BE­YOND 12 Months

Natural Solutions - - Food Matters | - BY KATE MOR­RI­SON, ND

TThe mile­stone of the first birth­day marks the end of in­fancy and the dawn of a new era: the dy­namic (read: busy!) tod­dler years. In ad­di­tion to sleep, play, and love, nu­tri­tion will be para­mount for your

tod­dler’s con­tin­ued healthy growth and de­vel­op­ment. he Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics sug­gests that whole cow milk may be in­tro­duced at 1 year of age as a healthy op­tion for many chil­dren. Just en­sure not to ex­ceed 32 ounces daily—it’s im­por­tant that chil­dren have an ap­petite to ex­per­i­ment with grains, veg­eta­bles, fruits, and meats, all in a va­ri­ety of tex­tures and colors, rather than get all of their calo­ries from milk.

Cow milk may not be the right choice for all tod­dlers, how­ever; clin­i­cal and parental ob­ser­va­tion sug­gests that more than half of all chil­dren ex­pe­ri­ence signs and symp­toms re­lated to cow-milk con­sump­tion, such as bloat­ing, gas, con­sti­pa­tion, di­ar­rhea, con­ges­tion, and eczema.

While lac­tose is of­ten thought to be the cul­prit, we’re ge­net­i­cally pro­grammed to di­gest and as­sim­i­late the lac­tose in breast milk, so that’s rarely the case in chil­dren. In most pop­u­la­tions, lac­tase (the en­zyme that breaks down lac­tose) doesn’t be­gin to de­crease un­til 3 to 5 years of age. It’s more likely that these chil­dren suf­fer from the far more com­mon phe­nom­e­non of cow milk sen­si­tiv­ity (CMS), in which the pro­tein in cow milk is the likely of­fender.

Chil­dren younger than age 2 re­quire nu­tri­ent-dense, calo­rie-rich foods. For that rea­son, rice, al­mond, co­conut, and soy milk (which are all de­li­cious, healthy op­tions for older kids and adults) may not pro­vide the nu­tri­tion tod­dlers need. This is es­pe­cially true for pick­ier eaters. For ex­am­ple, tod­dlers re­quire 16 grams of pro­tein per day, and nut milk con­tains just 1 gram of pro­tein (or less) per cup. Al­mond milk also lacks vi­ta­min K, B vi­ta­mins, folic acid, phos­pho­rous, zinc, man­ganese, cop­per, and se­le­nium. For fam­i­lies who avoid dairy en­tirely, I en­cour­age us­ing whole nuts and seeds to meet some of their tod­dler’s pro­tein and mi­cronu­tri­ent re­quire­ments.

I rec­om­mend goat milk for many chil­dren be­cause it is nu­tri­tion­ally rich and more sim­i­lar in com­po­si­tion to hu­man milk com­pared with cow milk, mak­ing it nat­u­rally easy to di­gest. Like breast milk, goat milk con­tains trace al­pha S1 ca­sein, the more dif­fi­cult-todi­gest milk mi­cro-pro­tein. This re­sults in a smaller and softer curd be­ing formed in the tummy. The fat glob­ules in goat milk are also smaller than those in cow milk. For all of these rea­sons, goat milk tends to be well-tol­er­ated by chil­dren with CMS. Goat milk is also a nu­tri­tional pow­er­house: It con­tains more than 8 grams of pro­tein per cup, as well as cer­tain min­er­als—in­clud­ing iron, cal­cium, and zinc—which are more bioavail­able (mean­ing eas­ier for the body to ab­sorb) than they are in cow milk.

Like cow milk, goat milk con­tains whey and ca­sein pro­tein frac­tions in a ra­tio of 4-to-1. Be­cause the nat­u­ral ra­tio of whey to ca­sein in breast milk is 3-to-2, a tod­dler for­mula with an adapted whey-to-ca­sein ra­tio may be a gen­tler tran­si­tion food from breast milk or in­fant for­mula. Tod­dler for­mula is also of­ten en­riched with a range of im­por­tant nu­tri­ents, in­clud­ing DHA, an es­sen­tial omega-3 fatty acid for your lit­tle one’s devel­op­ing vi­sion and ner­vous sys­tem. More good news to ease any picky eat­ing wor­ries, which­ever op­tion par­ents choose!

There is no one ideal tran­si­tion food from breast milk or in­fant for­mula. Cow milk is the most com­mon choice, but it may not be right for your tod­dler if you sus­pect cow milk sen­si­tiv­ity. Goat milk is gen­tler on the gut and more sim­i­lar to breast milk, mak­ing it a good so­lu­tion for young chil­dren, es­pe­cially if CMS is a con­cern. Be sure to talk to your health­care provider about any feed­ing changes and foods that will best meet your tod­dler’s daily nu­tri­tion needs.

Kate Mor­ri­son, ND, is a natur­o­pathic physi­cian and co-founder of Kabrita, a line of non-GMO goat milk prod­ucts for tod­dlers. Learn more at kabrita.com.

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