Who Gives Their Toddler Whole Milk?

Updated on October 06, 2011
M.U. asks from Tampa, FL
37 answers

My son is 27 months old and from everything I read, I should have switched from whole to low-fat milk when he turned 2. However, he has always been on the lower end of weight (10-15%ile) and is still not a great eater, so I continue to give him whole milk which he loves. I am not concerned about the weight, but I am beginning to wonder if whole millk after 2 is not healthy because of the cholestorol. This has never been an issue when I was growing up and I think everyone I know was drinking whole milk, especially children. I would love to hear from some mamas out there on this topic. Thanks for your time!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone, very helpful to get other mom's input. As many of you noted, we don't give milk before dinner. He still prefers it a bit before going to bed. He does drink it first thing in the morning too, but he usually eats fairly well at breakfast. I will check with pedi but my instinct tells me to keep him on whole milk and getting all your feedback confirms my instincts.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I gave my daughter whole milk her whole life, she's now grown and still drinks whole milk, and she has never had a weight or cholesterol problem.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

My kids are 10 & 12 years old & we switch between whole & 2%. Weight is not an issue for either one of them. Skim & even 1% to me personally is vile & I will never buy it or drink it, much less force it on my kids who have great diets that include plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains & a multi-vitamin.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

my kids never really drank milk as a diet staple--coconut milk is a treat for them. Dietary cholesterol is not linked to cholesterol levels in humans, high cholestoral comes from consuming trans fats (which is only found in processed foods). Higher fat content for kids will not make them super fat. Loading them up with sugar and processed foods which contain trans fats and massive doses of sodium will make them fat.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on


Why? Because I'd taken my neurology coursework while he was an infant. From a neurological point of view the LAST thing you want to do is to out any otherwise healthy toddler on a low fat diet. Because their brain is still growing and nerves are still mylenating. Both of which need VERY HIGH levels of fats in their diet.

It's also theorized (not proved, but it makes good/solid common sense) that ONE of the factors for childhood obesity is that so many infants and toddlers ***are not getting enough to eat***. They're put on low cal, low fat, ADULT diets while their bodies are trying to grow bones and organs. Their bodies need every available calorie for that, and living in a 'famine' zone their bodies crank down their metabolism as much as possible / stores every spare calorie available for use in growing later. AKA they get really fat OR as fat as possible. The chubbier they get, the more their parents starve them of what they need to grow, the more their bodies stack away the energy/fat. Vicious cycle.

Something to keep in mind; when people in this country were universally THIN, they didn't eat reduced fat ANYTHING. Not only that, but their fat levels were far increased. Whole milks, butter on sammies, cream in their coffee, whole wedges of cheese every day. Their kids were nursed until they were 2. These were the generations BEFORE the baby boom generation (born prior to 1940) which *also* had far better heart health. It's kind of a 'go figure'. Whole foods, without a lot of extra sugars (low fat foods are all replaced with starches), and exercise throughout their days. That's healthy???

So I took the advice of my neurology professors and early childhood nutrition professor, and stuck with a high fat, dense (proteins, minerals, fats, carbs) diet until just recently, as a matter of fact. My son's 9, and he's just hit puberty. Which is the only known "line" for when nutritional needs change. ((and man, oh man, have the "pregnancy cravings" hit with him big time. I almost got drunk out of milk last week... and the boy was putting spinach on *everything*. This week he's all about the red meat. Okay, okay, I get it. You're about to start adding some length to those bones of yours.))

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I do! I'm one of those weirdos who thinks that fat is good for a growing child's neuro development. I'd rather restrict sugar than fat.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

All my kids were raised on whole milk. At one time a friend had a cow and we bought cow's milk from them. His milk had 25% to 28% cream. We would separate the cream and make ice cream and butter. I sure missed that wonderful milk when he moved away.

Unless weight is a problem, don't worry about it. Your child is in more danger riding in a car seat in your car than he is from whole milk.

Good luck to you and yours.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi M.-

We STILL drink whole milk here...and my kiddos are almost 15 to 22 now! I figure that we all eat a healthy low fat diet...and the brain is still continuing to develop and needs some fat from somewhere...so I stuck with whole.

None of the kiddos have weight issues...

Best Luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

My son is 5 years old and drinks whole milk - the only milk he has had since coming off formula when he was 1. I drink whole milk too and always have. Nobody in my family is overweight either. You should give your son what you feel comfortable giving! We are definitely a whole milk family! :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Ditto Riley...BIGTIME...

My hubs is a peds neurologist and does cutting edge research on the Ketogenic Diet, which is a super high fat diet used quite successfully to control epilepsy and other forms of sever seizure disorders....anyhow....his research is proving that the right types of fats are extremely neuro-protective. Both the epileptic and autistic rats seizure and social issues improve greatly when on the higher fat diets.

So, my whole life I have served my kids 2% milk, and we have switched back to whole milk this past year. They prefer it.

