Milk for 5 years old, is it really recommended? Learn more about the benefits of milk for big kids here.
What can you read in this article?
- Does my 5-year old still need to drink milk?
- Is drinking too much milk a bad thing?
- Milk myths and the truth about them
When he was a baby, your child relied heavily on milk. Regardless if it’s breast milk or formula, milk was his primary source of nutrition.
Then he started eating solids. So at age 1, milk took a backseat to food. However, milk still remains an important source of minerals like calcium, and vitamins, particularly B12 for him.
Many parents still consider milk an important part of their toddler’s diet, to make sure that the child gets all the nutrients his growing body needs. But for preschoolers and big kids, is milk still recommended? And if so, what kind of milk is acceptable for children 5 years old and up?
Milk for 5 years old – is it still a must?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 16 to 20 ounces or 2 to 2 and a half cups of milk is recommended for children ages 2 to 5 daily. But how about the big kids?
Well, as indicated in Healthline, big kids and grownups can do away without drinking milk every day, if they are able to get the necessary nutrients found in milk anywhere else. For instance, if they are eating well, on a vegan diet, or have an allergy to milk, they can opt to get calcium and Vitamin D from other food sources.
However, if no ethical or physical impediments, milk makes a natural choice that’s nutritious, easily accessible, and inexpensive for your family.
Contemplating whether your child (5 years old and above) should continue drinking milk? Here are some of the benefits that milk provides to our growing child:
- Research shows that milk is an important dietary source of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and other micronutrients.
- Vitamin D-fortified milk can help children avoid Vitamin D deficiency which causes diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis .
- Milk is an excellent source of calcium, which protects your child from developing hypertension, kidney stones, insulin resistance syndrome, obesity, and cancer.
- Recent studies showed that the protein and calcium content in milk led to a reduced risk of protein malnutrition, fewer dental cavities, increased mineral content in their bones and fewer bone fractures, and reduce risk of developing the bone disease rickets.
- Studies also revealed that children who drink milk grow up to be taller than their peers who do not drink milk.
- Another study suggests that growth factors in milk boost brain development as well as linear body growth.
Image from Freepik
Some things to remember about giving milk to your 5-year old
Yes, milk is a rich and easy source of nutrients for your growing child. However, some parents tend to fall into the trap of relying too much on milk for their kids’ dietary needs.
“While it’s important for a child to get enough calcium, fat, and protein, it is also possible to overdo it with milk consumption,” said Yaffi Lvova, the registered dietitian and nutritionist, of Baby Bloom Nutrition in Phoenix, Arizona.
For one, drinking too much milk may make your child lose interest in other nutritious foods during his meal.
“Milk can be filling, and too much can reduce a child’s appetite, preventing them from being interested in food during mealtime,” Lvova explained.
Another important thing to note is that overconsuming milk can interfere with your child’s ability to properly make use of certain nutrients.
“Too much calcium and casein, a milk protein, can block appropriate absorption of iron, causing iron deficiency anemia,” said Lvova.
Moreover, milk at bedtime can also contribute to tooth decay in children.
To counter the drawbacks of drinking too much milk, nutritionists recommend giving milk as a beverage during meals (not as a standalone food like before) to toddlers and big kids, and only offering water in between meals.
According to Healthline, whole milk, with its high fat content, is recommended for children 12 to 24 months. Depending on your child’s nutritional needs and your family’s lifestyle, you have the option to switch to low-fat milk after age 2.
However, some pediatricians advise keeping the child on whole milk, especially if he has a low weight or other medical issues. If there’s a family history of heart disease or hypertension, you may also opt to switch to milk with reduced fat content.
To be sure, make it a point to consult your pediatrician about what’s best for your child, before switching from whole milk to any reduced or low-fat milk.
Myths about milk
When it comes to choosing the most appropriate milk for your child, parents can get overwhelmed with the choices and are confronted with different misconceptions. Here are some of the most common myths around milk.
Myth 1# Growing up, formula milk is better than full cream milk
Reality – For children older than 1 year of age who are on a well-balanced diet, growing up milk provides no incremental benefit over full cream milk.
Formulas meant for children beyond the ages of 1 year old (Stage 3 onwards) are termed as growing up milk. While these types of milk are heavily fortified with nutrients, they’re also very expensive and become an unnecessary expense for parents, especially since normal, whole milk, along with a balanced diet can do the job.
This myth arises from the way these growing up milks are marketed. They claim to be “specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of your toddler,” creating the impression that it may be superior to other types of milk.
The trouble is, their nutritional value is often compared solely with cow’s milk, instead of cow’s milk, plus food which your toddler would in reality be eating.
Milk and dairy products are the main sources of calcium in their diets. 300ml of cow’s milk will provide all the calcium a three-year-old needs (350 mg/d). But the recommended daily servings of the popular growing-up milk do not. For that, your child would have to consume at least 400 ml of growing-up milk.
