One thing synonymous to healthy growth of a child is MILK. We’ve all grown up drinking milk throughout our early life and are still continuing to do so.
While I have already discussed about the need and negative impact of milk on an adult, let’s explore just how much milk is good milk even for a child. Especially when everyone around us advices to give the kid “THE HOLY WHOLE FOOD”.
Why is milk loved so much?
Well, milk is after all the first thing a baby tastes and consumes after it is born. Thus, a huge amount of importance is attached to the first food and rightly so.
Milk is extremely beneficial for the initial growth and development of the brain, bones and overall health of the baby. Hence, you can see every mammal in the animal kingdom feeding their babies. And while you recollect that, you might also want to realize that every other specie stops breast-feeding the new born after a certain amount of time. It is only the humans that have resorted to subjecting the child to excess of milk, hoping the excessive amounts will bring in more positive results. But even here, the age old adage stands true – “Too much of anything is bad!”
Milk is good but to what extent?
The healthiest milk out there is cow’s milk and your baby is bound to move on from breast milk or bottle fed milk to whole milk eventually. But know this, NHS guidelines state that ‘whole cows’ milk can be given as a main drink from the age of one.
Starting milk isn’t as big a problem as knowing when to stop. While some parents have been told by health visitors to stop giving it from the age of two, others have been told there is no harm carrying on with it until children are older. It is also recommended moving to semi-skimmed once a child is two. But that’s only if a child is a good eater and growing well for their age. And providing a child isn’t overweight, there is no harm in carrying on with full fat milk until they are older.
What are the problems with cow’s milk?
- Cow’s milk is a foreign substance that has pervaded every corner of our diets – starting with artificial infant feeds, but finding its way into mother’s breastmilk through the foods she eats as well.
- Infant health problems such as childhood diabetes, obesity, bowel disease, osteoporosis, heart disease, cataracts, colic, ear infections, hyperactivity, and cancer, on the rise in both children and adults, can be strongly linked to infant feeding choices.
- The proteins in cow’s milk are different from human milk proteins and cause problems of digestion, intolerance, impaired absorption of other nutrients, and autoimmune reactions.
- Human babies need the saturated fats and cholesterol in mother’s milk. Bovine milk fat is not appropriately composed for human babies and is only deleterious to the health of children and adults
- Cows now have high levels of hormones that help them grow the fastest and produce the greatest amount of milk. Cows also concentrate pesticides and pollutants into their milk fat, from their high dietary food and water requirements. And hence, heavy milk consumption is associated with increased osteoporosis.
- It’s assumed that high calcium intake before puberty, and especially in young childhood, may have some slight positive effect on bones, but it is not so.
- A balanced diet consisting of all the bone minerals, along with adequate vitamin A, C, D, and K, is needed. But dairy’s high calcium causes relative deficiencies in magnesium and other bone-building minerals, and its high phosphorus and animal protein reduces calcium availability.
- Cow’s milk and its derivatives today make up half to two-thirds of caloric intake in children, thus replacing so much other important, nutritious food needed in the diet. This leads to insufficient intake of important vitamins, several minerals, and healthy fibre and vegetable oils.
- Milk has two kinds of proteins, whey protein and casein. At times, milk may have a few injurious casein constituents that may augment threat of heart disease and autism. A few children might be sensitive to casein in milk that will direct stern response.
- It is a myth that milk causes early puberty in girls. Early puberty can happen for many reasons – stress, eating habits, pollutants being a few of those. It is unlikely that milk is responsible for any change in the age at which girls enter puberty. Milk has always contained natural bovine growth hormones (BST) in very small amounts. Some dairy producers administer the synthetic version of this hormone (rBST) to increase milk production in their cows. But this is a protein hormone, destroyed in human digestion, not a steroid hormone like estrogen.
How should I administer milk to my child?
- When your child switches to whole milk, it is advised to give them raw organic milk and not the one chemically treated.
- Once children are over five the advice is to ‘choose lower fat varieties of milk and dairy products where possible’, to cut down on the amount of saturated fat which is associated with raised blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk.
- It is recommended that children between the ages of one and three need to have around 350mg of calcium a day. About 300ml of milk would suffice.
- Therefore, as per your doctor’s recommendation and child’s growth, you switch to whole milk after the age of one and slowly switch it to skimmed milk over the age of five, slowly reducing it until you eliminate it from everyday diet after the age of 7-8 years.
Hope this is information enough to take the first step in your journey of making your baby the healthiest and happiest. It is always recommended that you consult your doctor before making any changes. Should you have any questions, drop a comment below and I will be happy to help you out.