The health benefits of milk for babies include supply of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, calcium and phosphorous; reduction in acidity, induces sleep, remedy for respiratory diseases and hydration of body during summers.
Milk is one of the wholesome foods that nature has gifted to us. Not only is milk tasty, it’s also very healthy. Milk is also one of the most commonly found foods throughout the world. It is considered by many as ‘nature’s nearly perfect food’.
Milk has been consumed by humanity from times immemorial. It can be said that the habit of drinking milk may have started off with agriculture, as animals provided power for agriculture.
In many parts of the world, milk from number of animals is consumed, which range from cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, camel, etc. Of all these milks, cow’s milk is believed to be of superior quality compared to buffalo’s milk, goat’s milk, camel’s milk, etc. Cow’s milk contains almost double the amount of protein found in breast milk with less sugar. Buffalo’s milk, on the other hand has more fat than cow’s milk.
Nutrition in milk
According to the National Nutrient Database, United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrition found in milk includes
|Nutrition Component||Value per 100 g||Nutrition Component||Value per 100 g|
|Water||2.47 g||Energy||496 kcal|
|Protein||26.3 g||Total Lipid||26.7 g|
|Carbohydrates||38.4 g||Fiber||0 g|
|Sugars||38.4 g||Calcium||912 mg|
|Iron||0.47 mg||Magnesium||85 mg|
|Phosphorus||776 mg||Potassium||1330 mg|
|Sodium||371 mg||Zinc||3.34 mg|
|Vitamin C||8.6 mg||Thiamin||0.283 mg|
|Riboflavin||1.205 mg||Niacin||0.646 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.302 mg||Folate||37 µg|
|Vitamin B-12||3.25 µg||Vitamin A||934 IU|
|Vitamin E||0.58 mg||Vitamin D||420 IU|
|Vitamin K||2.2 µg|
Is it safe to give milk to my baby?
Mostly giving cow’s milk is safe, but some babies can have milk allergy. The protein present in milk is not digestible by babies and hence, the allergy. Almost all children out grow the allergy but some children might retain it as years pass by. It has also been found that milk allergy occurs mostly in bottle-fed babies compared to breastfed babies.
Health benefits of milk for babies
Here are some of the health benefits of milk for babies
Best sources of calcium and phosphorous: The amount of calcium and phosphorous found in milk is more than sufficient for developing healthy bones, teeth and various body functions such as muscle contraction, regulating enzymes, cell membrane function, nerve conductivity, etc. Apart from calcium, phosphorous is also found in milk. Phosphorous also plays a major role in bone health. Other benefits of phosphorous include digestion, increased brain function, helps in forming proteins and helps in repairing cells.
Reduces acidity: Acidity can also occur in children, just like in adults. Milk is one of the best acid neutralizers. When your child is suffering from acidity, a glass of milk can do the trick. Milk contains alkaline forming elements that quickly neutralize the gastric acid. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Remedy for respiratory diseases: When facing respiratory diseases such as common cold, hoarseness, laryngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis and asthma, milk can be taken regularly to get considerable relief. Early in the morning, add a pinch of turmeric and a small spoonful of freshly pulverized pepper to hot milk and give it to your child. Give this medicine for 3-4 days to find relief. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Good for gaining weight: Milk is good for gaining weight as well. The nutrients found in milk such as protein, sugars, carbohydrates and fat make it one of the best foods that help in gaining weight.
Reduces insomnia: Having a glass of milk with a tablespoon of honey before going to bed is perhaps, a better way to get sleep. This mixture acts like a tonic and a tranquilizer. Note: Please give honey only after 1 year of age.
Hydrates the body: It is important to maintain adequate hydration in the body. Even a drop in 10% of water can lead to many problems. During summer time, giving milk to your child can be very beneficial as milk not supplies nutrients but it also rehydrates the body.
What measures should I take while giving milk to my child?
Always pasteurize: Milk must always be given only after pasteurization. Do not, under any circumstances give unpasteurized milk to your child. An abundance of microbial growth takes place in raw milk. These microbes are known to cause very deadly diseases.
Look for milk allergies: Some babies, might not be able to digest any other milk except for breast milk. So, it is better to avoid milk other than breast milk. In most cases, your baby will outgrow this situation, but it might retain in some children. If you find allergic reactions like anaphylaxis, immediately consult your pediatrician. (Hypoallergenic Infant Formulas, AAP).
Risk of developing milk allergies: In most cases, allergy to milk occurs in bottle fed babies, when compared to breastfed babies. If you’re feeding your baby with formula milk, there is risk of developing milk allergy in the coming months. Breast milk is the best milk for babies. (Hypoallergenic Infant Formulas, AAP).
Stop whole milk after 2 years of age: Whole milk is essential for baby’s overall development including physical as well as mental development. The fats found in whole milk are essential for brain development. But giving whole milk after 2 years of age increases the risk of overweight and obesity. To reduce such a risk, stop giving whole milk and encourage only skimmed milk.