Is There a ‘Best Time’ to Switch to Full Cream Milk?

You should make the switch only after your toddler has turned one. There is a reason why you have to wait until your toddler turns one before you can start introducing full cream (cow/goat) milk to his or her diet.

Newborns are not able to digest full cream milk as easily and fully as breast milk and formula – that is why full cream milk is not good for babies below the age of one.

A newborn's kidneys may not be able to process the high concentrations of protein and minerals present in full cream milk, which may result in dehydration.

In addition, full cream milk has lower levels of iron and vitamin C than breastmilk. When moms switch to full cream milk too early, babies may miss out on the nutrition they need.

In some babies, switching too early may lead to iron-deficiency anaemia. A blood condition that delays your child's ability to learn, play and stay healthy.

Be sure to check with your doctor before introducing full cream milk to your toddler. Some babies have an allergic reaction to milk. Others have special dietary requirements.

Whole Milk, Semi-Skimmed or Skimmed?

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends whole milk for toddlers between the ages of one and two, unless they are at risk of obesity.

The high level of fat and vitamins is needed for toddlers to grow. If your toddler is eating well, you can start introducing low-fat milk after the age of two.

Avoid feeding your child skimmed milk or non-fat milk below the age of five as these do not contain enough calories and nutrients.

Why Switch to Full Cream Milk?

At the age of one, your child should be getting most of his nutrients from solid food. While milk is still an important source of nutrition, your toddler should be getting most of his calories from a good variety of solid food after one year old. Growing up or fortified formula milk may be more energy-dense than full cream cow’s milk, possibly displacing your child’s appetite for a healthy well-balanced diet.

Moms make the switch also because full cream milk, including fresh milk, UHT and in powder form, is an easily accessible and convenient source of calcium, protein, vitamin D and riboflavin. Riboflavin is an essential B vitamin that supports the growth and development of your baby’s bones, muscles and nerves.

A healthy diet supplemented with full cream milk gives your toddler the nutrition he needs for healthy growth.

How Do I Introduce Full Cream Milk to My Toddler?

Many first-time moms wonder how they should go about offering full cream milk to their toddlers. Here are some common ways.

Mix full cream milk with breast or formula milk

Introduce full cream milk slowly to your toddler by mixing it with breast milk or formula milk. Gradually increase the proportion of full cream milk in the mixture. You can start with a mix of one-quarter full cream milk to three-quarters breast milk or formula milk.

Use full cream milk as an ingredient

Does your toddler enjoy oatmeal? Cook oatmeal with milk instead of water. Does he love smoothies? Add milk. Find foods he already likes and add or mix with milk.

Both ways will help your child slowly get used to the taste. This gives his digestive system more time to adjust to the higher concentrations of milk protein and minerals.

My Toddler Doesn’t Like Full Cream Milk, What Can I Do?

If your toddler does not like full cream milk, another alternative is to feed your toddler yoghurt, cheese and other high-calcium foods to meet his daily calcium requirements.

Milk and other dairy products are usually fortified with vitamin D.

Can I Continue Breastfeeding Instead?

Absolutely. Breastfeeding is the best option. The World Health Organization recommends mothers to continue breastfeeding until the child is 2 years old and older.

Breast milk contains just the right amount of nutrients for your child's growth and development. Your milk production adjusts to your child's hunger, and the composition changes to meet your growing child's nutritional needs. Complement this with a good variety of solid food, including fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and alternatives, to meet his increasing nutrient and caloric needs.

*Under the Nutri-Grade grading system, plain full cream milk is graded C due to its higher saturated fat content compared to low fat milk. For 1-2 year olds, plain full cream milk still meets the dietary requirements of adequate fat, protein, vitamins and minerals which are essential for their growth and development.

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