Best Milk for Toddlers
Recently I have done a fair bit of research into which milk is best for toddlers as many mums seem to be concerned about whether their little ones should be drinking cows milk, low fat milk or toddler formula beyond their first birthday.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a baby’s first 6 months and for breastfeeding to continue until at least 2 years of age. So I guess if you’re breastfeeding your toddler then the formula verses cow’s milk issue isn’t relevant to you, that’s one less thing to worry about, YAY!
The Australian manufacturers and importers of infant formula have entered into a voluntary agreement that adheres to the principles of the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. Basically the code and the agreement prevent formula for babies 12 months and under to be advertised in Australia. The reason for this agreement and its advertising restrictions is to protect breastfeeding.
However, these restrictions do not apply to toddler and follow on formulas. So by labelling toddler formulas as “gold” or “formula”, marketing companies are able to advertise baby formula simply by association. This may be one of the reasons for such heavy advertising of toddler formulas.
Bellinda Kontominas a Medical Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald (06/09/07) quotes a Sydney paediatrician Dr Patricia McVeagh as she said “Unfortunately the advertising preys on parents’ vulnerability… Nutritionally there is no need for toddler milk in healthy kids, and it’s much better to have 600 millilitres of cow’s milk or a cow’s milk product like cheese or yoghurt.”
And while many nutritionists will tell you that formula is the equivalent of junk food, I guess to be fair it does have its place. It can supplement the diet of fussy eaters and children that could be missing out on iron and calcium due to their restricted diets. And while there are other ways to combat fussiness there are times when real life takes over and the demands of work, other children, partners etc can make toddler formulas convenient.
During my research I was surprised to find that it has been recommended in the National Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents that all children in Australia over the age of 2 years consume reduced-fat milk. This is because the saturated fats in full fat milk accumulate in the arteries over time increasing the risk of heart disease, and that the reduced-fat milk varieties generally contain more calcium than the full fat milks.
On the other hand, toddlers between the ages of 12 – 24 months do need the full fat milks and while soy milk shouldn’t be offered to babies under 12 months, toddlers over 2 years with a lactose intolerance can be offered soy milk that contains added calcium.
So the end of the day keeping things simple is usually the best way to go. Cows milk is great for toddlers, it contains everything they need to grow healthy and strong. It’s cheaper than formula, easily available if you’re out, it’s great on cereal and it’s something you wont have to wean your toddler off as they get older. So why complicate things by using toddler formula if you don’t have to?
Lorraine Cuadro volunteers much of her time in helping new and experienced mums to breastfeed. As a mother of two she has experienced many breastfeeding issues first hand. Her passion for breastfeeding is supported by her role as a breastfeeding counsellor. For free access to a fantastic and growing breastfeeding library visit Lorraine at http://www.the-essence-of-breastfeeding.com.