishing your baby no matter what the source.
If your baby still has issues at 12 months, I would totally recommend goats milk. It's far better for us than cows milk.
Blessings on you!



answers from Grand Forks on

I have heard that too and my son is 3 and a half months and when I quit breastfeeding about a month ago I had the same problem , my sister who had the same problem told me I should put him on soy, asked my dr. about it and she said that most babies who are good on the soy are just as good on the lactose free and they don't get the estrogen. I use the similac sensitive formula that is milk based and lactose free and have no problem with it.



answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, I've heard about it before and from reputable theraputic nutritionists! Besides the estrogen content, 98% of the soy products that are produced and consumed in the USA are genetically modified. Soy is unfortunately marketed to be so good for you, but it really isn't. It can really throw off a womans natural hormone balance too. Many products you eat have soybean oil (which is highly refined and causes inflammation in the body). I would not use a soy formula.



answers from Appleton on

Hey R.-when my son was the same age I had the same thing happen. I originally thought it was that I went from breast feeding to formula-I started with a milk based formula but my son kept up with the projectile vomiting. (which was extremely scary to me as a first time mom)So I then went to the soy-thinking it was the best option-and at the time it was for me. But shortly after this I did have him diagnosed with reflux and put on meds. Within a month or so of my Dr.'s diagnosis I heard some information from a Chiropractor that also helped my son, tremendously I might add. Probiotics. The active cultures that are found in yogurt. The name of the product I have been using is called Floragen3 and can be found in the frig of your pharmacy.(or some chiropractors sell it right in there offices.) It has to stay cold to be effective. So I started giving it to my son-1/2 a capsule in the am and 1/2 in the pm. What this will do is balance out the 2 types of stomach acid in you babys belly. Helping to reduce the spit up and discomfort.(it has also kept his immune system really strong this winter-he didnt get sick at all!)
As far as the soy formula-I also heard that it wasnt good, especially for boys, after we had him on it. So as a mother-I made the choice to keep him on it till we switch over to milk-which I will start next month as my babys b-day is in mid March. (and he is now off the reflux meds all together)
If we have another baby I am hoping to breast feed longer than with my first. But if we have to go to formula-I will more than likely go with a milk based.
Hope this helps-have a great day!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi R.,

Before I get into dishing out advice on your son's formula, let me give you my take on the current "soy situation". A few years ago, soy was *the* health food. Everyone celebrated the benefits of soy. As with most food fads, the pendulum has swung the other way, and soy has received some bad press. The truth is, soy is a food, plain and simple. Like anything we consume, it has good points, and it has bad points. But it deserves neither the sainthood it achieved a few years ago, or the vilification it's going through right now.

One big reason why soy is taking such a hit is that, like corn, soy has seeped into every food imaginable here in the U.S. Soy-derived ingredients are found in everything from Pop Tarts to Hamburger Helper to Crackers to Chicken Patties. If one is eating a lot of processed foods, they are in turn eating A LOT of soy, perhaps unknowingly. Disturbing amounts, in fact, and disturbing amounts of any food is never good.

I, personally, would not want my child, boy or girl, to be on soy formula exclusively. I've read enough evidence that I don't think soy formula all day, every day, is a good idea. I would be OK with using soy to supplement breastfeeding, but from your post, I'm gathering that your son is exclusively formula-fed. If I were you, I would try the lactose-free formula and see what happens. It might work, and it might not, but the only way you'll know is to try it.

If lactose-free formula doesn't cut it, you could reduce the amount of soy formula your baby was receiving by supplementing it with plain goat's milk. Now WIC and most MDs would freak at the notion, but truth be told, goat's milk was used on infants before commercial formula was readily available.

Another option you have is just foregoing soy milk altogether, and going with a goat's milk-based formula. Here is a link to more info:

In addition, the book "Nourishing Traditions" has recipes for homemade formula, and they could be tailored to use goat's milk.

If homemade formula isn't your bag, then you know what, just stick with the soy formula. As with anything in parenting, sometimes there's no "perfect" choice, only a "good" one. Soy formula is inexpensive and easy and you can buy it anywhere. When your son's formula days are over, carefully watch what he eats. Make sure that his infancy isn't the start of an entire lifetime of copious soy consumption. ;-) Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

This is currently a hot topice in the medical/nutrition world. The current recommondation is to use soy formula when the parents choose to use a vegan formula for their child. For a milk allergie they are recommending the use of hypoalergenic formula like nutramagin or alementum.

