Friday, March 4, 2011

Into the Mouths of Babes - The Milk Dilemma

It’s a hot subject in the world of babies and nutrition, and I’m no expert, but the fact remains that the essential and initial livelihood of our children depends on US and the DECISIONS we make for them from day one. There is no doubt in my mind or in the research of numerous scholars on the subject, that breast is best. There is nothing more complete that meets an innumerable amount of functions in a baby’s development than the milk of a mother.

Breastfeeding can be a struggle, and often comes with a huge amount of hurdles to overcome. But research has shown that only about 2% of moms are actually physically unable to breastfeed their children due to low milk supply, low milk nutrition or other physical obstacles. So why don’t the numbers reflect this fact? Almost 50% of mothers in our country by 6 months postpartum have stopped breastfeeding, and just over 15% breastfeed longer than a year. These numbers are even lower worldwide. I believe a lack of awareness, support, information, and normalcy of breastfeeding in our culture all contribute to these low numbers.

For more information on my own struggle,check out my, "Breastfeeding May Be Best...", article. For additional help and support in your community, contact your public health nurses, your local La Leche League, a lactation consultant or read up on some great online sources such as Kelly Mom and Dr.Jack Newman - leading Canadian breastfeeding expert, for great videos and answers to all questions breastfeeding related.

Whatever your decision may be, eventually there comes an end to your breastfeeding relationship, whether it’s the 6 month minimum (exclusively) breastfeeding that WHO recommends, or the 2 years + they encourage. If you must switch to formula before your child reaches 12 months, consider your best options, and refer to this guide for great tips in choosing the right one.

So what’s next?

It seems that milk is marketed as the anchor of nutrition when it comes to healthy, strong children, but is it? The cow’s that provide our milk are fed a diet of antibiotics to fight chronic infection caused by improper nutrition and poor living conditions. They’re fed hormones to increase their milk supply, and are horribly mistreated, in many cases. Cow’s milk is poorly digested by humans, and a lot of its nutrition is destroyed in the pasteurization process. Read about out the benefits of raw milk here, and check out this video for more great information.. Goat’s milk can be an alternative to the traditional cow’s milk, and infants and young children may benefit from it’s easier digestion and higher nutritional content to meet the 16oz a day of milk that is recommended in toddlers over 12 months.

Almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk and other milk imposters, (check out this link for more information on soy milk and the controversial affects it has), although they make good substitutes for hot cereal, coffee condiments or baking, their nutritional content doesn't replace those of real (preferably, raw) milk.

The question of whether milk continues to be necessary for our older child/adult diet is something I cannot answer. What stands out to me is that - in light of that fact that we are the only mammal to consume milk (not of it’s mother) after infancy and childhood, and being that the nutrients that compose milk can be found in many other fruits, vegetables, grains and other milk products (like yogurt), it doesn't seem that milk is always the answer.


  1. It would be interesting to do a one month trial of raw milk (or other milk with similar nutrition) with a bunch of people who currently drink regular cow milk/cream.

    I would be interested in that, especially if we got our milk from the same source and gave feedback about differences in our digestion, energy etc.