After 12 months, nutrition continues to play a pivotal role in your child’s growth and development. By their first birthday, they have likely already tried many foods and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), can now be introduced to whole cow’s milk. Whole milk, sometimes referred to as 4% fat milk, offers your little one a wide range of nutrients including high-quality protein, a fat source important for growing brains, vitamin D, and calcium. Developed with pediatricians, Growing Years™ Organic Whole Milk contains all the nutrients of whole milk plus it is fortified with choline, omega-3 DHA and prebiotics.
Sometimes, the first introduction to whole cow’s milk may not go as planned and your child may not like its taste initially. However, there are other ways of introduction that can help ease the transition. Whole cow’s milk can be combined with breastmilk or infant formula to help your little one adjust to its taste. It is important to note that if using in combination with infant formula, the infant formula must be prepared correctly with water according to package instructions prior to mixing with whole milk. Whole milk can also be added to cereals or mixed with gravies and sauces in place of breastmilk or infant formula. It should also be noted that whole milk can be a part of a snack or meal but should not be consumed in place of a snack or meal, as it could displace other nutrients. Whole milk consumption recommendations at one year of age are 16 oz per day, but no more than 24 oz per day due to potential displacement of iron-rich foods.
SWITCHING TO A CUP
The AAP also notes the importance of transitioning from the bottle beginning at around one year of age because of its relationship to weight gain, increased risk for tooth decay, and potential for iron deficiency through the displacement of iron-rich foods in your child’s diet. By this age, your child’s dexterity skills are advancing, allowing grabbing for, holding, and releasing objects, such as cups and toys. Paired with your child’s increased ability to grasp and hold objects, the introduction to a sippy cup or open cup is possible. The AAP recommends children be completely weaned off the bottle between 18 and 24 months. Further, AAP notes that it is optimal to switch to an open cup as soon as your child is able; continued use of a sippy cup has been associated with the same consequences as continued bottle feeding mentioned previously.
There are some other considerations to take into account during transition. Children younger than 24 months should not consume any other dairy milk other than whole milk because whole milk has a higher fat content, which is important for young children. The AAP also notes that children also should not consume milk when laying down to sleep as it can increase risk of choking, tooth decay, and ear infection.
REDUCED-FAT MILK AFTER 24 MONTHS
After the second year of life, your child has continued to develop new skills, likely having mastered the art and science of steadily holding and drinking from an open cup. At this point, some parents may choose to change their child to a dairy milk containing a lower fat content. Though not necessary, a slow transition may be considered, particularly if your child notices a taste or texture difference that is not well-accepted. In doing so, whole milk can be switched out to 2%, then to 1%, and to skim, if desired. However, some parents may opt to continue providing their child with whole milk which is also acceptable and can be consumed as part of a healthy diet. In fact, observational research suggests continued consumption of whole dairy milk during childhood is not associated with an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. At two years, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consumption of 2 to 2.5 servings of dairy per day, which can include fluid milk.