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Before you feed your child his/her next glass of milk, we recommend you take note of these myths. Find out the truth about milk for children to ensure your kids derive the most benefit out of this popular drink.
These myths are extremely common, which is why it is even more important to understand and follow the truth.
Popular But FALSE Beliefs – Myths About Drinking Milk
Myth 1: Milk is The Richest Source of Calcium
Well, it is not – this is just a milk calcium myth! Many parents tend to think that milk is the ultimate source of calcium for children and tend to ignore other important foods because of this belief. However, there are some foods that are far better sources of calcium and must be made a part of your child’s diet. We must also remember that our kids need Vitamin D in order to absorb the calcium from food.
Watch: Find Out The Calcium-Rich Foods You Should Definitely Include in your Child’s Meals!
So, how can you ensure your little one gets adequate calcium? Doctors recommend the following calcium-rich foods for kids, other than milk:
- Sesame seeds (til)
- Kidney beans (rajma)
Myth 2: Milk is a COMPLETE Food For Children
It is definitely true that milk is very nutritious and essential for growing kids. It provides children with calcium, protein, and minerals such as zinc. However, it is important to NOT treat milk as a complete food and assume that it fulfils all the nutritional needs of children.
Milk does NOT have two very important nutrients for kids: Vitamin C and Iron. Without these nutrients, children cannot get complete food for their development, and could be more prone to developing anaemia due to iron-deficiency. Lack of Vitamin C can also make them more prone to developing low immunity, and frequent cold and cough.
Remember – if your child is missing his meals, don’t assume that a glass of milk will make up for it. Try and balance his diet especially with Vitamin C and iron-rich foods such as fresh fruits, eggs, and whole grains.
Myth 3: Milk Alone Will Make Our Kids’ Bones Stronger
It might be hard to believe this, but milk for bones could well be a myth. According to experts, there is not much evidence that milk promotes bone health. In fact, there have been some studies that have found a higher rate of osteoperosis in milk-drinking countries as compared to those that don’t consume a lot of milk!
Parents must note that drinking milk alone does not protect our kids against fractures, or makes their bones stronger. It is recommended to also feed your child foods such as spinach and sweet potatoes and these other foods for stronger bones.
Myth 4: Milk is Enough For a Child’s Breakfast
Many of us have believed this one over time. Mornings are chaotic for mothers, what with kids to be readied for school and breakfast to be prepared for everyone. Many children fuss about food when they are toddlers or pre-schoolers, which often makes us turn to a glass of milk (perhaps with that chocolate powder). However, milk is NOT a replacement for a proper breakfast.
Doctors say that a child needs carbohydrates, proteins and fruits for breakfast, which is the first meal of the day. While milk is nutritious, it doesn’t provide the glucose that our children need to get energetic in the morning. It must not be used as a standalone breakfast but be complemented with foods such as oatmeal with fruits, or the more traditional hariyali parathas.
Myth 5: Babies Also Need Milk, Even if They’re Breastfeeding
This is a very common but very harmful myth. A lot of us tend to believe that babies also need milk – cow’s milk or formula milk – even if they are being breastfed adequately. This is unnecessary and not at all recommended. Doctors strictly recommend that mothers must NOT introduce cow’s milk to a baby before 1 year of age. Doing so could even lead to type-1 diabetes and auto immune diseases.
Myth 6: Kids of All Ages MUST Drink Milk – It Can Be Harmful if They Don’t
Milk is definitely a key part of a growing child’s diet and provides several major nutrients for development. However, once your child enters his preteens (after age 12), milk stops being a mandatory item. Milk is neither the richest nor the purest source of calcium, and it might not suit the digestive system of every child.
So, is drinking too much milk bad? Well, in some cases, milk might lead to an inflammation in the gut, especially if the child is stressed, unwell, or is suffering from lactose intolerance. In such cases, it is fine if the milk servings are limited, in consultation with the paediatrician. Please don’t be worried that reduction in the amount of milk at this age will hamper your child’s development in any way.
Myth 7: Drinking Milk Before Bed-Time Helps Better Sleep
The rationale behind this common myth is that milk contains a good amino acid called tryptophan. When this is released into the brain, it produces a feel-good hormone called serotonin. This hormone eventually changes into melatonin, or the ‘sleep’ hormone. However, as per some recent studies, the level of tryptophan in milk is too less to show any major effect. It is thus best not to rely only on milk to ensure better sleep for our children.
However, it is true that a glass of bed-time milk might create long-term psychological associations with our childhood, which helps us relax and sleep better. It is recommended to feed your baby the right dinner foods for better sleep, followed by milk, if required. Doing so will actually help them sleep more peacefully.
Myth 8: Milk Helps Keep a Child’s Skin Soft & Fair
This is a huge myth – experts point out that while milk does contain a lot of water (which is good for the skin), it doesn’t do much beyond this. On the other hand, there is a possibility that drinking too much milk can lead to skin breakouts and acne! The main reason behind this is adulteration, which is a risk with milk in many Indian cities. If the milk our kids drink has been mixed with adulterants such as rice powder, hormones, etc., it can lead to skin problems.
Myth 9: Kids Should Drink Raw Milk; It is More Nutritious Than Pasteurized Milk
Please do not believe this myth. Some parents are of the opinion that raw milk tastes better, is easier to digest, and contains more nutrients than pasteurized milk. However, this is NOT true. The facts about dairy products are that raw milk can actually contain dangerous bacteria that lead to serious illnesses. Also, the process of pasteurisation does not diminish the nutritive value of milk.
It is highly recommended not to serve your kids raw milk, and also ensure that all dairy products like cheese, ice-creams, yoghurt and paneer are also made from pasteurized milk.
Myth 10: Soy Milk is as Nutritious as Cow’s Milk
If you are vegan or if your child is lactose intolerant, soy milk might be the beverage of choice for you. However, please note that soy milk does not contain similar nutritive value as cow’s milk. While the protein and fat content are similar, the calcium content is much lower. The mineral content (e.g. potassium and phosphorus) is also lower than in cow’s milk.
If you choose soy milk for your child, please ensure he/she gets calcium, minerals and Vitamin D from other food sources as well. Also, you can try lactose-free milk. Please discuss this with your paediatrician.
Myth 11: Milk Is Good For the Digestive System
A glass of milk – either warm or chilled – is often used in Indian homes to cure digestive problems. Chilled milk, especially, can provide relief in case of acidity or heartburn. However, it is important to note that milk might actually CAUSE digestive problems in some children. This mainly happens when the child develops an allergy or intolerance to milk protein. This can cause gut inflammation and bring on other related problems such as skin trouble or poor appetite.
To prevent this from happening, please watch out for these 11 signs of lactose intolerance in children. Consult your doctor if you spot any of these in your child and seek treatment.