I thought we’d be breastfeeding exclusively for a year, but Ayo seems to be thinking otherwise. In all honesty, I’m not too sad about it. As someone recently said, we’ll be happy to have my breasts back in the family. We sailed through my initial goal of four, then six, eight, ten months of nursing with only the rare storm in my breastfeeding career. There was of course Hurricane Abandon-Breast, when we ‘lost’ one crew member altogether. We also persevered through Hurricane French-Scorn, when we got stared down at the grocery store in France (making me wonder if breast is really best?) and we survived the odd Hurrricane Blocked-Duct. We endured Hurricane 50-Eyeballs-Watching…not to forget increasing Hurricane Whyareu-Hidingmyfaceunder-Ascarfs?. We made it through those too, unscathed. Still, I figured, given how easy it was for me to give Ayo liquid gold, why not cruise through to the year marker without the help of well-meaning pharmaceutical companies (maybe) and cow udders (most certainly).
Around ten months, however, Ayo was harder to put to bed at night and was waking up more at night, as if he were still hungry. I supplemented one nighttime feeding with 4oz (118ml) of rBGH-free Morning Fresh cow’s whole milk. To my surprise, he chugged it all down. Take that, nectar de maman! Thankfully, I wasn’t made redundant completely. Mr. Ayo-pants will only accept cow in addition to maman and only at night and only in a bottle. For the most part, he refuses cow’s milk and bottles altogether during the day. But this has created a bit of a problem – namely that kiddos his age require 16-24oz. (473-710ml) of milk daily, in addition to three meals of solids. Ayo is currently a good eater (thanks to Super Baby Food, with a small penchant for seaweed and almond butter), but would make a great camel and skip any form of liquid during the day if given the choice. Working with our pediatrician, we calculated his recent milk intake to be at about 12oz. (355ml) – with maybe another 2oz. (60ml) of liquids from solid foods. Doc. is not too concerned, but would prefer Ayo to drink another 2-4oz. (60-118ml) But with Ayo’s mild cow milk strike and the dizzying array of milk varieties in our grocery store today, which type of milk would really make a nutritious 4oz. (118ml) supplement to mother’s nectar at 10.5 months? Shall we try whole milk, raw milk, goat’s milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk? That isn’t even the long list. Definitely a first world problem. But we do have the choice and I am curious by nature – so, thus started my latest research project, with the code name ‘Operation: Got Milk?‘. Here are some highlights of my research outside of the more well-known world of pasteurized cow’s milk.
Goat’s milk contains 10 grams of fat per 8oz compared to 8-9 grams in whole cow’s milk. However, it does not contain agglutinin meaning that the fat globules don’t cluster together making them a whole lot easier to digest. This milk is made up of more essential fatty acids that are important for infant development and it just so happens to be less allergenic. Goat’s milk contains lower levels of lactose (4.1% vs. 4.7%) but 13% more calcium, 25% more vitamin B6 and 47% more vitamin A, 134% more potassium and three times more niacin. If you really dig deeper, you’ll find that goat wins in copper (4x) and has 27% more selenium (antioxidant). It is one of our serious milk contenders, only severely lacking folic acid (12 mcg. in cow’s milk versus 1 mcg. for goat’s milk per eight ounces with an RDA of 75-100 mcg. for children) and vitamin B12 (cow’s has 5x the amount). Taste-wise, it will remind you of milk more than its non-animal counterparts. The fatty goodness beautifully coats the glass with a layer of coarse goat hair. Just kidding about the goat hair part, but you can definitely taste it is from goat. It sort of tastes like drinking cow’s milk after eating goat’s cheese.
Almond milk is high in vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, iron, fiber, zinc, calcium and antioxidants but low in calories (40 cal per 8oz.) and fat, which is not a good thing for little ones, according to my research. Almond milk is lactose, gluten, casein and cholesterol free – but we’re thankfully not needing to look for gluten and lactose free milk.
