Milk and Toddlers
I almost feel like laughing as I write this article because it is one of the most contentious issues when it comes to babies. Milk, who would have thought milk, would make such a great topic and a confusing one at that. Before I even give my opinion, on milk, I know that milk is one of the most allergic foods, in fact it fights for no 1 position with foods like eggs, nuts, fish and wheat. So for sure it can be a ‘little devil’ but yet it is one of the most nutritious foods for babies.
I know this first hand because my son was allergic to milk, after being diagnosed with eczema, the pead listed a number of foods that I was to be careful about when introducing as I started weaning. Before my son turned 1, I used milk to cook some of his food and it never had any effect, I never gave more than 2 ounces, 60 ml if you will. I would boil fish in milk instead of water and some breakfasts, like once in 2 weeks, I would make his drinking chocolate with cow milk instead of formula. It was like inoculation for him just to prepare his body for the day I change from formula to cow milk at 1 year. When he turned 1, I switched to cow milk and his body went into shock and we had a flare up of eczema, for the next 3 weeks, we gave formula for his morning and night milk feed and a cow milk for his lunch time milk feed then did away with formula as his body was now used to cow milk.
I support exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, nothing else but mother’s milk for your infant. As with every mother, I know children who after 6 month of breastfeeding and the mother wants to introduce formula they refuse and all you can remember is your doctor saying that you do not introduce cow milk before baby is one year. Or sometimes you just can’t afford formula. So you do not have enough breast milk for the little one but they just won’t take formula, the healthier option. This is when most mothers advise each other to dilute cow milk for the little one and see if they will take it.
There is an importance to the need to dilute the milk (before baby turns 1) because; Babies can’t digest cow’s milk as completely or easily as breast milk or formula. Cow’s milk contains high concentrations of protein and minerals, which can tax your baby’s immature kidneys. So diluting it makes it lighter and easier for them to digest. Also, cow’s milk doesn’t provide the healthiest types of fat for growing babies.
The other reason to wait up till baby turns one is because; cow’s milk doesn’t have the right amounts of iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients for infants. It may even cause iron-deficiency anemia in some babies, since cow’s milk protein can irritate the lining of the digestive system, leading to blood in the stools
So at one year, the baby is able to digest cow milk and hence no need to dilute it, which is why, doctors recommend waiting till one year. And so, once your child’s ready to digest it, milk becomes an important part of his diet. It’s a rich source of calcium, which builds strong bones and teeth and helps regulate blood clotting and muscle control. And it’s one of the few sources of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and is crucial for bone growth.
Milk also provides protein for growth, as well as carbohydrates, which will give your child the energy he needs to toddle all day. And if your child gets enough calcium from the get-go, there’s evidence that he’ll have a lower risk of high blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer, and hip fractures later in life.
However, don’t offer more than 3 cups (500ml) of milk a day or your child may not have room for the other foods she needs to round out her diet. If your toddler’s still thirsty, offer water.
The main symptoms of milk allergy are blood in the stool, diarrhea, and vomiting. If your child also develops eczema, hives, a rash around the mouth and chin, chronic nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, cough, wheezing, or breathing difficulties, it could be a sign that the respiratory system is being affected by a milk allergy. If your toddler develops any of these symptoms, talk with her doctor. Most children however, outgrow milk allergies by 3 years.
NB. There is a difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy
If your toddler is allergic to milk, try yoghurt because yogurt is more nutritious than cow’s milk for three reasons:
Yogurt contains slightly more calcium.
Yogurt contains healthful bacteria that promote intestinal health.
The fermentation process of yogurt breaks down the proteins and the lactose for easier digestion.
500 ml is the maximum amount of milk your toddler should be taking.
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