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All Milks Are Not Created Equal

As part of the big Weaning Plan (see yesterday’s entry) we’ve started
introducing Madeleine to cow’s milk. Being the Paranoid New Mommy that
I am, I sent out a focus group poll to my girlfriends to find out how
they did it. I mean, it seems like there are so many variables involved!

instance, do you mix it with breast milk or formula to get them used to
the taste? Do you serve it room temperature, to seem more like breast
milk, or do you serve it cold so you don’t spend the next three years
heating up your child’s dinner drink? Do you offer it in a bottle, to
seem more familiar, or do you offer it in a sippy cup? Before meals,
when they’re hungry and more likely to drink? After meals, so they
don’t fill up on it and have room for solids? At a nursing time? 

I know, I’m making this way too hard. And what I learned from my
girlfriends is that everyone does what works best for their child; you
sort of figure it out as you go along. So I’ve decided to offer it with
a meal or snack, and simply keep offering it until she starts enjoying
the drink. I’m not mixing it with breast milk; I’m too lazy to pump
enough to mix with it. And I’m not heating it up for the same reason.

been doing a bit of research on the whole cow’s milk thing as I got
ready for the year-check-up permission to go with the cow’s milk
introduction. I learned some interesting things, which I thought I’d
pass on to you.

For one thing, I had this vision of cow’s milk
sort of replacing breast milk. Madeleine only drinks water right now, no
juice, and she only drinks maybe 4 ounces a day, so most of her liquid
intake comes from nursing. I assumed I’d be making up the difference
with the cow’s milk, but the pediatrician said no. Apparently she’s hit
the point where most of her nutrition should come from solids, so we
don’t want her filling up on drinks. She told me not to worry about
dehydration; babies are pretty good at getting what they need, and draw
a lot of water from food as long as they’re getting water-rich foods
like fruits and vegetables. I’m to keep an eye on the saturation of her
diaper, but other than that not worry.

Not only that, but kids
under two years can actually get too much cow’s milk; more than around
20 ounces a day can interfere with a toddler’s ability to absorb iron.
So the AAP recommends not allowing your child to have unlimited milk all

As far as the type of milk, the AAP advises whole milk for
the first two years of life, so toddlers get a decent amount of healthy
fat, which is crucial to brain development. I was pondering buying
organic milk for her, but the AAP (and my pediatrician) say there’s no
need, with no scientific proof it makes any difference except to your
pocket book.

And yes, there is a difference between cow’s milk
and soy and rice milks, primarily nutrition-wise. Cow’s milk is high in
protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Rice milk especially is low in all
three and is considered a poor substitution. Soy milk is better – and
necessary for kids with a milk allergy – but should be chosen carefully.
Many brands of soy milk are unfortified, so look for one that is vitamin
D-fortified or talk to your pediatrician about a vitamin D supplement. I
recently read in a “Newsweek”
  that unfortified brands of soy milk have been
implicated in several recent cases of rickets in infants and toddlers,
which drastically slows bone growth. Soy milk is also lower in good fat,
so it’s important to find fat in other foods, like avocados, if you’re
not offering cow’s milk.

If your child is allergic to cow’s
milk, don’t panic. It’s not the miracle food that all kids need to grow
up strong and healthy. It’s simply a convenient source for many things,
like the fat, protein, and vitamins and minerals. It’s a great
multi-tasking beverage, if you will. But it’s not a magic cure-all. You
can cover the loss in other foods – it just takes a bit more work.

as a final note on the whole milk choice thing, please note that there
is no substitute for the first year of life for either breast milk or
formula. Neither cow’s milk nor soy nor rice nor goat nor iguana milk is
an appropriate replacement. Breast milk and formula are the only two
options for your child’s primary nutrition source for her first year of
life. I was surprised to read in the same “Newsweek” article that the
CDC is reporting nutrition-deficiency cases normally seen in third world
countries in infants fed an inappropriate substitute. Developmental
delays, bone damage, and brain damage can result, so take this seriously.

you want more info on the whole “other” milk thing, you’re welcome to
read up on it yourself. Here are the websites I found most helpful:

Association of Pediatrics

Mom - Other Milk Facts

Baby Food - Other Milks

And I’ll let you know how I do
with Madeleine and cow’s milk; so far she’s taking a few sips and making
a face. I want to tell her she’ll be jonesing for this whole milk stuff
a few decades from now when she’s forced to drink that watery skim
thing, but I don’t think it’d make any difference.


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