DS is 22 months and is pretty much done nursing due to my pregnancy. He is still nursing once per day but I am pretty sure he is getting next to no milk anymore. He eats a great diet and is not picky ( he has things he doesn't like but not much), lots of meat, fish, veg, fruit (maybe too much?), water, grains and very little added sugar. He has been eating an insane amount of food recently, I can not feed him enough.
My question is what does he need in terms of milk and dairy? We have mostly stayed away from dairy with him as suggested by our natropath but I don''t know if its nessisary? He will drink a bit of rice or coconut milk sometimes but 1/4 cup a day at most.
Anyways, what did you do with your kids? I would really appreciate any advice :)
Milk is not necessary if children wean to a "natural" age of weaning. According to Katherine Dettwyler that would be something like 2.5-7 years of age. From what I understand, most children need a full fat milk replacement if they are weaned before that (so, not rice "milk" or something similar). It is possible to get enough fats through food alone, but milk is a fairly easy source of both fat and protein.
For my first, I thought you were supposed to introduce milk around a year. She showed some signs of milk allergy, so she ended up starting milk around 18 months. We never pushed it, it was just an option. When I got pregnant (she was 23 months) we started encouraging more cow milk intake to replace the human milk she was missing. We used organic whole milk. She continued nursing for years after that, but was drinking a fairly significant amount of cows milk by the time she was 3.5 (up to two cups a day). With DS we didn't specifically introduce it at any point--- I knew human milk was enough. He was probably closer to two before getting any and we actually just went straight to skim (organic, cows) milk with him. With the amount of human milk he was still getting, I knew he didn't need the fat from the whole cows milk.
Now, my kids are a lot older (10 & 13). They drink three cups of milk most days (occasionally it just doesn't work out) plus smoothies (including 1/4/1-/2 cup milk), cheese, yogurt, etc...
For us, we consider milk necessary *for our family.* I know you can have a healthy diet without but especially given that my DD was vegetarian for most of her life (she now eats occasional chicken) so dairy was a huge source of her protein (and fat) it was important to us. I have read that many tweens are lacking on the vitamins that milk supplies, so I am comfortable with our decisions thus far.
For dairy, I started with yogurt and kefir. Both of my kids drink at least a cup of kefir a day. I was really hesitant to give my first cow's milk. I don't know why, but I was. He'd have the occasional taste, but I never gave it to him as a beverage. He also ate cheese frequently. Now at almost 4, I still limit his milk intake to 1 cup a day. My daughter had more cow's milk at a younger age because my son was getting it. I still go to water first for them, then "juice-water", and then milk. They are both decent water drinkers and I feel that is more important than being a decent milk drinker. Another option for healthy is smoothies. Both my kids love smoothies. I mostly do fruit, veggies, juice, and yogurt and/or kefir. I add in flax and chia seeds and ACV for health purposes. I know some people add in nuts or nut butters for protein, but we rarely do that.
With my children's low dairy consumption and high fruit and whole grain consumption - we've never had constipation issues. I know a lot of people don't overdo the fruit, but I'm sure we eat way more than other families. I'm okay with that.
Mama to three
I think homemade kefir is a great place to start. We started with raw goats milk, because at the time I knew nothing about kefir. With DS I will start with raw milk kefir. It is much more easily digested and absorbed by the body than plain milk. I highly recommend at least raw milk instead of store bought pasturized, homogenized milk. And yes, full fat always.
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