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Can my 12 month old eat low-fat milk?

Q: Is low-fat milk suitable for my 12 month old? I am concerned about childhood obesity.

A: No. Babies and toddlers need lots of energy to keep up their rapid growth. Because they have small stomachs and cannot eat large quantities of food, they need nutrient-dense food - that is, nutritive quality, not quantity.

Low-fat milks have virtually no fat and are unsuitable for a 12 month old child. From 12 months either continue with breastmilk or Follow-On formula, or use Toddler milk or ordinary milk (3 to 4% fat).

By the third year growth rate slows down considerably so energy needs are not as great. However, for children under 5 years old, fat intake should not be significantly reduced due to possible effects on growth. Nutritious foods like milk, cheese and dairy products should not be restricted. From five years you can start introducing some lower fat dairy foods.

If a child is gaining excessive weight it is more important to avoid or restrict other high-fat foods such as pastries, pies and fried chips, high-fat cookies as well as sugary drinks and sweet foods.

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