Once your child turns one, the AAP recommends that they transition from formula to milk…cow’s milk that is. But, more and more of my patients state that they prefer to drink almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk and even goat’s milk. I am constantly having to look up the calcium, protein or fat content of all of these “cow’s milk alternatives”. In the majority of the cases there is not a medical issue driving the choice of milk, but rather parental preference for non dairy, lactose free etc. etc.
Interestingly, I just read an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found that children that drink non-cow’s milk may be “slightly shorter” than those children of the same age who drink cow’s milk. There is an ongoing research project which studied about 5,000 children between the ages of 2 and 6, and looked for height differences between those children “who consumed about 8 ounces of non-cow’s milk per day compared to those who drank the same amount of cow’s milk”.
The children who drank non-cow’s milk were about 0.15 inches shorter than average for their age. Although this is just one study, it will be important to continue to evaluate this data to see if the height differences continue into adolescence. This is a good study to keep following.
While I am always concerned about the calcium intake in children and their long term bone health, here is yet another concern.
It may be time to re-think your family’s milk choice and unless there is a medical reason to avoid dairy…..try good old cow’s milk…it may actually make you a bit taller?