Babies grow faster than counting fingers and toes. In a nanosecond, you are planning the first birthday party with frosted cake and bubbly milk. Both are appropriate choices for the occasion, but the whole milk benefits your future brain surgeon. Growth slows, though, when your precious turns two. The best milk for rambunctious 2 year olds is 2 percent or 1 percent fortified milk.
Not only is cow’s milk relatively inexpensive, it provides calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones, tooth development and muscle contraction. Calcium may also regulate blood pressure and fat, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of the calcium. Milk is also a source for high-quality protein. Protein is needed for the growth and rebuilding of muscles, as well as the repair of all body cells. It’s also important for healing all those boo boos. However, cow’s milk is not a good source of iron, so controlling your toddler’s milk consumption encourages your child to eat other foods rich in iron. He might not take a liking to Popeye’s spinach, but he probably will eat more toasty oat cereal.
Besides all your hugs and kisses, your toddler needs 700 milligrams of calcium a day and 600 units of vitamin D per day. To ensure he is getting enough calcium, he needs two to three servings of milk a day. One cup of milk is one serving and 300 milligrams of calcium. The milk should be fortified with vitamin D. One cup of milk has 100 units of vitamin D. It seems as if your precious would have to drink six cups of milk a day to receive all the necessary vitamin D his body requires, but sunshine also provides vitamin D, as well as eggs, fortified cereal and fish. You might want to pass on the mackerel or can of sardines, though.
Fat conjures images of roly poly tots, but fat is a caloric-dense nutrient and is present in whole milk, 2 percent and 1 percent milk. Fat is important for infants and toddlers because it provides energy and additional calories. Additional calories are necessary for growth and rapid brain development for your future surgeon. Some parents restrict the amount of fat intake because they don’t want their toddler turning into a butterball. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends not restricting fat and cholesterol in children under 2, so whole milk is fine. When your child reaches 2 years of age, fat can be limited, so 2 percent or 1 percent milk is a good choice. Skim milk is an option, if growth is steady and your toddler isn’t getting too scrawny.
Unfortunately, some children may be allergic to the proteins found in cow’s milk. Casein makes up 80 percent of the total proteins. Calcium-enriched rice and soy milk are possible alternatives. However, soy can inhibit protein and mineral absorption, and rice provides little protein.
Goat’s milk is an additional alternative to cow’s milk, if your toddler is having difficulty digesting cow’s milk. The protein molecules are sized differently than the molecules in cow’s milk, making it easier to digest. Like cow’s milk, it does contain lactose, a sugar that is difficult for some to digest. If you don’t want to purchase a goat, consider the health food store.