Milk basics: Whole versus skim?
It may seem silly to have different types of milk in your already crowded fridge but that's just what you need if you have a toddler in the house. Once your toddler starts drinking cow's milk, which should not be before age one, you should serve him whole milk, not low-fat or skim.
Why whole milk?
If you're a skim milk drinker, whole milk may seem like heavy cream to you, but your toddler needs that fat for growth and development, including his brain development. And with about 8 grams of fat per cup, whole milk can help provide some of that fat, along with protein and calcium.
When to switch to low-fat milk
Children age 1-2 years need higher amounts of fat to meet their needs for growth and development so whole milk is appropriate. But if a child this age is at risk for obesity or overweight—either by family history or as determined by their pediatrician–reduced fat (2%) milk should be served instead of whole milk. For children over age 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends switching to nonfat (skim) or lowfat (1%) milk to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your child’s diet.
How much milk?
You might think that more milk is better. But even if your child loves the taste of milk, you need to watch how much he drinks. Toddlers and preschoolers need just 2 cups of milk a day to meet their calcium needs. Drinking more than that can make your child too full to eat other nutritious foods.
Nutrition basics: learn the essentials on vitamins, minerals, and more with our Nutrient Glossary.