Most health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), agree that during the first year of life, babies should get either breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
After the first year, it’s okay to introduce cow’s milk to your baby’s diet around the time many babies start eating more solid food. But what kind of milk is best? Experts recommend feeding your baby whole milk. Whole milk matches the higher fat needs of growing babies (breast milk and infant formula contain about half their calories as fat). The fat content of whole milk fuels the continued neurological development and overall growth of your young child.
When a baby turns two years old, the AAP recommends switching to a lower fat milk, such as two percent or one percent cow’s milk, if the child’s growth and development is normal. This switch is recommended to reduce the chance of childhood obesity, and remains the AAP’s official recommendation for healthy children over the age of two.
A 2013 study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood found that drinking low-fat milk was more common in overweight or obese preschoolers. Despite this, researchers found that drinking low-fat or skim milk “does not appear to restrain body weight gain between 2 and 4 years of age.”
Milk itself is not considered a major cause of excess weight gain in young children. Sugary drinks such as soda and fruit juices have been found to be a bigger culprit in the epidemic of childhood obesity. Be sure to talk with your pediatrician if you have questions about your child’s nutrition or if you are thinking about switching your baby to cow’s milk.
- Archives of Disease in Childhood
- Longitudinal evaluation of milk type and obesity in preschoolers.
- Starting skim milk.
National Public Radio
- Whole milk or skim?
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