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Why do babies need to drink cow's milk?

(7 Posts)
marthamay Thu 02-Dec-10 13:58:02


I'm really sorry if this is a daft question I just can't seem to find any official looking information about this online. I did ask this question but it was in someone else's thread so I don't want to hijack it further.

Why are babies of 12 months or older expected to drink cow's milk as the main drink?
I know that it provides a lot of nutrients, but can't they get those nutrients from other sources as well?
I'm not against milk in any way, but I'm just curious.
I don't drink milk. I consume a lot of other dairy products and I use milk in cooking and on cereal. I know that in a lot of cultures cow's milk is rarely consumed, especially by babies - so why is it seen in the UK to be an essential part of an older baby's diet?
My inclination would be to give a baby a diet rich in vegetables, along with cheese and yogurt, milk on cereal and then maybe one cup of milk - does this sound like it might lead to deficiency?

I'm really interested to hear what other people think/do about this.


BornToFolk Thu 02-Dec-10 14:06:41

I think it is partly a cultural thing.

I could never get DS to drink milk out of anything but a bottle. He had a night time bottle of milk until he was about 2 and a half. He'll now drink milk from a cup sometimes but not all that often. I can't even persuade him to have chocolate milk or hot chocolate!

He's always had a bowl of cereal/porridge for breakfast, at least one yoghurt a day, and as we are vegetarian, we eat a lot of cheese. He loves brocoli (good source of calcium) so I give him a lot of that. Custard/rice pudding/semolina are favourites too.

How old is your baby? I think all you can do is try them on cow's milk when they get to 1 year and if they'll drink it, fine and if not, just get dairy into them in other ways.

SoupDragon Thu 02-Dec-10 14:08:09

I was under impression that their main drink should be breast or formula milk, not cows milk, at under one.

SoupDragon Thu 02-Dec-10 14:08:46

Gah. Except you said over one.

RJandA Thu 02-Dec-10 15:01:56

Definitely cultural, I suppose it's just an easy way of knowing they're getting enough calcium. I suppose "a pint of milk a day" is an easier mantra for HVs than "a range of calcium-rich foods and drinks".

If you're happy you can get enough calcium into your LO in other ways then I think that would be fine. All that lovely cream in whole milk is good for them too.

I find this a useful source for checking nutritional data, it's american though so not great for checking UK brands.

I cup of broccoli contains 4% of an adult's RDA of calcium compared with 28% in 1 cup of milk. I've no idea how much a baby's RDA of calcium is, but for most babes you can see it would be easier to get x amount of milk into them than 7 times as much broccoli. smile

Tanso Thu 02-Dec-10 15:23:24

It is because children need calcium and vitamin D.

I have actually read some interesting things about cows milk consumption in a book called 'the enzyme factor' by Hiromi Shinya.

He says that although milk has a large amount of calcium, it is not as easily absorbed as in other foods and can actually cause osteoperosis rather than prevent it. This is because when we have an injection of a high level of calcium, the concentration levels in our blood suddenly rises to abnormal levels. To combat this, the kidneys will secrete calcium through urine to restore the balance. This in turn means the calcium level will actually decrease. Over time this may lead to osteoperosis.
The theory is that foods with more slow release calcium are better because a slow absorbtion means a higher level will be retained.
Foods he suggests are small fish, shrimp and seaweed. I would say brocolli too.

cows milk is difficult to digest. the protein in it is 80% casein immediately clumps together when it enters the stomach. Homogenisation (making the milk one liquid rather than separating to milk and cream) puts air into the fat turning it into an oxidised fatty substance- can produce free radicals and have a negative effect on the body.

Pasturisation: at high temperatures 212 degrees. Enzymes are destroyed. he says he has heard that if you feed shop bought milk to a calf it will die within 4 to 5 days. He says life cannot be sustained with foods that do not contain enzymes.

that said, he explains that westernised peoples bodies have adapted to milk quite well over many years and can handle it better . People from countries such as Japan have a shorter history of drinking milk and have more issues to do with the effects.His children developed allergies like dermatitis when they were drinking milk, his wife was allergic to milk and developed Lupus (dont know whhat that is) but didnt know she was allergic and drank it while growing up at school. She died, but his childrens problems were cured when milk was eliminated from their diets.

This guy is the chief of surgical endoscopy at beth israel medical centre and clinical professor of surgery at albert einstein college of medicine. He has been studying peoples colons for 50 years,

a lot of this is his own observations and conclusions, not medical fact.
he is possibly slightly a bit of a quack, but one with a lot of experience.

I still drink milk, not loads though.
My baby is 6 months and BF. When she gets to one year im sure i will be giving her milk, but i will also make sure she is getting the calcium and other nutrients she needs from other foods. If i see signs of allergies or other problems i may eliminate milk to see if it is the cause.

Seona1973 Thu 02-Dec-10 18:00:50

they dont need to drink it as long as they can get the same nutrients from other sources. From the age of 1 I think 3 portions of dairy are recommended so a drink of milk, some cheese and some yoghurt would cover that (to make the equivalent of 350mls/approx 12oz of milk = which is the recommended amount from 1 year)

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