How Important Is Milk For Toddlers?

How Important Is Milk For Toddlers?
How Important Is Milk For Toddlers?

Ever wondered why we choose milk as the preferred dietary intake for babies more than any other form of food? In fact, milk is the only food we willingly give babies several times a day. As soon as a baby is born, mothers give breast milk or formula. It could be one of the reasons why the focus on milk remains well into the later years.

According to WHO, “Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.”

1. Role Of Breast Milk During For Toddlers

A toddler is a child aged between 1 to 3 years. Most children are breast fed as infants and then gradually weaned off mother’s milk during their toddler years (majority get weaned off when they are 18 to 24 months old).

The normative standard for infant feeding recommends breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and suggests continuing it for 1 to 2 years of life or longer. According to a study, breastfeeding for more than a

year combined with low sugar sweetened beverage intake can reduce the prevalence of obesity in Hispanic toddlers.1

Breastfed children are nourished with immunity-boosting properties compared to the ones that are formula fed.

For Growth And Development

Breast milk contain vitamins, minerals, anti-infective properties and bio-active components, aiding in a baby’s growth and development. The essential fatty acids in human milk aid in the cognitive function and enhances the growth of the central nervous system visual acuity. Human milk protects against various infections and inflammation, aiding in organ development and healthy microbial colonization.

When a new mom starts breastfeeding, the milk starts off as colostrum. The composition of the milk varies within feeds and between mothers. Some of the differential factors are maternal, environmental, the expression and management of milk.2

2. When Toddlers Consume Both Mother’s Milk And Cow’s Milk

Regardless of the mother’s diet, human milk lacks sufficient Vitamin K and thus,

the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an injection of this vitamin to prevent hemorrhagic disease of the newborn. Human milk can also be low in Vitamin D if the mothers’s sun exposure reduces. Pediatric recommendations target postnatal vitamin D supplements to in.3

Cow’s milk is an excellent source of Calcium and Vitamin D. Vitamin K is significantly lesser in cow’s milk which can be substituted by the consumption of cheese. It can be said that what toddlers lack in mother’s milk, they can make up for it by consuming cow’s milk. And the stage where toddlers consume both mother’s milk and cow’s milk is the ideal stage to derive the best of both diets.

3. When Toddlers Move On To Cows Milk Or Don’t Drink Any Milk At All

Cow’s milk is usually introduced once the lactating mother decides to wean off the infant from breastfeeding or if she feels that it needs a more wholesome dietary intake.

According to a study, children avoided milk for three primary reasons: intolerance, bad taste and lifestyle choice. The study deduced that children who

avoided drinking milk were shorter than peers, had smaller skeletons and a lower total-body bone mineral content. The study concluded that the long-term avoidance of cow’s milk among growing children could have deplorable consequences such as a smaller stature and poor bone health.4

Other Sources Of Milk’s Nutrients

The nutrients contained in Cow’s milk could also be obtained from a combination of other foods (vegans and those allergic to dairy can mix and match where they get these nutrients from). But for those who can drink milk, cow’s milk is an excellent single source to get a balanced set of essential nutrients.

Suffice to say that consumption of milk is an integral part of a toddler’s life and must be added to your toddler’s everyday diet. Stick to organic full fat milk from pasture-raised, grass fed cows.