There are a few things that we had been working on to prepare us for the magical milestone of turning one (you can find a recap of the last few weeks before one HERE). Bottle weaning (but will continue to nurse), napping in our cribs (aka "breaking the swing habit"), changing up our bedtime routine, and cutting naps from 2 times to once a day are just a few things that we had to work on. We are also working on incorporating more "enrichment" time into our day (do you know about "unschooling"?) and getting back to EC. One of the toughest things for me during the transition to TODDLERHOOD was to find the info that I was looking for to help support my decision on what to give the girls AFTER they turn one! More specifically: "What do I do about milk after the girls turn one? Do I keep doing formula? Nursing? What kind of milk do they need now?" These questions were constantly on my mind, and I'm sure you already know I had to do a little digging of my own!
By the time b-day month hit, I had it narrowed down to 3 options: almond milk, coconut milk, or goats milk. Problem was I had never tried any of the 3, and didn't know much about them. (I had tried and like soy milk, but... for most brands its like, Well HELLO GMO's! No thanks!) BUT WAIT!!!! Why isn't cow's milk on that list? Contrary to the theory that "all milk is the same," here are a few things that I learned along my way.
To better understand why my list has these three milks on it, you should first know more about what's NOT on it:
One thing that I did when I was pregnant was make sure that I drank enough milk everyday. I drank TONS of it (Ovaltine style! The ONLY way to do it!) I thought that this was the BEST thing I could do for the girls as far as helping them grow to be "big and strong!" Kinda wish I knew then what I know now... but better late then never right?
First of all, we need to understand WHY milk is so highly recommended as part of a "balanced diet" if we want to answer ANY questions at all. The three main nutritional benefits of milk are CALCIUM, VITAMIN D, and PROTEIN. Milk is a great way to ensure that we consume enough of them daily, especially when we consider the trademark characteristic of toddlerhood: PICKY EATING! BUT, is it the only way to give our bodies the nutrients it needs? Is it the best thing for my diet?
"DO WE EVEN NEED TO DRINK MILK?
Now, you know I can't have a post about milk and not automatically think of kellymom.com! They did an AMAZING job of breaking down TODDLER NUTRITION in general, AND telling you all the FACTS about what toddlers DO and DON'T need in their diets! The only thing I did not find useful (since it did not apply to MY personal preferences, not because it was bad or wrong info... fyi), is that they do not suggest alternatives to cow's milk. HOWEVER, they DO offer suggestions on how to adjust your diet if you do NOT consume it daily:
"Cow’s milk is really just a convenient source of calcium, protein, fats, vitamin D, etc.- it’s NOT REQUIRED"
- Good non-dairy sources of protein include meats, fish, peas & beans (chick peas, lentils, baked beans, etc.), tofu and other soy products, boiled eggs, peanut and other nut butters (if your child is not allergic).
- Good non-dairy sources of fats include soy and safflower oils, flax seed and flax seed oil, walnuts, fish and fish oils, avocado. Adding fats to cooking and baking can work well, for example, stir fry in safflower oil or make mini-muffins with soy or rice milk, oil or butter, and eggs.
- Calcium may be derived from many nondairy sources.
- Vitamin D can be supplied by sunlight exposure and food sources.
- If your child is not nursing regularly and is not allergic to cow’s milk products, but simply doesn’t like cow’s milk, you can incorporate milk into your child’s diet in other ways. Many children like cheese, whole-fat yogurt or ice cream. You can also put milk into various food products: pancakes, waffles, muffins, French toast, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, and baked goods.
- Some moms wish to offer cow’s milk to their toddler, but baby doesn’t like it. Over the age of 12 months, milk becomes a more minor part of a child’s diet. It is sometimes helpful to mix increasing amounts of cow’s milk with your expressed milk to help baby get used to the taste. Many dietitians see nothing wrong with adding some flavor (such as strawberry or chocolate) to cow’s milk.
