Thursday, December 30, 2010

Due to the many myths that exist on the topic of early brain development, I am dedicating this week to sharing the realities of what children need. Each day throughout the week, one myth will be clarified. It is my hope that we can quickly make truth common knowledge.  

Myth #4: Infants and Toddlers should be given skim milk to avoid obesity.

Truth: Nature provides all that the brain needs through breast milk. A mother's milk includes DHA which is essential to optimal cognitive and visual function. It is important when using infant formula to ensure it is fortified with DHA.  

When a toddler is transitioned to cow's milk, whole milk is best. Toddlers need fat for nerve development. Myelin is the protective coating that covers communicating neurons. Myelin is very important for brain health. It helps the impulses between nerves travel faster. This insulating sheath is composed of 30% protein and 70% fat. 

Zero to Three states the following: 

"Because of the rapid pace of myelination in early life, children need a high level of fat in their diets--some 50 percent of their total calories--until about two years of age. Babies should receive most of this fat from breast milk or formula in the first year of life, and breastmilk remains an excellent source of liquid nutrition into the toddler years. However, whole cow's milk can be introduced after the first birthday, and provides an excellent source of both fat and protein for toddlers in the second year."

The bottom line: For the first 12 months a baby needs breast milk or infant formula with DHA. When a child is transitioned to cows milk the brain benefits most from the fat that whole milk provides.

This article provides guidelines for using, Cows Milk for Infants and Toddlers
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