I was lucky enough to breastfeed Jameson for as long as I wanted to, and I'm forever grateful for that. I was also lucky enough to have the confidence not to give him cow's milk even when pediatricians everywhere are trained to encourage it.
Everyone has a different opinion and story about weaning, and I think that's great. Every mom's choice is a good choice in my opinion. This is just our story.
When I was ready to wean and finally found a plant based milk I was comfortable giving to him, I also realized there wasn't a lot of helpful information out there on how to actually start. In the moment it was overwhelming, but true to any child phase- hindsight is always 20/20. Hopefully by sharing how I introduced plant based milk, slowly in place of breastmilk, I can inspire others to do the same or at the very least, make it less intimidating!
The truth is I didn't even worry about other types of milk or formula for a long time because I took so much comfort in knowing he was getting the best nutrients he possibly could from the very milk that has been fine tuned by nature over thousands of years to nourish a rapidly growing child. I know breastfeeding isn't for everyone but it was a natural biological progression for both of us after birth, and I loved being able to provide that for him. I know how lucky I am for that, but I attribute having such a good milk supply mostly to my diet- but more on that at another time.
Besides learning to love breastfeeding (which definitely took some time), I was deeply fueled by not being confident in a certified organic vegan formula option available in the U.S. I also knew I couldn't give him anything else besides breastmilk until he was at least 1, because that is when it is safe to introduce other milks. And as a new mom, literally all you care about its safety.
However for those that are looking for the best vegan formula I have heard a lot of good things about the European brand, Premiriz, that ships to the states. There are some soy formulas that aren't completely vegan (but still better than dairy) available in the states you can read more about here.
More than organic clothes or cleaning products, I believe that the best possible thing I can do for his health is to put the best nutrients in his body that I can find. Building a strong immune system through the gut can combat just about anything "toxic" he comes across environmentally.
I don't have a local plant based pediatrician to recommend anything to me so I rely a lot on my own research when it comes to Jameson and many times I am the one educating the doctor on it. However if we didn't move so much I think I would definitely take some time to find a pediatrician more familiar with plant based nutrition which I encourage others to do as well. In Switzerland it is especially hard because they basically refuse to recommend anything that isn't cow's milk during years 1-3 of their life. The U.S is much more ahead in my experience and I applaud them for that.
Regardless, I knew around 1 year old I wanted to try to start introducing a plant milk to Jameson and weaning him off breastmilk. I knew I wanted to introduce either pea milk (like Ripple Milk), or Silk iron fortified soy milk because those have the best protein and vitamin D, B12, and calcium content most similar to breast milk.
Plant -based Juniors and Plant-based pediatrician Dr. Jackie Busse were my go-to sources on this. Dr. Busse even provides a milk comparison chart on her site. Their instagram accounts and their highlighted stories touch a lot on the subject of what milk to introduce so I recommend following them!
Over here in Switzerland it took some time to find a similar iron fortified soy milk I was comfortable with but after some hunting I found a great option that I get shipped from the UK: Alpro Soya Growing up Drink 1-3 years. This not only is fortified with iron but with Vitamin D, calcium, and B12 too which is so comforting to me- plus Jameson loves it! The UK is way farther ahead in plant based changes than the rest of Europe so wasn't surprised that this is only available there.
During this process, I also ordered some Bebe Latte 12-24 months powder (An amazing brand a hockey friend from Montreal started) that I had every intention of giving him throughout the day, however he didn't love the taste as much. I am in love with the brand so I'm not giving up and going to try to mix it into smoothies or into his soy milk. The nutrients in the Bebe Latte are unlike anything else out there so I really want to keep trying.
Once I finally knew what milk I wanted to give him and I tried to research how to wean, there wasn't much info out there and just so many different ways to do it so I was pretty overwhelmed. I realize now it is because every single baby is different and every single mom is different.