When you first learned you were going to become a mother, you probably started reading and researching almost immediately. It’s only natural — you’d never been pregnant before and you wanted to understand what was going to happen with your body, with your baby, and beyond. And then, after your precious bundle of joy was earthside, your bookshelf grew even more and you still spent late night feeding sessions scrolling the internet finding the answers to every question that came up. You probably also got lots and lots of advice from others, some good and some not so good.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of old wives tales and myths floating around out there and it can be hard to know what’s the truth and what isn’t. Lucky for us, our friends at Milk Means More want to help dispel some of the more common myths surrounding dairy. Let’s take a look at some of the facts in order to ensure we are up to date with the most current nutrition information and that we are raising the most healthy eaters that we can…or, at least until our joyous bundles decide chicken nuggets are life and we lose all control.
Common Myths and Facts about Dairy
Myth #1: Babies cannot have dairy until they reach 12 months of age.
Fact: After you have determined your baby is developmentally ready and they have mastered first foods like fortified cereals and purees, you can try to introduce whole milk yogurt and cottage cheese (the recommended serving size for an 8-12 month old child is about 1/4 to 1/2 cup). Around 9 months old, he or she may be ready to start trying finger foods such as a half-ounce serving of bite-sized cheese. After your baby’s first birthday, you can start to serve plain, whole milk. Read more about when to introduce baby to dairy here. Just know — once you get them started on cheese, it probably means you have to share your favorite snack for the next 18 years.
Myth #2: If I’m nursing, I should give up all dairy to help prevent my baby from becoming lactose intolerant.
Fact: According to Dr. Robert Murray, no, consuming dairy will not make your baby lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is a genetic issue that isn’t affected by what you or baby consume. The protein, vitamins, and minerals in milk are actually very beneficial to both of you during breastfeeding. Breast milk, like cow’s milk contains lactose, so the lactase enzyme will help your baby digest sugars. Our bodies need the fuel that dairy products can provide in order to continue producing our own milk — so, carry on with that morning smoothie and mid-day cheese stick!
Myth #3: Cow’s milk contains antibiotics and the cows are treated with synthetic hormones.
Fact: All milk, whether it is conventional or organic, is antibiotic-free, and all milk is tested for antibiotics, both before it leaves the farm and again at the dairy processing plant. If it tests positive, the milk is discarded. When and if a dairy cow needs to be treated with antibiotics, she is tagged and her milk is not sold until it tests free of antibiotics. If an organic cow needs to be treated with antibiotics, she permanently leaves the herd and goes to a conventional dairy farm. Additionally, Michigan dairy farmers do not use added hormones in the production of milk, and, in fact, stopped the use of RbST in 2008 due to consumer demand. Go forth with confidence knowing the milk you’re serving your littles is packed with nutrition…and nothing else.
Myth #4: Organic milk is more nutritious than conventional or chocolate milk.
Fact: Conventional and organic milks have the same amount of vitamins, minerals, and protein. The difference lies in farm practices, and typically requires organic cows to be fed organically-grown food. Chocolate milk has the same nine essential nutrients as white milk, and more than half of the sugar in chocolate milk is a natural sugar called lactose, found in all cow’s milk. Believe it or not, chocolate milk is a far better choice for a lunchtime treat than most of the boxed beverages out there.
Myth #5: Plant-based beverages are healthier than cow’s milk.
Fact: Many of the vitamins and minerals naturally found in cow’s milk are added to plant-based beverages, along with stabilizers and emulsifiers in order to come closer to the nutrition found in cow’s milk. Milk is packed with natural calcium (along with eight other essential nutrients) while plant beverages have added calcium which often sink the the bottom of the carton and never make it to your glass. Cow’s milk is also a powerhouse in comparison when it comes to protein and amino acids. Nature speaks for itself here, folks!
Myth #6: Milk increases mucus production, so I should skip it when the kids are sick.
Fact: No link has been found between milk or dairy and mucus production. Milk is an emulsion, a blend of fluid and solids (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). When this emulsion combines with saliva in the mouth, the saliva temporarily becomes thicker. This natural process led people to believe that milk was increasing mucus when, in reality, it was a temporary “film in your mouth” that could be rinsed away with a few sips of water. Read more in-depth information on this here. Don’t miss out on the nutrients of milk, especially when sickness is depleting already.
Fact: When it comes to good nutrition, dairy is an irreplaceable source of essential nutrients.
Milk has a unique combination of nine essential nutrients: protein; calcium; phosphorus; vitamins A, D, and B12; riboflavin; niacin; and, pantothenic acid. Each of these nutrients is a key ingredient of milk, and they all work together to help keep our bodies healthy. Nutrient-rich dairy also supplies three of the four nutrients of concern identified by dietary guidelines. These nutrients are calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
Now that we’ve covered what’s the truth and what isn’t, we hope you’ll feel confident in continuing to choose dairy. While we can’t make decisions for our childrens’ nutrition forever, we can make the best choices with the best information available for as long as possible.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of dairy, and explore lots of delicious recipes, visit the Milk Means More website!