What’s the best source of milk for your baby after 12 months? Breast milk is still the best choice and whole milk is the next best option, but many Chinese parents still prefer toddler formula. One way to cut through the hype is simply to ask your child’s doctor: “What would you use for your own kids?” What will I feed my own Alex when he turns 1? Honestly, I am still not sure, but here are my choices:
Local organic milk. Many people buy a local brand of certified organic milk and yogurt called Green Yard. I can’t vouch 100 percent for its safety, but I trust it as much as I trust anything here.
Imported ultra high-temperature (UHT) milk. With a shelf life of six to eight months, UHT milk is now available all over China. I personally don’t like its taste and have strong objections over its environmental impact, but it’s affordable and keeps for a long time.
Fortified soy milk. I prefer the taste of soy milk to cow’s milk and it’s easy to make your own. However, your toddler would need to drink fortified soy since the homemade stuff doesn’t contain as much calcium.
Other milks. There are many types of milk made from rice and almonds. Some people like goat’s milk, including formula versions. These are possible alternatives, but I would rather stick with what most pediatricians recommend.
Milk is useful mostly for calcium and fats, but plenty of other foods can offer these, including:
Yogurt and cheese. I prefer yogurt over milk, not least because it’s easier to digest for most Asians. Yogurt contains healthy bacteria called probiotics that decrease the risk of obesity. You can even make your own with a yogurt machine, some starter yogurt, and milk. Another alternative is sliced cheese.
Canned fatty fish. Salmon and sardines are rich in calcium and omega 3s. Canned is actually better, since you can munch on the bones!
Leafy greens. Broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens are a good source of calcium. However, spinach is not the best choice since very little of its calcium gets absorbed.
Calcium-fortified foods. Many cereals and boxed orange juices contain added calcium, which can help for kids who hate milk.
Multivitamins. Children’s multivitamins can provide the absolute minimum of vitamins and minerals. It’s a perfectly reasonable solution for super picky eaters. For example, only 10 percent of teen girls get enough calcium.
photos: USDA on Wikimedia Commons
This article originally appeared on p23 of the beijingkids September 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com