I just cringe when I see families with young children buying skim milk at the store. There is soooo much brain development going on.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

In the past few years emerging research has suggested that the lowfat and fat free milks are one of the problems, not a solution to obesity. My husband is a physician, and he now recommends that all of his patients drink only whole milk. I know several family practice and pediatricians who have also revised their guidelines to direct all kids to drink whole milk. So, after having my 4 yr old on 1% for 2 years, I recently switched back to whole for him (he had been putting on a bit of meat before I switched back). My 2 yr old is also on whole milk, and has been for a year and is thin. My dad is in his early 60s and is the ONLY person in our family who has always drank whole milk, while the rest of us have struggled with our weight from time to time, and we all drank skim.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I've never had anything except whole milk in my home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

I still give my two kids whole milk and they are 6 and 3 years old. They are both skinny as a rail and busy busy busy. BUT, make sure your son isn't replacing food with milk. My son would guzzle down his whole glass of milk then tell us he wasn't hungry for dinner. My friends pediatrician told her that milk has a hormone in it that suppresses hunger.
New house rule: Eat at least half of your dinner, then you may drink 1/4 of your milk, then work through the rest of your meal at your own pace. That has helped drastically, he can now finish (or close enough) what's on his plate, and sometimes doesn't finish his milk.
Try starting your sons meal without a drink, then part way through give him water (so he isn't dying of thirst), then finish off the meal with milk.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My toddler does....We just got the lecture from the pediatrician that my older 2 should be drinking milk.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I do. My daughter is three and a completely healthy weight. Shoot, that kid looks like she lift weights!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

My daugther drinks 2% when she's at school and when we are out (since that is what a lot of places serve now) but at home it is whole milk. She'll be 5 in two months.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My ped told us when to switch, based on BMI, which takes both height and weight into consideration. So, for example, if your son is 15th percentile in weight, and only 5th percentile in height, his BMI might be high and he might need to switch to 2%; conversely, if he's in the 15th percentile in weight but 75th in height, his BMI is likely very low and the whole milk might be better for him. Your ped should be able to calculate this and let you know. I forget when it was that we switched, exactly, but it wasn't right at age 2 (maybe it was 3).

My only other comment is that if your son isn't a great eater, don't give him the milk until after mealtime. My younger son will totally fill up on milk as soon as we give it to him and then not eat. So we learned to give water only starting about an hour before dinner and also with dinner. He gets a cup of milk after he eats. He became a much better eater almost instantly.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Our ped said whole milk until further notice. He is tall and slim and almost 9. I'll be asking again at his 9 yr check up. Dr. said he will probably need to switch to 1% or 2 % at prepubesence when boys tend to put on a little extra weight in the belly.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

3 of my 4 boys are on the lower end of height/weight charts, so we continue to drink whole milk. My one boy that is on the top of the height/weight charts still drinks whole milk as well and he is as healthy as can be (no weight issue, he's just a BIG boy!). My boys are 3, 4, 5 & 9.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I used whole milk until they were abut 4, and than we switched more because i got tired of buying 2 milks (one for them and one for me). My SO drank whole milk his whole life. it actually has a lot of important fats that are good for brain growth. I would not worry about it, and let him have it if he is not over weight or anything.


answers from Santa Fe on

I give both my kids whole milk (ages 2 and 7). I grew up only on whole milk and that is what I drink as well. It's not that much more fat really. We are all "too skinny" people. My kids both eat their food/snacks so I know drinking whole milk w their meal is not a problem w cutting down on their appetite. I have low cholesterol. My husband drinks no milk or skim milk (and did growing up) and he has high cholesterol. It's a genetic thing. I think if my kids tended towards getting obese I would not use whole milk but they are both string beans. I think you are TOTALLY fine giving your son whole milk.


answers from Columbia on

Otay, so I'm late.

I know mine aren't toddlers, but here's something to consider. I have an 8 year old and a 10 year old. They're both twiglets. My oldest came home from school and told me "Mom, the school thinks all kids are fat. They only give us FAT FREE milk!"

Well, I was a little ticked about this! Because it's all I can DO to keep weight on my boys. They've very active and my younger child is a picky eater.

I had been giving them 2% milk at home, but the next time I went to the store, I started buying whole milk. I'm hoping to make up some of what they're missing at school. The funny thing is, they used to not drink much milk...and now they drink at LEAST two cups a day at home!

Anyhow, there's my experience. Daycare and school will likely be skimping on the fats your child needs...so you might need to make them up at home. ;o)



answers from New York on

My son was allergic to milk protein as an infant up until about 18 mo, so we gave him soy milk. At first the sweetened one, so it would taste more like breast milk, but then began mixing with the unsweetened organic soy until he was fine with just that. We never switched him over to regular milk even though he eats plenty of other dairy these days. The whole family likes soy milk better, and it is better for my husband who is not lactose intolerant per se, but sometimes has digestive trouble and he claims cows milk gives him gas.



answers from Cleveland on

Talk to his doctor... he may need to stay on whole milk longer because of weight issues. The reason they say to use whole milk till they are 2 is for brain development... the extra fat help the brain out. My 1 yr old is the only one out of 5 that actually would/will drink whole milk the rest of them would and still will only drink 2% milk, unless you add flavor to it.

One of my kids needed to stay on formula till he was 15 mo old because of weight issues... since it have more nutriance then milk.

