First, coconut milk can never be a substitute for mother’s milk, let alone cow’s milk that can result in severe dehydration and iron deficiencies in babies. As a matter of fact, mother’s milk is the purest food substance. Sometimes, even milk substitutes including milk powder may lead to skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, blood in stool and breathing trouble.
If your baby is allergic to diary-based products, you may go for a soy-based formula based on your doctor’s recommendations. If your baby is prone to allergy due to soy too, you can try out hypoallergenic elemental formulae. No doctor would recommend coconut milk in any case.
Is it Recommended for Toddlers?
Yes, to the extent that they don’t cross the recommended intake of 30 to 35% of calories of fat total per day (for toddlers). Remember one cup of full-fat cow’s milk has about 8gm of fat. The saturated fat content in coconut milk is 10 times that of which is present in full-fat cow’s milk. One cup of coconut milk contains 57gm of fat and 255% of daily recommended consumption of saturated fat. This means you need to keep the consumption of coconut milk as minimum as possible.
Everyday alternatives to coconut milk may include soy milk, hemp milk and flax milk with protein supplements. All said and done Coconut milk contains an appreciable amount of Lauric acid, which is also present in breast milk, though in varying proportions. It protects against bacteria and infections. The body can also burn it much faster than any other fatty acid.
Coconut milk is also relatively rich in iron, niacin and copper. If your grown up kid prefer to have coconut milk or coconut water, it’s absolutely fine. Just make sure they avoid chilled or canned versions of coconut milk as they lack proteins. This said coconut milk cannot fully replace dairy milk anyways.
If your child is allergic to soy, cow’s milk, or other nut milks, he or she shouldn’t fully substitute those with coconut beverages as it may also turn allergic, but not as much as the others do. Notwithstanding the FDA classifying it as a tree nut, coconut is actually a fruit belonging to the Rosaceae family.
Adding coconut milk to sweets, tropical coconut smoothie or light coconut curry is also fine as long as your child enjoys having solid foods.