When I was growing up, dinner always came accompanied with (what seemed like) a huge glass of white milk. In my elementary school cafeteria, we had to drink our entire carton of milk (skim, 2%, or whole, no flavoring there) before being allowed to go to recess. One of the commonly discussed milestones in the baby-toddler transition is the introduction of whole milk after one year of age.
Sometime around 13 months, I thought, hey, why not? And I poured some whole milk in a sippy cup for Nora. Oh, the face she made…and that was that. If it wasn’t water, she wanted nothing to do with it. At that point she was still nursing during the day fairly regularly, so I didn’t bother forcing the issue. Then, two months later, I went to my CLC training in Vermont and left her during the days for the first time since quitting my job six months earlier. I was a little nervous about how she would do with only water through the day, so we tried whole cow’s milk again and she had zero interest. I pumped during breaks from class and left breast milk for my grandmother to put in Nora’s sippy cup; she turned it down too, whether hot or cold. My grandmother tried vanilla soy milk; Nora wanted nothing to do with it. She seemed happy and sufficiently hydrated drinking water and nursing when I was around, so I wasn’t really worried.
I tried offering milk intermittently throughout the following year, mostly when I was tired of letting her nurse and looking for something different to give her. We tried warming it up or pouring it cold out of the carton. I bought almond milk, she wasn’t interested in that either. Though I did sometimes want a working alternative to nursing, I couldn’t really blame her for not wanting to drink a non-human milk. I very rarely drink cold cow’s milk, only sometimes drinking it in hot chocolate or chai, and I remember how much I hated being forced to drink cow’s milk as a child. I remember how disgusting I thought it was, especially when it had sat on the table for a while after being poured. Why would I force her to drink something I won’t drink, especially when she was still receiving perfect, species-specific milk?
Then suddenly, the day before her second birthday, Nora asked for a glass of cow’s milk. I poured her about a cup, fully expecting it to go to waste, and she gulped it down. I’m not sure what changed in her mind or taste buds, but Nora is now a somewhat regular milk drinker, drinking about 4oz most days. She still is particular about how she takes it — often she ask for cinnamon sprinkled over the top, more often, she likes it warmed with cardamom (“hot milk,” she calls it) — but she loves it on her cold cerealin the morning. She also is very specific about it being called “cow’s milk” and not just “milk;” breast milk is “milk” to her and she will remind you of that if you slip up and call cow’s milk “milk”.
Not long ago, you may remember, we had Nora’s two year check up and the doctor suggested we try to get her to drink 24oz of whole cow’s milk every day since she is in the 9th percentile. I had a momentary freak out and began to doubt my comfort with our current milk situation; I posted on Facebook and received a ton of reassuring and supportive responses, which I wrote about in one of my 30 Days of Thanks posts. Besides talking to my family and friends about the situation, I also let my obsessive inner researcher out and I started doing my own reading on the cow’s milk and just how necessary it is. Everything I read, from the AAP to the USDA Dietary Guidelines to Dr. Sears, told me that we were doing just fine and that Nora does not need to be consuming cup after cup of cow’s milk everyday. I’m confident again about her diet and I’m now veryinformed about the necessity of cow’s milk…probably much more informed than any normal, non-professional would be, and that might make me a little crazy.
From the responses I received on Facebook, I realized that I am definitely not the only one who has experienced the pressure to be pouring cow’s milk, so I wanted to put my research to good use. In case you missed it, last week on Papoose I shared a post about how vital cow’s milk is in relation to calcium and bone growth, and today, I wrote a piece about everything else I found out about cow’s milk — from potassium and vitamin D, to fat content and iron deficiency.
If you’re interested in cow’s milk and nutrition, I hope you’ll find the posts helpful and interesting, and maybe even worth sharing with someone else. I’d love to hear what you think and what role cow’s milk plays in your family’s diet.