My almost 3 yr old has been on raw milk for 2 years, but our source has run dry and we have just recently gone to strict paleo (whole30 challenge). I've had her on Almond milk for a few weeks now and I'm thinking, "is this really all that good for her? I mean she is consuming alot of almonds." Then I thought maybe coconut milk would be better??? I just don't know. I'm somewhat new to this whole family paleo plan and want her to get the best nutrition.
Also, I have a 6 month old who is breastfed and I was wondering for him too what would be best when we move him off breastmilk at a year old.
I know I'm probably opening up a can of worms, and I'm not trying to criticize your choices, but... in traditional societies (ie, the roots of paleo) children aren't moved off of breastmilk at 1 year, and are generally still nursing at 3 years. I do extended nursing myself (nursed my first until she was four, and 20 month old is going strong) so I don't worry about a dairy substitute for them: they drink water. But, I do realize that in our culture, extended nursing isn't the norm for a variety of reasons.
With that all that in mind (and to actually answer your question rather than proselytize), I would personally really reconsider the idea of "strict paleo" for children. I would look at goat's milk, probably, or non-homogenized, low-heat pasteurized cow's milk. I wouldn't consider almond milk an acceptable substitute at all, and coconut milk would be fine for other uses, but once again, not as a substitute.
Stepping off soapbox now...
How was your daughter doing on raw milk? If she was doing well and thriving, you may want to consider keeping her on it. It can be tricky to get enough nutrient dense foods into young children, and I think that if they digest dairy well, especially goat milk, then there's not really a reason to give it up. Almond milk is not a replacement nutritionally, plus almonds are pretty rich in omega 6 fatty acids to consume frequently. My kids are a bit older, but they both do well on raw goat milk, and love it, so they still get it, and I feel good about it...
I don't have kids, but my thought would be to avoid almond milk. I don't see much of a problem for a 3 yr old to be on organic whole milk, even if it's pastuerized.
Why would you even consider almond milk (I like it, but not for children).
Have you searched for raw goats milk, if you can't find cow milk?
How about bone stocks? Wouldn't it be comforting to drink it warm? Hmmm! :-) You can also give it to your baby, but probably not as a main meal. If you're looking or breastmilk replacement when you wean your baby, try http://www.westonaprice.org/search/search?q=baby+formula+recipe (scroll down)
By th way, is this milk meant as a meal, as in breastfeeding, or is it meant as a comforting snack, before bed, before nap, when upset, for example? Or are you just concerned about getting enough fat into your toddler's diet? If so, feed more animal fat when cooking her fatty meats, and coconut oil and coconut milk in curries.
If coconut milk vs almond milk is your only choice, then I think coconut milk it is! Make sure it's got as little ingredients as possible, specially make sure to avoid guar gum.
My daughter is almost a year and im going back to work part time soon so i have to try and figure outa substitute for her. So i went to planet organic and spoke to a very knowledgeable woman about my non dairy options and she reccomended unsweetened coconut milk, but im sure for ur 2 year old u can do original. She said to first do a bottle of half breastmilk, half coconut milk (So Delicious organic brand). Also she said for extra essential oils we can add a teaspoon of udos oil to the bottle, and to help with digestion, pureed (or already in power form) Pineapple. but she said the straight coconut milk is a great choice on its own. i give her vitamin D anyways so i will continue doing that too. it doesnt really have any flavor (the unsweetened one, original has some sweetner of some sort) but i love coconut milk! for cooking, tea, everything! and most importantly, My daughter likes it. I wanted to go non dairy because 1. I was lactose inteolerant as a child, 2. when i would try some dairy with my daughter, she would get an upset tummy and be gassy and poop a lot (some were liquidy)
anyways Its great that ur able to get donated milk for ur son, and hope u are able to keep doing it as long as possible!
My son is 15 months and gets a mixture of 1/2 goats and 1/4 almond, and 1/4 coconut. The almond and coconut milk actually is now made in a mixture by "Blue Diamond" and I make sure to get unsweetened and fortified for the vitamins.
Try milk kefir. You can make it from pasturized cow milk--changing the milk into a very healthy probiotic, a healthy form of milk intake. We are doing the Paleo diet as well, and our only dairy consumption is milk kefir which we make from live kefir grains--we blend fresh kefir milk with frozen fruit for breakfast every morning. It is delicious...and really helps to curb unhealthy cravings. (If you're opposed to using dairy, there is also the option of water kefir)
Health benefits of milk kefir as quoted from a google search: "The cultures' chemical changes make the milk much easier to digest, allowing the body to absorb more of the naturally present nutrients. The transformation of lactose to lactic acid allows people, even t hose with lactose intolerance, to digest kefir and get its full benefits.Kefir is high in calcium, amino acids, B-vitamins and folic acid. Kefir can play a vital role in the development of a healthy digestive tract in babies, as it protects against negative effects of radiation and helps improve the immune system. Kefir's friendly cultures also produce specific antibiotic substances which can control undesirable microorganisms and act as anti-carcinogenic factors. Kefir also helps to enhance bowel function and control candida - a condition where there is an excessive growth of yeast cells."
Keep in mind that the preference against dairy in the paleo society is not that dairy is inherently bad, but that the majority of us grow out of the ability to tolerate it with age. Also, from an anthropological perspective, milk is not typically fed to adults, as it is the food preference for infants and young children. With this in mind, I'd rethink a non-dairy approach to feeding young children. The Weston A Price website has some interesting information on how/what to feed young children as they're being weaned and in the event one can't breastfeed.
However! You pointed out that the milk issue for your elder was more a matter of a treat. In such a case, I'd say if he's getting plenty of nutrients from other sources, then coconut milk wold be preferable over almond. Native Forest is a good BPA-free variety but contains guar gum. Other generic brands are gum-free, but are in BPA-lined cans. Personally, I think the risk of BPA on young children outweighs the risk of gut irritation by gums, but this is a personal choice. It is also possible to make your own coconut milk, if you're into DIY stuff like that...
I would strongly advise against consumption of storebought almond and coconut milk. Vitamin D2, frequently an ingredient, is highly problematic. Plus, I'm sure the almonds in storebought almond milk haven't been soaked to reduce antinutrients.
For more information, see: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/coconut-and-almond-milk-in-cartons-not-a-healthy-buy/
There is nothing in raw milk that can't be obtained from a nutrient-dense diet. I'd stick to just that until you can get raw milk again. If your daughter must have some sort of milk, try the homemade almond/coconut milk recipes found in the above link.