Soy infant formula should only be used as a last resort.
That’s the warning the Israeli Health Ministry, French Food Agency, British Dietetic Association and other government bodies have given parents and pediatricians.
(Please, if you used soy for a time – like I did – do not live in guilt or feel judged. You will find none of that here, just information to help next time! We just didn’t know and now we do, so we can do better.)
Parents who have chosen to bottle feed are often afraid to use a dairy formula with a new infant.
Still it is estimated that 50 percent of infants who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy. Also, soy-based formulas contain corn syrup, and corn is a frequent allergen.
For this reason, the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends against the use of soy formula in infants who are potentially allergic to cow’s milk.
Why It’s NOT Good to Feed Your Baby Soy In General:
(We’ll Get To Boys vs Girls In A Minute)
There are three reasons to refrain for going the soy route: the last reason being the worst of all.
1. Phytic acid is present in the seed coat of all seeds and blocks the absorption of critical minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and particularly zinc. Soybeans have extremely high amounts, and it is unusually resistant to breaking down.
As early as 1967, researchers testing soy formula found that it caused negative zinc balance in every infant to whom it was given.
Zinc is the intelligence mineral; it is required for optimal brain and neurological development. As a result, deficiency of this nutrient in infants at a time when the brain is growing at its most rapid rate could have lifelong implications and possibly reduce IQ.
2. Like phytic acid, trypsin inhibitors are present in large amounts in soybeans. These inhibit digestion and absorption of nutrients. In the manufacturing process, trypsin inhibitors need application of high heat for extended periods of time to break down, but some remain in the final product and studies show their presence prevents normal growth in baby rats.
Knowing that a baby’s brain and nervous system grows to about 75% of its full size in the first year, any retardation of normal growth development is counter to helping your child reach his or her full potential.
3. The biggest danger of using soy is the phytoestrogens (plant estrogens called isoflavones) found in all soybeans whether organic, conventional or GMO. While these are not bioidentical to human estrogens, they are close enough to cause hormone disruption, and could potentially affect and alter an infant’s developing brain and physiology. [see studies below -1,2,3,4,5,6]
Daniel Sheehan, PhD, the retired senior toxicologist at the US FDA’s National center for Toxicological Research, made it clear when he stated that, “infants fed soy-based formulas have been placed at risk in a large, uncontrolled and basically unmonitored human infant experiment!”
Baby Boys On Soy Infant Formula
The phytoestrogens in soy can interfere with the testosterone surge that occurs during a boy’s first 3-4 months of life. So much testosterone at this age is needed to program males for puberty, the time when their sex organs should develop and he should begin to express the male characteristics of facial hair, pubic hair, and deepening voice.
Boy’s receptor sites are intended for the hormone testosterone, but if they are occupied by soy estrogens instead, appropriate development may never takes place.
Sales of soy infant formula have seen a steep growth trend for more than 30 years, so it is probably not coincidental that pediatricians are reporting greater numbers of boys whose physical maturation is either delayed or does not occur at all. Breasts, behavioral problems, underdeveloped gonads, and cryptorchidism (undescended testicles) are increasingly common. sperm counts are way down, and sperm quality has also declined. 
Pediatricians are seeing so many of these over-estrogenized boys today that they’ve come up with the term “Developmental Estrogenization Syndrome.” 
Sadly, soy infant formula is not the only culprit.
Environmental chemicals in plastics, pesticides, factory-farmed meats and fluoridated tap water all play roles in the estrogenizing of our men.
Abundant soy phytoestrogens from infancy also have been linked to rising rates of ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, and visual spatial difficulties. [10,11,12]
Baby Girls On Soy Infant Formula
We’ve seen a tremendous rise in precocious puberty, which is defined as puberty occurring in girls under the age of 7.  In 1901, the normal age of onset of menses was 13-14. Environmental estrogens from plastics and pesticides have also been implicated.
These little girls are potentially being robbed of their carefree girlhood. Soy formula-fed baby girls are more likely to have lifelong menstrual and reproductive problems (primarily longer and more painful periods), anovulatory cycles (cycles in which no egg is released), amenorrhea (failure to menstruate), impaired follicular development (follicles failing to mature and develop into healthy eggs), erratic hormonal surges, changes in fertility, and other problems.
As breast tissue depends on estrogen for development and functioning, the presence of soy estrogens at a susceptible time likely predispose girls to breast cancer. [15,16]
Finding Direction in a Minefield
It’s outrageous that most conventional baby formulas in the store contain GMOs (via corn and soy) and milk from cows treated with antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. Even organic formulas aren’t great with some containing carrageenan, synthetic preservatives, refined sugars with detectable levels of arsenic, and DHA extracted with hexane.
I’ve talked with parents who mistakenly believe that genetically-modified soy is the main problem and that buying organic soy infant formula is protective for their infant. In a helpful and detailed read, nutrition expert Charlotte Vallaeys explores what organic formulas offer as a safer alternative.
