Milk and Your Toddler

Dr. Ram, Meriter Middleton

Dr. Ram, Meriter Pediatrics

Many parents ask me questions about transitioning their child from mom’s milk/formula to cow’s milk. Here are some tips that you should remember as you and your child make the switch:

Milk should be stored in a refrigerator that is cooler than 40 deg F. Once milk temperature reaches 45 deg or higher, bacterial growth can occur. Milk temperature can go up fairly rapidly, especially in warm weather. Generally speaking, milk should be used within 1 hour of taking it out of the refrigerator and should never be re-refrigerated.

Milk should be served at meal or snack times, but remember that toddlers should not walk around with a cup or constantly sip throughout the day. Those who constantly snack or sip their drinks give acid-producing bacteria a longer time to create damage/cavities.

In order for milk to be classified as “USDA organic,” farms must meet the following criteria: cows are exclusively given feed grown without the use of pesticides or commercial fertilizers; cows are given periodic access to pasture and direct sunlight; cows are not treated with supplemental hormones and cows have not been given certain medications to treat illness. If you choose to give your toddler organic milk, make sure that it is treated with the conventional pasteurization process. Raw, unpasteurized milk may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Brucella. These can cause illness and possibly death. Raw milk-related illnesses can be especially severe in infants and young children.

A toddler generally needs about 3 cups (24 oz) of total dairy, including milk and yogurt, daily. In general, toddler’s tend to be picky and it can sometimes be hard to get them to accept a well-balanced variety of foods. Drinking too much milk may fill them up and make it more difficult to get them to eat other foods. Drinking excessive amounts of milk (more than 40 0z daily) can also lead to Iron deficiency anemia in some children, because milk can interfere with iron absorption in the intestines and can cause irritation in the GI tract leading to microscopic blood loss.

Dr. Sumita Ram
Meriter Middleton Pediatrics

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