What types of milk are best to give to young children?


  • During the first months of his life, the baby should be fed exclusively with milk through breastfeeding or infant milk.
  • The prevention of iron deficiency must be based on a systematic and prolonged consumption of growth milks.
  • Animal and vegetable milks are not suitable for babies.

“In the first months of his life, the baby’s diet must be exclusively milk through breastfeeding or infant milk”, recommends Inserm as a preamble in a press release. At 1 year, the diet is completely diversified, but the child should ideally still consume 2 bottles of infant milk per day, “because it is entering a period of intense growth which requires very specific contributions to avoid deficiencies, especially in iron”, say the experts.

Give preference to infant formula fortified with iron to avoid deficiency

In France, the prevention of iron deficiency must be based on “a systematic and prolonged consumption of milk-based foods for young children, more commonly called” growth milks “, enriched in order to reach the recommended average daily nutritional requirements, ie 5 mg from 1 to 3 years”, scientists continue.

Chis prevention is all the more important since when iron deficiency affects the youngest children, “it is strongly suspected of causing harmful neurocognitive effects, such as reduced learning and memory capacities or visual or auditory sensorineural impairment”, adds Inserm.

To reach these conclusions, researchers from the EPOPé team (Equipe d’Epidémiologie Obstétricale Perinatal et Pédiatrique) and from the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Statistics (Inserm, University of Paris UMR 1153) studied the association between or without growth milk and the occurrence of iron deficiency in 561 infants aged 2 years.

Before 3 years old: pay attention to animal and vegetable milk

ANSES (National Agency for Health Security) regularly reminds us that the nutritional profile of cow’s milk is not suitable for toddlers, for whom it is necessary to resort to milk specifically designed according to their age.

This is also valid for the milk of other animals (goat, sheep, mare), as well as for vegetable juices (almond, hazelnut, oats, rice, chestnut, etc.), which should be avoided before 3 years. “Indeed, too thin, not enough calories and low in calcium, iron, zinc, etc. – they do not provide the baby with everything he needs”, concludes Inserm.


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