Children and Milk

by Lisa Rosen on August 17, 2010

I’ve lately witnessed several parents going out of their way to give a child whole milk, when skim was readily available.  This surprises me.

I sort of thought, at this point, we were all in agreement that whole milk contains a lot of unnecessary saturated fat (5 grams per cup, to be precise).  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends switching kids to skim milk at age 2.   Lots of studies show that arteries can start clogging up during childhood–so what gives?

Milk has some kind of hold on our collective unconscious, it seems.  We equate it with wholesome nutrition–strong bones, strong muscles, smart, clean-cut kids, and that elementary school favorite, the milk mustache.  I think a lot of people think of milk as a basic building block of childhood nutrition.  And it is good stuff, but only if you leave out the saturated fat.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I’ve never had cause to worry that my children weren’t growing adequately.  There were born tall, and have been growing like weeds ever since.  So when they were little, and I encouraged a glass of milk with breakfast, it was because I wanted them to get plenty of calcium, and maybe start the day off with some protein.  It was never because I thought they needed extra calories.

So maybe, if your kids are especially tiny for their age, whole milk is easy way to get in extra calories.  But that just worries me–especially if there’s any family history of heart disease.  Besides, the older kids get, the harder it is to convince them to switch to skim (and that’ll have to happen eventually, right?).

It seems to me that there has to be a better way to grow healthy kids.  Whole wheat toast?  Olive oil?  Lean protein?  An apple with peanut butter?

Maybe it’s just me . . .

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Eileen Woudstra August 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm

At least you have seen mothers offering their children milk at all. I seem to see a lot of kids drinking sodas and sweet tea. Why any mother would think Mt. Dew is a good idea for their kid is beyond me. So the idea of whole milk seems like a great idea over that alternative for sure. Personally, we are a 2% milk household downing about 3 gallons a week. The tall skinny kids can’t get enough of the stuff.

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Lisa Rosen August 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, my kids used to put away a LOT of milk; I always wondered if it was a sign they were growing. They tapered off the milk as they got older.
And yes–Mt Dew?? Talk about hyper kids!

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Bobbi Janay August 18, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Ian won’t drink whole milk. He prefers 2%, which make me smile since it is my preferred milk. He doesn’t get but three glasses at most a day, most times he prefers water with the occasional cup of cranberry juice.

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Lisa Rosen August 19, 2010 at 9:24 am

Wow–cranberry? That surprises me; my kids have never liked cranberry–too sharp. I think it’s great that you allow him to explore strong flavors. We assume so much about what kids will & won’t like.

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