Coconut milk seems to vary in nutritional content depending on the brand. Many are enriched with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, magnesium, folate, iron, selenium and zinc. The ‘milk’ has healthy fatty acids that are not found in dairy milk. Fifty percent of the fatty acids in coconut milk is lauric acid, which turns into monolaurin in your body. Monolaurin has antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal (say what?) activity against strains of staphylococcus and listeria, according to a study by Dr. Mary G. Enig entitled, “Coconut: In Support of Good Health in the 21st Century.”
Because of the high levels of fatty acids in coconut milk and the nutritional value of almond milk, we tried an unsweetened almond-coconut milk this past week. Ayo loved it immediately. I personally would prefer him not to only want flavored milk, even if unsweetened, but nice to have an option with so many minerals and fats…
To make things a bit easier, here is a basic comparison of the most common milks (keeping in mind the variations based on brand):
The United States is funny about raw (unpasteurized) milk but we’re really privileged to at least live in a State where raw milk is tolerated. A farmer’s market four blocks from us carts in raw milk from their farm and sells it to ‘share holders’. I don’t want to breeze over the goodness of this elixir in a few sentences. I think it’s worth reading an article like this about it or at least read this chart of nutritional benefits (1 cup being about 227gr). If you are more courageous and have some time on your hands, you might like to dive into the articles here. Let’s just say that raw milk was once used as medicine to cure chronic diseases. You could live on it alone if you had to. “Early studies showed that children consuming raw milk had greater resistance to disease, better growth and stronger teeth than children consuming pasteurized milk. Animal studies indicate that raw milk confers better bone structure, better organ development, better nutrient assimilation, better fertility and even better behavior than pasteurized milk”, www.realmilk.com writes. Some call it “nature’s perfect food” because it isn’t stripped of beneficial nutrients in the pasteurization process. This unhomogenized milk would be my top choice for Ayo if it weren’t so cost prohibitive. To maneuver legal restrictions in the States surrounding raw milk, you have to purchase a one-time (refundable) cow share ($40 downpayment) for ‘your’ cow’s boarding, milking fee and delivery fee and a yearly fee of $12. Then, you pay for your weekly supply of raw milk. Ouch. The amount is thankfully digressive based on how much you order, so we calculated it would only be affordable if we could rally friends together to buy 4 gallons (15 Liters) worth weekly. Our family could not drink more than about 1 gal weekly. So, any Colorado friends interested in raw milk, with the possibility to visit the farm and milk the cows with the kids, contact me! In the meantime, we’ll continue experimenting with our goat, almond-coconut, whole milk cocktails.
So, those were some of the gems of this past week’s ‘Operation: Got Milk?’. Hopefully the information above is not too boring and can be helpful to you too, either for your children as they transition to milk or for yourselves. I’ve once again learned a lot about the nutritional value of our own milk intake in this process.
31st Jan Update: Since posting this I was asked why I didn’t consider soy ‘milk’ in my above research, and that is because I don’t think it has the nutritional benefits I can find in the other milks mentioned here. Once the go-to ‘milk’ for health-concious people, soy now comes with so many disclaimers and negative effects for adults and babies due to phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein. Here is one reminder from the AAP:
“A whopping 35 percent of bottle-fed babies in the United States receive at least some of their protein from soy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is taking steps to change this: It recommends that all infants who cannot be breastfed be given cow’s-milk formulas as the first preferred alternative. Healthy full-term infants should be given soy formula only when medically necessary, the AAP’s 2008 report states. Babies with an extreme form of lactose intolerance fall into this category, but many others who suffer from colic and excessive crying are switched to soy formula despite a lack of proven benefits.”
compare milks: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/1451-milk-cow-goat-rice-almond-soy-nutrition-comparison.html
raw: http://www.organicpastures.com/nutritional.html, http://www.realmilk.com/
and http://www.realmilk.com/real-milk-finder/#co (thanks, T for these links!)