Cows milk is full of nutrients, and for those who do not have allergies or intolerances to dairy, it is a great source of calcium. But too much cows milk can have a negative effect on children’s health.
What effect could too much cow’s milk have?
Cows milk is very low in iron, therefore children who drink a lot of cow’s milk can be at higher risk of an iron deficiency. The protein and calcium in the cows milk also reduces the amount of iron that is absorbed in the gut, contributing to lower iron levels. Drinking excessive amounts of cow’s milk is also very filling for children meaning they have less room for other foods, including those foods that are high in iron and other essential nutrients!
Constipation is another issue that may result from drinking too much cow’s milk, this is because large amounts of milk can decrease a child’s appetite and displace fibre rich plant based foods with help regulate bowel movements.
Should cow’s milk be avoided completely?
Definitely not! However, for children under 12 months, cow’s milk should not be the main milk source. These children should be breast fed or given infant formula. It is safe however to offer cow’s milk through cheeses and yogurts, or a small portion on breakfast cereals. Cow's milk is one of the 9 common allergens, for this reason, introducing it before 12 months and offering it regularly may reduce the risk of developing an allergy later in life.
For children older than 12 months, cow’s milk can be offered as a regular drink however this should be no more than 500mls each day.