The BEST Alternatives To Consider Including WAPF’s Broth-Based Formula
Several Mamas I know have made their own baby formula (Weston A. Price Foundation has several recipes). In the event your baby has a true milk allergy, a video shows how to make a hypoallergenic meat based formula. And HERE!
Soy infant formula should be used only when all other options are exhausted…as a last resort.
Please read ALL organic labels…some use soy and some don’t. Know your product!
- 170 Scientific Reasons to Lose the Soy in Your Diet
- Homemade Goats Milk Formula for Babies
- How neonatal plant estrogen exposure leads to adult infertility
- Ask Dr. Sears: Soy Formulas?
- Daniel, Kaayla T. op cit, 331–378. Overview of the scientific literature on the effects of soy formula and soy foods on male and female reproductive system development with 201 references.
- Ibid. 295-309 and 331-378.
- Franke, AA, Custer LG et al. Quantification of phytoestrogens in legumes by HPLC. J Agric Food Chem, 1994, 42, 1905-13.
- Markiewicz J, Garey J et al. In vitro bioassays of non-steroidal phytoestrogens. J Steroids Biochem Mol Biol, 1993, 45, 5, 399-405.
- Irvine CHG, Fitzpatrick MG, Alexander SL. Phytoestrogens in soy-based infant foods: concentrations, daily intake and possible biological effects. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med, 1998, 217, 247-253.
- Setchell KDR, Zimmer-Nechemias L et al. Exposure of infants to phytoestrogens from soy infant formula. Lancet, 1997, 350, 9070.
- Office of the Swiss Federal Health Service Bulletin #28, July 20, 1992.
- Sharpe R, Shakkeback N. Are oestrogens involved in falling sperm counts and disorders of the male reproductive tract? Lancet, 1993, 341, 1292-1345.
- Baskin, Laurence, ed. Hypospadias and Genital Development, Advances in Experimental Biology and Medicine, vol 545. (N.Y. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2004. The definitive textbook.
- Daniel, Kaayla T. op cit, 331–378. Overview of the scientific literature on the effects of soy infant formula and soy foods on male and female reproductive system development with 201 references.
- Hines M. Hormonal and neural correlates of sex-typed behavioral development in human beings. In Marc Haug, ed. The Development of Sex Differences and Similarities in Behavior (Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic, 1993). 131-147.
- Harrison PJ, Everall IP et al. Is homosexuality hardwired? Sexual orientation and brain structure. Psych Med, 1994, 24, 811-16.
- Lund TD, West TW et al. Visual spatial memory is enhanced in female rats BMC Neurosci, 2001, 1, 1-13.
- Giddens, Herman et al. Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice. Study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network, 1997, 99, 4, 505-512.
- Fallon, S, Daniel KT, Sanda W. Responses to Docket 2004Q-0151 Solae Company Health Claim on Cancer. Documents submitted to the FDA, June 14, 2004, January 20, 2005 and April 11, 2005. Posted at www.westonaprice.org under “Soy Alert.”
- Daniel, Kaayla T. The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food (New Trends, 2004). Includes about 200 real-life horror stories that will make you run screaming into your kitchen and toss out anything with soy on the label!
Oh my goodness!! This is terrible!!
All these findings do seem pretty scary. I think the Lord protected us in having soy later (the 4th through the 6th month) instead of those first crucial 3 months. I did pray an awful lot! Still you can’t know the challenges that could exhibit themselves later. I hate that I didn’t know, but just trust that the Lord has it all in His control. I can think of so many things I did wrong and won’t dwell on what I can’t change…I hope bottle-feeding mamas know I’m not judging them with this post.
I have a blog myself, so I rarely comment negatively on someone else’s blog. I know how discouraging and isolating this can feel. However, I am very bothered by this article. I’m not intending to disagree with the points you are raising, however, if a baby is allergic to cow’s milk and the mother is not able to breastfeed, what alternative would you suggest? Most mothers do not merely choose soy for no reason at all. Nor do they choose it because their child is mildly fussy. Many babies have life-threatening allergies to milk. If you are going to write such a passionate, convicting, opinionated article, I suggest that you have an alternative suggestion available for mothers whose children have severe allergies to other cow’s milk formulas.
Jessica, I do have some alternatives listed including a WAPF video on how to make meat-based broth, but it wasn’t as visible as it should have been. I want into the post and added a few lines plus a header to make them moreso. I hope I am able to take constructive criticism. Thank you for pointing this out to me because I do want to serve and not harm. I kept wondering how to make sharing this important truth not come across as just my rigid opinion. I am so thankful we can trust that the Lord has all of this confusing world and the trials we face as mothers in His wise hands! His ways are higher than ours, for sure 🙂
Thank you for your kind response, and thank you for adding that additional material to the post. I actually researched that W.A. Price meat-broth formula for my son, but couldn’t find any legitimate recipes that didn’t include whey in some form. I believe some mothers have tried it with liver oil or other substitutes, but the recipes I found seemed more hearsay than conventional at the time for me, a first-time overwhelmed mom. I wish there were/was a safer option more readily available for babies like my own who have life-threatening allergies to milk. At the time, six years ago, I hated the idea of soy, but did what I thought was best. I am grateful that as you said, He holds our children in our hands, even though our mistakes.
