Whole Milk, Infant Gas & Upset Stomach

Mother Giving Baby Son Bottle Of Milk
Whole milk is not a good source of nutrition for infants. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Gas and other stomach problems are among the most common symptoms infants experience. Babies frequently swallow large quantities of air while eating and do not have sufficient control over their own bodies to avoid eating in positions that cause gas, according to pediatrician William Sears. Infants under 1 year old should never be given whole milk because it can increase stomach problems and is an inadequate source of nutrition.

Infant Nutrition Overview

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. Children who are not breastfed should get their nutrition from formula. Thereafter, parents can introduce solid foods but should continue breast- or formula-feeding for at least the first year of life. Whole milk should not be introduced into a child's diet until she is at least 1 year old because the calories in whole milk are less complete than the calories in breast milk and formula, according to Sears in his book "The Portable Pediatrician."

Milk and Gas

Whole milk is particularly likely to cause gas in infants because babies can drink it faster than breast milk or formula. Gulping encourages babies to swallow air, resulting in stomach discomfort, according to Sears. Among children who drink a lot of whole milk, gas and other stomach problems may be the result of inadequate nutrition.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is a sugar that is naturally present in milk. Intolerance occurs when the body can't properly break down lactose, and lactose intolerance is very common after the age of 1, according to the textbook "Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology." Older babies who drink whole milk and suffer from stomach problems may be lactose intolerant.

Introducing Milk

Parents should not begin giving their children milk until they are fully weaned from breast milk or formula, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The practice of giving children whole milk is controversial, because some pediatricians have expressed concern that whole milk is excessively filling and contributes to the obesity epidemic, according to Sears. If you choose to give your child milk as a source of calcium and Vitamin D, follow your pediatrician's recommendations for daily intake and do not give milk in a bottle. Drinking milk out of a bottle increases a child's likelihood of developing gas and other stomach problems.

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