When my daughter turned 1, it was time to switch her over from breast milk to whole milk. I knew that I was definitely going to give her organic cow’s milk because I did not want her to be exposed to the potential hormones in non-organic milk. At first I thought all organic milks were equal, but it didn’t take me long to find out there were many differences among brands. I’m not here to promote a certain brand, I’m just going to tell you my experience.
After about a week of her drinking whole milk full-time, I noticed that her digestion was just not right. According to Chinese food theory milk is cold, damp and damages the Spleen (the main organ for digestion in TCM). My daughter started to display the key symptoms – frequent, loose bowel movements, gas and a distended abdomen. Since I knew that milk was going to remain a major part of her diet over the next year or so, I wanted to find a way to aid her digestion while still giving her the nutrition that she needs to grow and develop.
I began researching and found that all organic milk is not the same. There is raw (which I was personally not comfortable giving to my child), name-brand, store-brand and then local. After trying several name and store-brands with no success, I chose Straus Family Creamery who bottles their own cream-topped whole milk in reusable glass bottles. Their milk is pasteurized but not homogenized. Immediately after switching her over to this local (San Francisco area), organic, sustainable milk her digestion improved ten-fold. She went back to having one to two regular bowel movements a day with much less gas and bloating.
Even though I thought I was giving her the best milk because the name and store brands were organic, they were still highly processed and not easy for her immature digestive system to digest. Just comparing the milks side-by-side showed their differences – the name and store brands were waterier and did not contain any of the natural cream that whole milk should. Although I now have to go to specialty stores to get her milk, I think it’s well worth it. Her digestive system will thank me for years to come.
If, after testing out several different brands of milk, your child still has digestive issues you may want to get them tested for lactose intolerance. If they are not intolerant, you may want to find a local creamery and try out their products. Another trick is to serve the milk warm (which I always do) to help aid in the digestive process. You can also add warming spices to the milk such as cinnamon, cardamom &/or nutmeg to offset milk’s cold, damp properties.
A toddler needs about 18-24 oz of milk each day to meet their dietary requirements. Luckily, my daughter gulps it down with no fuss, but if your child is fussy about drinking it, here are some tips to sneak it into their diet:
- Make a smoothie with milk, ice, banana & berries – not only will they drink their milk, but they will get a full serving of fruits as well!
- Make a milk-based soup like cream of broccoli, asparagus or mushroom – another good way to sneak in their veggies!
- Make mashed sweet potatoes, cauliflower (looks just like regular potatoes) or potatoes mixed with spinach or kale to up the nutrient value.
- Make “creamsicles” by blending their milk with fruit then freezing in Popsicle molds – a great summer-time treat!
If you would like more nutrition tips for your child, we offer pediatric consultations at our downtown Walnut Creek, CA office.