Fish can contain mercury. Meat can contain hormones. Fruit can contain pesticides. What’s a health-conscious parent to do? These days, even soy is controversial. Some studies say the plant estrogens in soy protect against breast cancer, while other studies say those same plant estrogens induce breast cancer. The controversy also stems from the fact that most soy has been genetically modified to increase productivity and resistance to fungi and pests, although toxicity from genetically engineered foods has not been demonstrated conclusively.
Controversies aside, soy is basically a good nutrient. It contains lots of protein, and, although this is not a relevant concern for young kids, it helps decrease cholesterol levels. Soy’s high protein content makes it a good meat substitute for vegetarian diets, and babies can eat tofu just as soon as solid foods are introduced. The main drawback to soy is that it doesn’t contain much calcium. But that mineral is found in many other foods, such as yogurt, cheese, broccoli, waffles, cereals, calcium-fortified orange juice, and even similarly fortified soy milk. Soy formula has the same nutritional value as dairy-based formula. As for soy milk, you can give it to infants from ten months on, just like cow’s milk.