Soy is an allergen food. Meaning it is a commen food allergy. People who are allergic to milk are likely to be allergic to soy. Introducing an allergen at such a young age is beleived to increase the chances of him being allergic to eat later.

One thought about the phytoestrogens (plant hormones) is that it is causing girls to begin puberty at a younger age (say age 9 or 10). Who knows what extra extrogen does to boys.

Another concern about too much soy is that it can cause certain other healthy problems. I can't say for sure but I think it causes Thyroid problems. My dad was eating a lot of soy to help with colesterol but he started getting other problems from it. Can't remember specifacly what it was.



answers from Chicago on

I haven't but keep in mind that the lactose free formula that is not soy is milk based. So if your child is having issues keeping the formula down to a milk sensitivity it wont do you any good. Mine has the same issue. I use the Similac Isomil Soy Formula for fussiness and gas and also the Dr. Browns bottles.



answers from La Crosse on

Yes, I have heard of soy being harmful on boys--especially infant ones. Do some research on it and you can make your choice with good knowledge of the problem. Here is something to read:
However, I'd consult with a Lactation Consultant for the most accurate information.

Of course, unless you are on medication which is harmful to your baby--or there is a physical problem which precludes you at all--you could always reintroduce breastfeeding (called 'relactation'). There's loads of information online about this wonderful gift from nature. We women have awesome bodies capable of awesome things!!



answers from Milwaukee on

From my ped's website-important stuff to know about soy and giving it to babies under one.

Buy whatever is cheapest, and has iron. Start with cow's milk based formulas and if you switch to anything else, you should chat with me. It can be confusing, and the companies that make these products are are constantly changing the recipe. You can switch within a "class" (like cow's milk or soy) at will. A little formula primer:

Cow's milk based
Soy Based
Lactose Free
Low Iron
Protein Hydrolysate Formulas

Cow's milk based formulas:
Similac, Enfamil, Parent's Choice, Carnation Good Start, Enfamil Lipil, Similac Advance, Gentle Moments and any number of store brands. Pick whatever is cheapest.

Despite the abundance of advertising, they are all really essentially the same, maybe a little more of one ingredient or another, but not enough that's really made any difference in any non-formula-company-sponsored study that has looked at ultimate nutritional outcome, especially when compared to breastmilk.

Carnation Good Start's "comfort protein" is really an ingredient adjustment. Breastmilk has a certain whey:casein (protein) ratio. Similac and Enfamil products try to mimic that ratio (which they really can't, since it changes over time) and Carnation has decided to go 100% whey. Whey is theoretically easier to digest...hence "comfort" protein. I don't know what happens when you remove casein from your diet. I would guess it's in breastmilk for a reason. Carnation has less lactose, an adjustment needed to accommodate all the whey. Lactose is important in kids...see below.

The store brands are all really basically the same formula.

The FDA has guidelines that are minimum requirements for content in any formula on the market. All formulas available for purchase have to meet those requirements. And if you get samples from a bunch of companies during your pregnancy, you can use them all. Sticking to one brand once you've started another is not important at all. Switch away... I do not care one hoot for brand loyalty. Don't however, switch back and forth between soy and cow's milk based protein formulas . Actually, don't switch to soy without talking to me.

Soy formulas:
They are Isomil, Prosobee, Allsoy and any number of store brands. The kids shouldn't be on this without talking to me. If your child has some problem which is making you think that they would benefit from a formula change, we should make sure that nothing more serious is going on and that the reason for the change is actually a food-related issue. The nutritional content of soy isn't as good as cow's milk based formulas. Soy formulas are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics or your pediatrician. The soy formulas all advertise that they are gentler to the stomach or are easier to digest or will guarantee your child's admission to an ivy league school or something, but really, they don't. The truest sign of formula intolerance is diarrhea, and I mean water coming out, with gas, distention and sometimes blood in the stool. The overwhelming majority of kids who do not tolerate cow's milk protein based formulas do not tolerate soy. It really doesn't help spitting up because the spitting up is from an anatomical problem and not a digestive one. And soy formulas don't have lactose in them. See the Lactose Free section below : lactose is important in infants.

Click here for an article about recent safety concerns with soy formulas.

Low Iron formula:
These formulas are completely unnecessary and should be removed from the market. They do not help with constipation and can cause iron deficiency anemia which can lead to learning disability and growth problems.