Most of what you read are guildlines, but not every child will fall within those guildlines. Sometimes moms and doctors need to make adjustments to the average care so that the kid in question is healthy and gets the best start that they can. Please talk to you son's docotor before switching... I think it would be best for him & for your own peace of mind.



answers from Detroit on

My ped recommends whole until kindergarten but my four year old gets whole about half the time and 2% the rest. My toddler only gets whole and my 7 year old has mostly 2% though she says whole tastes better. We have no size issues, my kids are big but proportional.


answers from San Antonio on

I don't know if it's bad or not, but my 3.5 yr old still drinks whole milk. He was born at 5%ile on weight. He's now at like 10 or 15%ile. He's 3.5 and size 18 month pants fit his waist still. So you're not the only one who didn't switch him over at age 2. I will be curious to read what other moms say on this post. (Today actually i got him coconut milk. I dont think it tastes that good, but he may like it. In which case, I will switch him to coconut milk!)



answers from Houston on

When I was young, they didn't even HAVE skimmed or semi milk, it was all whole. I was thin thin thin, until I was about 25, then I ballooned due to a thyroid problem. My mother always said, if it wasn't for milk, I wouldn't have had any nutrition, as I was a picky eater.



answers from Victoria on

Both my kids drink whole milk. I have a one and a half yr old and a three and a half yr old. My son (3) drinks whole milk and is the 90% for weight and height. I am not going to buy both kinds of milk so they both get whole. I will switch to skim milk once my daughter turns two. I would think your pedi did not tell you to switch as your son has a lower weight. The extra fat might be good for him. Ask what the doc thinks about it.



answers from New York on

I do. Right now they need it. Maybe later on I will switch, but for now it is
whole milk.



answers from Jacksonville on

Mine are 3 and 5 - tall and slim and our ped recommended keeping them both on whole milk. Like yours, they don't drink before meals.



answers from Honolulu on

My son is 5 and still drinks whole milk... since he was a toddler.
He is, a picky eater.
He is however, VERY lean, but very tall/big for his age and in the upper 97+ percentiles for growth. Also he is very healthy.

Milk fats are an essential NUTRIENT for brain growth, for one thing.
It is not just about the calcium.

I am also an avid milk drinker and have been since I was a kid. I have NEVER EVER, had high cholesterol and have never been overweight.
Until I was pregnant.



answers from Boca Raton on

You child is not a calf, therefore I suggest NOT giving him the lactational secretions of a cow, intended for THEIR offspring, not yours. Cows produce milk (just like you did) when you give birth to make their babies a 2000+ pound cow in a matter of months. It's not for a human. If you're looking for calcium, try green leafy veggies, seaweeds, nuts and seeds. They are by far healthier and won't make him obese, give him allergies and other ailments long term. Check out www.notmilk.com



answers from Washington DC on

We were told to keep my daughter on whole milk for the fat content until she was over 4. It worked out for us because we had littler ones in the house. So they were on it until she was probably 9.
She has no issues with cholesterol she is now 16.

Also my grandfather just died at 93 this year. He wouldn't drink anything but whole milk. He had high blood pressure and diverticulitis. Not because of the milk he drank though.



answers from Detroit on

My kids are 18 months apart.. so my older child stayed on whole milk till she was 3.5 and my son was 2. I just couldnt buy 3 cartons of milk per week. too much waste.. my kids are both skinny I dont worry about cholesterol. I think cholesterol is almost all genetics. not so much what you eat.


answers from Norfolk on

We stayed on whole milk till my son was about 4 yrs old.
Cholesterol is important for growth and development and toddlers and preschoolers are growing/developing very rapidly.


answers from Kansas City on

I didn't have time to see if anyone said this.. But as of this coming Saturday, the USDA food program for daycare centers is REQUIRING that all children 2 and up be fed only skim or 1% milk.



answers from Seattle on

I plan to give my 3 year old whole milk for as long as I can. He doesn't like milk at all, so whatever he does drink has to be complete. He is also very skinny (barely 5percentile). So I wouldn't worry about cholestrol and such. This should be easily taken care of as long as the kid is physically quite active.

Thanks to S L M.'s post, I think I am going to start providing whole milk for his preschool too.



answers from Detroit on

My default answer has always been, talk to your pediatrician and see what he/she says. But you could always switch to 2% milk so it's still some fat, but less fat. Then gradually transition him to 1%, then maybe skim if your pediatrician agrees. Currently my daughter is 4 years old, drinks 1%, and is 75% for both height and weight. I would also make sure that he is not just filling up on milk and having that contribute to him not being a great eater. If my daughter guzzles down a class of milk before eating anything, she barely eats any dinner. I have her on the low-fat milk now partially because of health concerns, and also not wanting her to get used to whole milk and then want to drink only whole milk all her life because anything less seems too watery. Plus I drink the 1% too so I am not buying 2 different kinds of milk if DD doesn't need something different from what I am having. DD does get a multi-vitamin every day along with a DHA/Omega 3 supplement for her brain development.

There are also foods like avocado and salmon that are full of "healthy fats" that you could try - I've even seen recipes that use avocado mixed with cocoa powder to make "chocolate pudding"!

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