Should I be giving my toddler whole or skim milk? When should I make the switch?
From birth to age one, your baby should be drinking formula or breast milk. After that, your options vary depending on your child's weight.
From age 1-2:
Ideally, whole milk should be used at this age.
If there is a concern that your toddler is gaining weight too quickly (crossing the one-percentile mark every six months), substitute whole milk with skim or one per cent milk in order to reduce the fat intake, as recommended by the American Pediatrics Nutrition Committee.
If there is a strong family history of obesity, consider switching to two per cent milk at the age of 18 months to lower the total fat intake.
After 2 years:
Whole milk should not be used, even if the child has a healthy body weight. Switch to two per cent or one per cent at this point (if weight gain becomes a concern, skim is best).
Also, it's important to note that whole milk was once recommended because it was believed to provide fat for brain development. New research indicates the best kind of fat for brain development is the essential fatty acid, omega 3 (DHA). Mothers who breast feed are encouraged to eat fish that contains omega 3s or take a daily supplement of DHA.
Ideally, the toddler should consume 2 servings of fish weekly. Atlantic wild salmon is one of the best sources for DHA. Some foods such as bread and yoghurt have DHA added.
If the toddler is a picky eater, consider a DHA supplement (for more information about the amount depending on the toddler's age see www.DHAomega3.org)
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