Lactose Free formulas: Lactose is the sugar in breastmilk. And all formulas are designed after the content of breastmilk. Since things in nature rarely happen by chance, it's worth it to figure out why, out of all the sugars in the world, we have lactose in human milk.

Lactose helps with the intestinal absorption of calcium and iron. It helps promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. And probably most importantly, it is a component of a lipid needed for brain development. Now, I don't know about the other sugars we put in formulas, other than lactose, but I think the jury is still out whether or not they do as good a job as lactose does. Lactose is important in brain development--I'd suggest keeping it in the diet if we can.

These guys have a large market share for a problem which probably has a true incidence in kids of about 2-3% (and that's probably really generous). They are overused, mostly for "gas." Bottom line: If you don't have a good reason for your child to be on this, I have good reasons for them NOT to be on it. Talk to me first.

Lactose Intolerance vs. Cow's milk protein allergy

There is an important but often confusing difference between a cow's milk protein allergy or intolerance and a lactose intolerance.

Lactose is a sugar, and it's the sugar found in breastmilk, so a true infant lactose intolerance is very, very rare. We should get lactose in the kid's diet for all the reasons I list above.

Cow's milk protein on the other hand is a protein with allergenic capability. That cow's milk protein, being a protein from another species, can cause an allergic reaction in the baby's gut. That shows up as streaks of blood in the stool. Protein hydrolysate formulas are designed for this allergy, but some kids (as many as 5-10%) will still react to even the broken down protein in the formula and need a more specialized ridiculously expensive formula called Neocate.

Protein hydrolysate formulas:
Alimentum, Nutramagen. These formulas are reserved for children with true cow's milk protein allergy and are the next choice, instead of soy, for kids who develop that allergy (again, diarrhea, weight loss, and sometimes blood in the stool). They are expensive and stinky and smell bad when they come out. Again, the decision to use these should be one we make together.

These are being marketed as a cure for colic. They are not. Colic is not a gut problem!

Follow Up Formulas:

These are pretty much just a marketing gimmick. They have extra calcium in them but even in the formula-company sponsored studies, that extra calcium made no clinical difference. I think what happened was that the other formula companies started losing market share to Carnation Follow Up Formula, and they developed a product to help get some of the market share back.


Both AA and DHA are found in breastmilk and have been linked to improved vision and intelligence in breastfed kids. The formula companies have long said that intellectual differences between breastfed and formula-fed kids don't exist, but now they're saying that ARA and DHA, if put in formula, will make kids smarter.

But because some evidence shows that supplementation in formula confers maybe transient developmental benefits, we're not going to see less of ARA and DHA. The safety of these supplements is unknown.



answers from Davenport on

I can't tell you what to do either way, I am just responding to tell you that my son, now 8 and a half yrs. was on soy for the same sort of problems. most of my nieces and nephews were also on soy (all elementary to high school now). My son was very spitty, colicky, etc. We switched to soy which helped some, but eventually we treated him for reflux with meds and he quit spitting up everything! We also took him to the chiropractor which helped immensely with the fussiness! We switched him back to milk based formula after he had gotten older, like 9 or 10 mo. to make sure there wasn't any "milk problems", which there was not, he didn't really need to be on soy any way, I was just a first time desparate mommy needing some stability and peace for my baby.

Lots of people had suggested to me, and several of my daycare babies used, the Good Start Formulas because they are mostly made with whey. But so is Infamil liquid concentrate, just check labels. Sometimes it could be a problem of powder vs. liquid concentrate. I would say try the lactose free and see if it helps. Do what you feel is best for your baby to get everything he needs to be healthy.

As far as my nieces and nephews and my own son....I see no adverse effects from drinking it their first years. My son is strong, healthy, rarely sick, and a B average student in the third grade. So if he has effects from it, I haven't figured out what they are!


answers from La Crosse on

Hi R.~
soy is not going to hurt your son at all. Myself, my two brothers and 4 out of my 5 children have all been on soy formula. My 1 and 2 sons were on just soy until one, my 3 and 4 son's were on neutramigen until 6mo then switched to soy and by 9 mo they were on regular formula. My little girl is the only one who didn't need soy. My brothers are 36 and 31 and they have no health problems and have healthy kids of thier own. My boys 12,9,8 are all fine also and very healthy and no problems. right now my 2 yr old is also doing very good and he is the only one who still can't regular milk. Good luck on your choice but I have all age groups (young to adults) who have growen up on soy and are fine.

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