What kind of milk should I feed my child when I change from formula?
Children ages 12 to 24 months should only drink whole milk. Children 2 to 5 years old should take 1 or 2 percent milk, and children 5 and older should drink skim milk.
The rational for this is that your child continues to need the higher cholesterol found in whole milk for brain and nerve growth and development. Cholesterol is necessary for the formation of myelin, the major component found in the protective membranes around these body parts. This membrane formation is completed by 24 months, so at that time you should reduce the fat amount in milk to 1 or 2 percent. This allows for the additional calories young children need for growth but reduces the high fat that can lead to heart disease later in life. Drinking only skim milk for children older than 5 (and all adults) removes this source of cholesterol and saturated fat entirely.
The only thing removed from milk as you decrease from whole to skim is the fat. The protein content, carbohydrate (lactose) and minerals stay the same. By the way, Vitamin D is added to all milk forms, not just whole milk.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.