When to Stop Whole Milk for Toddlers

when-to-stop-whole-milk-for-toddlersI’m a rule follower by nature. When Rocco turned one, I immediately switched him to whole milk, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and others’ suggestion. But when he turned two in October, I broke the rules. For once, their advice just didn’t make sense to me.

Is there a right time when to stop whole milk for toddlers? Is whole fat dairy really the cause of obesity and heart disease in America? I have my doubts.

The AAP suggests switching from whole fat milk to low-fat milk at age 2. Initially, I had planned to move Rocco to a lower-fat milk to follow these recommendations, but then I started reading a plethora of articles about the correlation between full-fat dairy and lower body fat.

What? So you’re telling me that higher fat dairy actually makes you skinny? That’s what the research is showing.

I heard this story on NPR, the paradox between whole milk and lean bodies. Research continues to roll in on the positive effects of full-fat dairy. This story built on a previous story about whole milk and slimmer kids. If this research bears weight, switching to low fat milk is may not be the best advice.

It may seem counterintuitive that full-fat foods would make us thinner. But then I think back to a time before fast food and processed food. No, I wasn’t born yet, but I do know that people ate whole, full fat foods, and the rate of obesity was substantially lower. Sure, they also moved more because there were a lot less technological distractions, but I am certain whole foods played a part in their satiety and their ultimate thinness. Plus, there is mounting evidence that saturated fat (like in whole milk) is not the culprit causing heart disease.

At Rocco’s two-year check-up, I asked his pediatrician what she thought about me keeping him on full-fat milk. She said it was OK, and that we should consider weaning him off of full-fat dairy by the time he’s in kindergarten (I didn’t press as to why we should wean then).

So where does that leave us? I’m not sure if the AAP’s recommendations are incorrect. I’m left wondering, is low-fat dairy the best choice for children who are at a greater risk for obesity? Or is milk not the culprit at all, and by giving kids lower fat milk are they consuming more (empty) calories from other sources than if you had fed them full-fat dairy?

So, here’s my take. Rocco is not overweight and he generally falls somewhere in the middle for his age on all the growth charts. I’m behind the idea that whole fat foods make us feel fuller, which leads to greater satisfaction and satiety. Plus, the mounting research points to the pros of full fat dairy. At this point, I plan to keep him on whole milk, at least for the time being. If new evidence emerges that changes my mind, then I’ll rethink it.

So what do you think? Where do you stand on the whole fat milk debate?

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