You have to remember that for a toddler, typically the major source of nutrients should be food, not milk. If he fills up on growing up formula, he would have no appetite for solid food left, which would cause deficiencies later.
Myth #2 Fresh milk is better than UHT milk
Reality – nutritionally speaking, they are more or less, the same.
After your child turns 1, you can introduce full cream milk in his diet. Full cream milk can be pasteurized cow’s milk, UHT (Ultra Heat Treated), or powdered. There are no significant differences between these 3 types of milk nutritionally, except for differences in how they are processed, and hence, their shelf-lives.
The UHT, or ultra-pasteurised milk is heated to a very high temperature for a few seconds, which kills all the pathogen as well as bacterial spores, increasing the shelf life of UHT to 6 to 9 months when it is unopened. In contrast, pasteurized milk is heated to a lower temperature for a longer time, and the shelf life is thus shorter, at about two weeks when it is unopened.
After opening, both UHT and pasteurized milk must be kept chilled in the refrigerator. Powdered milk, on the other hand, is a concentrated form of milk after the water has been evaporated off.
Before your child turns 2 your child still needs to take full-fat milk as he still requires an adequate amount of fats to support his growth. But after this stage, you can switch to low-fat milk supplemented by a balanced age-appropriate diet, if your child is eating and growing well.
That being said, full-cream milk, whole milk or low-fat milk is okay for kids 5 years old and above, depending also on his diet and nutritional needs.
Myth #3 It is better for my baby to take Hypoallergenic formula or specialised formula
Reality – Specialised formulas are not going to provide extra nutrition or benefit to your child who is growing well. They are prescribed by doctors for children with medical needs.
Milk for 5 years old.
While most healthy babies are able to take normal infant formula. Babies with specific allergies or medical conditions may require specialized formulas.
If you think that your baby may need these specialized formulas, it is best to first consult with a medical professional before opting for these alternatives.
If you survey the milk section of a supermarket, you will find many brands and the jargon is confusing. However, read the fine script and you will notice that they fall in these 5 broad categories.
1. Soy-Based Formula.
Derived from a plant source, these formulas are particularly useful for children who are allergic to bovine proteins.
2. Lactose-Free Formula.
A few babies cannot digest lactose – a sugar commonly found in milk. For them, this formula is a boon.
3. Extensively Hydrolyzed Formula (EHF) or Partially hydrolyzed formula.
Meant for children who are allergic to cow’s milk proteins. These formulas contain proteins that are broken down to easily digestible units.
Extensively Hydrolyzed Formula contains proteins that are broken down into really small units. This makes it easy for babies with severe inflammatory bowel diseases or cow milk allergies to digest the formula.
Partially Hydrolyzed Formula is generally used in babies suffering from colic. though it is not recommended in babies who have milk protein allergies.
4. Hypoallergenic Formula.
This is meant for infants with allergies or who have a family history of allergies to milk proteins. Even though Soy-based formulas are not completely hypoallergenic, they are sometimes used in infants who tolerate them well.
5. Anti-regurgitation formula.
This is meant for infants who may suffer from GERD and have a tendency to throw up. This formula is a bit thicker than usual and sits better in the stomach.
Most of these specialized formulas are used right from birth. In the case of a rare allergy developing late, they are used in toddlers.
If your 5-year-old has no allergies or doesn’t suffer from frequent digestive issues? Our guess is he’s okay with just regular fresh milk. But if you have any concerns, it’s best to consult your pediatrician on the best milk for kids 5 years old and above.
Myth #4: There are so many different kinds of milk in the market, and I should just continue to feed my toddler formula milk.
Reality – Unless contraindicated, full-cream milk is better than anything else commercially available for your toddler.
It’s true. Even the most basic ones will have the nutrients that are absolutely necessary for your child. Pricier formula or type of milk does not necessarily mean a better one.
That said, after the age of 1, you can opt for cow’s milk to supplement a balanced diet. There are a few milks that you should avoid though.
1. Filled milk
Filled milk is fortified with fats from other sources, especially vegetable fats. Many commercially available Evaporated milks and condensed milks. The ones used in your favorite food and desserts, are examples of filled milk.
Even though they are not nutritionally deficient. They are best avoided in children due to the inordinate amount of sugar in them. That said, you can safely use them in baking, but they should not form a part of the recommended daily allowances.
2. Plant-based milks meant for adults
You often see Soy milk, Almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk in the supermarkets. These are free of lactose, and are favored by lactose-intolerant adults. They are often fortified with calcium and vitamins as they are the milk alternatives for vegans.
However, the safety and nutritional efficacy of these non-dairy milk have not been established in children. So, it is best to avoid these till they can make an informed decision about their own dietary choices.
Moms and dads, make an informed choice about the milk you choose for your growing kid. If you are unsure, always ask your doctor about the best kind of milk suited for your child’s needs.
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore
SMA Baby, Which.co, Healthline, Parenting Science