Month 22 Worry: When to Switch from Whole to Lower-Fat Milk?
What’s the Issue
You added yogurt and cheese into your child’s diet when she was eight or nine months of age. Then you added whole milk in at her first birthday. The next natural transition would be to skim or low-fat milk. Consistently, parents ask me when this is optimally done. (In other words, “When can I simplify my grocery shopping and give my toddler the same kind of milk I drink?”)
You need to know your milk fat facts: Whole milk is 4 percent milk fat. Two percent and 1 percent milk are self-explanatory, and skimmed milk has minimal fat content. Up to this point, your toddler has been getting whole milk—but right now, he is still just a bit too young for you to pour his milk from the same carton of skim you drink from. And here’s why.
Did you know that the calcium requirements of a 22-month-old are about 500 mg per day? According to the USDA, this is the equivalent of two cups of whole milk or four slices of cheese over the course of a day. Interestingly, nonfat milk has significantly higher calcium content than its whole milk counterpart (316 versus 290 gm per cup). So switching your child to skim milk when he turns 2 will take away the extra fat he doesn’t need and boost the calcium that he does.
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