Jessica, my heart goes out to moms in the situation. I sure remember. It was heart-wrenching and a very confusing time. We do the best we can!
Thanks for your input!
If you read the whole article, you would see that she includes an entire section on “alternatives to consider.” Soy formula is not the only answer.
My friend is making her own formula since she had to quite nursing due to another pregnancy. She won’t give him anything but the best!!!
I am grateful that there is more information out there now. My brother and I were both fed formula and, sadly, my brother had soy formula as he couldn’t tolerate milk based formula. I believe it was one of several things that hurt his development, though I would never share this with my mom.
Thank you for being willing to put this information out there even though it is controversial.
One thing I’ve learned is that even though we do things “right” there may still be health issues with our children. Two of my kids have food and other allergies.This is despite a “nourishing traditions” diet and a probiotics regimen during and after delivery. There are no guarantees and we have to deal with what God gives us.
Blessings to you and, again, thanks for spreading the word.
I think we Moms are always feeling like we didn’t do things right of good enough! That is where the Lord comes in and we just have to give it up and do our best! No guilt, condemnation, and no comparison…just what the Lord allows in His sovereign mercy and grace! Thanks, Erin! I totally agree with you!! 🙂
Hi there! I just wanted to comment to a few things to your post, as I am a pediatric nurse, specialized in Gastroenterology. You wrote that milk protein allergies in babies often present themselves when milk-based formulas are introduced, but actually, if a baby is truly allergic to milk proteins, it would present itself if he were breastfed as well (assuming mom had dairy in her diet). It’s always best to see the doctor when these symptoms present themselves (blood in the stool, extreme irritability, feeding difficulties)…rather then switching around different formulas. Or mom can go on an elimination diet if she absolutely is against formula. Gastroenterologists and nutritionists rarely offer soy as an alternative (for some reasons you mentioned but also because the child will likely have intolerance to soy as well), and instead they recommend more broken-down formulas–some requiring a complete elemental (broken down proteins, etc) formula. Yes, the labels on formulas are “scary”, but they are created by very intelligent scientists whose jobs are creating a milk most closely resembling mother’s milk. A formula is actually MUCH safer than these crazy goat’s milk based formulas or bone broth ones on the Price website. Goat’s milk is created for baby GOATS–just as we shouldn’t be feeding our infants cow’s milk before the age of one, the same goes for other animal milks. Goats milk is actually extremely unsafe for children under the age of 1…can cause all sorts of kidney problems and imbalances in the body. Sometimes natural is not always safe. I just had to let you know!
Thank you, Emily, for your comment and thoughts on this. After using a soy formula for 2 months (which the pediatrician recommended), I went back to the breast (I pumped all during that time O.o) with an elimination diet as you mentioned, and I found the twins did very well when I went back. They had what I chalked up to be colic and when it was over, they were great nursers until 14 mo.
I have twin 1 year olds, so I’m familiar with the challenges of feeding twin infants, too! Elimination diet and pumping/nursing…wow! Being a mom is a beautiful picture of laying your life down for another. Glad I found your blog.
My oldest daughter was put on soy formula at 2 weeks at the recommendation of our pediatrician. I was so clueless and had no idea how to take care of a baby (and I was 33 yo) and just accepted that my pediatrician knew the right things to do. She was on it for the whole first year of her life. So far, she is almost 12-1/2 and though she’s starting to have the body changes, she hasn’t started getting “her monthly invoice” yet (my husband is a CPA and I have an accounting background-LOL!). She also has Asperger’s so I’m trying to do my best to prepare her for “that day”. Ugh, autism and hormones are a not so pretty combo.
I’ve kicked myself for being to trusting of a pediatrician that obviously was all about conventional medicines. If the Lord shows His sense of humor and blesses us with another (I’m turning 46 in a few weeks), I would be so much better prepared and will know to dig deep on anything relating to my children.
Oh, Cheryl, My heart is with you. I knew so little and did soy for a while, too. I am glad you could talk about and share your story here for other Mamas. While I wish our kids came with instructions, I realize it is our dependence on the Lord that causes us to grow and call out to Him! Thank you for letting me know how to pray for you and your daughter. May the Lord extend much grace and mercy on you both and if it His will bring another child. I love the ‘monthly invoice’ moniker! Clever 🙂 xoxo
I apologize that I have not been able to answer your question sooner. I will email you within the hour!
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