**Also, did you know that drinking TOO MUCH milk can lead to ANEMIA, and can also lead to OBESITY. And just because you are drinking lowfat milk, doesn't mean you are necessarily "cutting back," because it can leave you feeling less full, and more likely to reach for more food. (More about that in this BOSTON GLOBE Article)
The Global Healing Center goes into a few details about the "ingredients" of milk. (Keep scrolling if your tummy is on the "easily jumpy" side):
- A Veritable Hormone Cocktail: including pituitary, steroid, hypothalamic, and thyroid hormones (remember most cows are extremely stressed)
- rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone): a genetically engineered hormone directly linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer. This is injected into cows to increase milk production
- Pus: National averages show at least 322 million cell-counts of pus per glass!  This is well-above the human limit for pus-intake, and has been directly linked to paratuberculosis bacteria, as well as Crohn’s disease. The pus comes from infected udders on the cows known as mastitis.
- Blood Cells: The USDA allows up to 1.5 million white blood cells per milliliter of commonly-sold milk. Yes, you are drinking cows blood in the milk and the USDA allows this!
- Antibiotics: Currently, cows are in such a state of disease and mistreatment that they are continually being injected with antibiotic medicines, and rubbed down with chemical-laden ointments to deal with their chronic infections. (Currently, regulating committees only test for 4 of the 85 drugs in dairy cows. This means that the other 81 drugs in cow’s milk are coming directly into your glasses and bodies. Estimates show that 38% of milk in the U.S. is “contaminated with sulfa drugs or other antibiotics,” according to a study by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest and published in the Wall Street Journal on December 29, 1989. A study from the FDA data showed that over half of all milk was laden with traces of pharmaceuticals yet nothing has been done to control this..... just FYI)
So, you are probably wondering what we decided to do....(and fyi we do STILL nurse at 15 mo! Morning snuggles, daytime "graze bys," and evening story time are our most accounted for nursing occasions. But by no means do we stick to 3 times a day... we nurse mostly when they ask for it, or haven't eaten much that day and I KNOW they are hungry.) Taking into consideration the unpredictability of toddler appetites, I wanted to make sure that whatever I decided, it was going to have to be something that BALANCED MY DIET (if/when consumed), HIGH IN NUTRITIONAL VALUE, EASY TO FIND, and EASY ON MY WALLET.
The choice that worked best for us is ALMOND MILK! It is made by mixing finely ground almonds and water together, and has a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function. AND dont worry about lactose, gluten, OR casein intolerance. The only allergy that needs to steer clear of this option are NUT allergies! (To learn more about what may be best for YOU & YOUR FAMILY, HERE is an informative read about toddlers and "alterna-milks" by Dr. Natasha Burgert. )
Almond milk is LOW IN CALORIES AND FAT, so I don't have to worry if I add a glass (or 2) to my days here and there. It also contains HIGH LEVELS OF ANTIOXIDANTS (which can help slow signs of aging AND prevent many types of cancer.) I can find it at the MAJORITY OF GROCERY STORES, AND Sam's Club has it at a GREAT PRICE! (We don't go through milk very much so for the price and amount that we use, this is the best bang for your buck!) #twinning!!!
The only upperhand that cow's milk really seems to have on almond milk is that it has MORE PROTEIN in it. This does kind of make it hard since we girls are already VEGETARIAN. BUT, that's why we have an egg (or 2) just about EVERY morning for breakfast, AND our smoothies have tofu somedays...... I know you already know! ^^( THIS ARTICLE by Fitday has more (GREAT) info about Almond milk (and it vs. cows milk!) )
When selecting your almond milk (IF that is the route you decide to go!) make SURE you keep an eye out for SUGAR content AND CARRAGEENEN. Read more about it HERE! (<-- that article is just ONE MORE reason I LOVE SILK milks! <3 even the soymilk is GMO free!) We would go goats IF the girls drank more milk around here besides mine!)
As I wrap up here, I want to take a second to touch on infants. I know sometimes we can't always make it a year breastfeeding, which is TOTALLY OK!, but It is important to remember that you SHOULD NOT GIVE your INFANT (under 12 months) cows milk! The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against it because:
- Your baby's system can't handle the high levels of Protein, Sodium, or Potassium found in cow's milk
(The U.S. National Library of Medicine tells you more about this if you need it!)
We'll see you again REAL soon for you next post (when we talk about "FEEDING THE TODDLERS") <3