My friend asked a simple question “I don’t personally like cow’s milk so do I have to give it to my baby when she turns 1?”. The question slowly turn into a conversation with other moms about organic vs. non-organic, grass-fed vs. non grass-fed cows, and why other milk options are or aren’t as beneficial to babies. Every mom involved had a strong opinion! Who knew a simple question could spark a debate?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children delay receiving cow’s milk until after they are 12 months old. The organization recommends pasteurized, whole cow’s milk for most babies because of the high fat content helping to absorb vitamins and minerals and for brain development. If there is a history of childhood obesity, 2% milk may be recommended but families should talk to their pediatrician. (Source: www.aap.org)
But what to do if you’re not a fan of cow’s milk? Or worse, what if your baby has a milk allergy or intolerance? Cow’s milk is important for calcium, vitamin D, protein, fat, and hydration. There are so many milk options out there: soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and more coming to a store near you! Their nutrient compositions are similar to cow’s milk but nothing is exactly the same. It’s a very personal decision how to feed your child, and one that you should talk about with your pediatrician and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. If you decide to switch to an alternative milk, make sure you supplement with other foods that contain the important nutrients your baby needs.
I was shocked that some moms would argue against cow’s milk, but why not try to see where they are coming from? There are a lot of nutrition myths out there about food and I heard a lot of them that day, ranging from hormones in milk to absorbable calcium. Nutrition information is everywhere, but moms should really look to pediatricians and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for advice. I took the opportunity to educate my friends about dairy products and nutrition, and also stressed the importance that all foods fit into a healthy diet. Moms and dads shouldn’t feel ashamed about any nutrition decision they make for their family. After all, it’s a very personal decision as to how to feed your children. So what is this dietitian going to do? I will give my baby whole cow’s milk when he turns one year old. I will also let him try different kinds of milk with an attitude that all foods fit into a healthy lifestyle.