Homogenized milk: Bad for kids?

My one year old daughter has been drinking a milk-based formula to supplement breastfeeding since the age of 6 months, with no adverse reaction. I am now trying to decide whether to discontinue formula and replace it with straight milk. I've heard lots of pros and cons on giving children milk and am still confused and undecided.

Some say that only homo milk should be given before the age of two because children need the fat and calories. Others say that milk-fat is "bad" fat and kids can get all the calories and fat they need from other sources like flax seed oil, olive oil, soy milk etc. I've also heard that children who drink homo milk are more susceptible to ear infections.

What is your opinion on this?
Thank you.


Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Pamela,

First, just to clear things up, most all milk you buy at the store is homogenized. In other words, whatever fat is in it, it has been mixed into the milk so that it does not rise to the top. This is done whether the milk is whole milk, 2%, 1% or less. The advice on milk for children under 2 is to be sure the milk they get is whole milk. This is because they need the fat calories.

I have not seen any nutritional studies that show that milk fat is bad for kids. Milk fat is saturated fat, which is fat that should be limited in the diets of older children and adults. Some saturated fat is fine and appropriate for your young daughter. Because she has had no reaction to cow milk formula, she should have no problem with whole milk. It is a great way for her to get concentrated calories plus protein, calcium and vitamin D. Those other fats you mentioned are also okay, but you would need to make an effort to find ways to include them in her diet if you should not feed her whole milk.

In regards to ear infections and milk drinking, for those children who are allergic to milk, drinking it could be causing ear infections. That is because their allergic reaction will cause the formation of mucus which may back up in the ear tube, precipitating the infection. Some children who have not previously been diagnosed as milk allergic may find out this way.

Ear infections are very common in young children, and often a parent's frustration will lead to placing blame where it might not necessarily belong. One should be very cautious in withholding milk because they believe it is the cause of their children's ear infections. To do so incorrectly may cause the omission of a very nutritious food from their diet.

If your daughter is thriving on her current diet and does well with milk, then I suggest you continue on that road, replacing her formula with whole milk now that she is one.

Thank you for writing.

Need Advice?
Get answers from iVillage experts and other moms just like you!
Question Details
  1. Pick a subject:
Connect with 1,039,394 members just like you
Share your knowledge, ask questions.