cows milk for toddlersGot milk? Well, that depends on who you ask.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing cow's milk after the age of one and the National Dairy Council supports that recommendation by stressing three servings of it a day (be it cow's milk, yogurt or cheese), many parents are choosing to say "moo-hiss!" to cow-derived dairy products. 

Here's why.

Believe it or not, Americans are in the minority when it comes to milk consumption. In many corners of the world it's either not available or considered weird to drink from the teat of a cow.

How on earth do those milk-deprived people get their bone building calcium and brain building fats and proteins? They manage, either with goat's milk or another alternative.

Here in our own country, though, milk "postponers" and opponents argue that calcium can be easily obtained from leafy greens and vegetables. After all, you are what you eat - and cows eat a lot of grass! Why not go straight to the source, like Bessie?

Moreover, dietary fats can come from meat, eggs, nuts...as well as the oils from seeds, vegetables and fish. That all-important vitamin D can be sourced from egg yolks or the good ol' fashioned sun. Just 17 minutes a day will do the trick. 

Protein, in the meantime, can come from meats, nuts, beans, lentils, and, again, those mighty greens. Did you know that you can get more than twice as much protein from a serving of broccoli or kale than a slab of steak?

Neither did I, until I read Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Disease Proof Your Child. He further argues that early cow's milk introduction can lead to problems like gastroesophageal reflux, iron deficiency, calcium and sodium excess, ear infections and an increased chance of developing childhood-onset diabetes and some later-in-life cancers.

His recommendation is nursing until your child reaches the age of two, but that is not the choice of every mom. In that case, you could try almond, goat's or soymilk - or even calcium fortified orange juice, though take care to watch the sugar.

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