There are so many opinions when it comes to introducing milk after weaning. At Harvest to Highchair, we err more to the side of the traditional whole milk and actually sell a wonderful product from our partners at Lowcountry Creamery. Until forging this partnership, I didn't know that the whole milk on the store shelves is actually commercially pasteurized and 'skimmed' to 3.25% milk fat; however, what actually comes out of the cow is anywhere from 4.8 to 5.2% depending on the diet of the cow. Lowcountry Creamery pasteurizes the milk but doesn't 'skim' the milk so it maintains a higher fat content. Mother's milk ranges between 8-11% milk fat depending on diet, so you can understand why many weaning babies shun the introduction of milk.
This summer I came across a post from CNN about a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that children consuming non-milk alternatives tend to be a bit shorter than those consuming cow's milk. The study found that found that each daily cup of non-cow's milk consumed was associated with 0.4 centimeters (0.15 inches) lower height than average for a child's age. To put this in perspective, 3-year-old child consuming three cups of non-cow's milk relative to cow's milk was on average 1.5 centimeters shorter...that's almost 1/2 inch which is pretty significant at that age. What is unknown at this point is if the children will catch up over time or not.
I thought it was interesting, but I didn't think that many families really used non-milk alternatives other than those with lactose or dairy issues. Until last week...my dad sent me an article from The Wall Street Journal about organic dairies having an abundance of milk that isn't selling because so many families have started using non-dairy alternatives. I have to admit, I was surprised. Every family needs to make the best choice for themselves; however, I felt we would be remiss in our mission if we didn't share what we're learning with our families.