Toddler Milk or Formula? Beijing Mamas Respond

Which have you used for your toddlers here in China: milk or formula? During my research for my New York Times article I asked this question to the invaluable group of Beijing moms and dads on the Yahoo group Beijingmamas. Below are many of their answers which I thought many would find useful to read. This is a long post, spread out over a few pages, so sit back and enjoy. Please feel free to leave your own comments!

I have two kids, 6.5 and 8, born in the US and we came back when the younger one was just three months.

breast feeding formulaFor the younger one, I breastfed until he was 6 months and I had to go back to work.  We switched to formula but he was diagnosed with lots of allergies so we had to do that hypoallergenic formula called Neocate–worst tasting thing I’d ever encountered.  Though we didn’t give him fresh milk we gave him homemade yogurt.  Making yogurt is a good way to test the milk–bad milk doesn’t turn into yogurt.

I would have preferred to give him fresh milk after he turned one, but we had the allergy concern of course, and on top of that, we didn’t trust the quality of the milk here.  We’d read all these food books including Ominvore’s Dilemma and we didn’t even like most of the milk in the US.  For yogurt we’d only use either Green Yard or Wondermilk.  The marketing person for Wondermilk used to be on Beijing cafe and she’d talked about their operations.  We also trusted Green Yard because this other mom had seen their operations and Green Yard also supplies to some of the Chinese government agencies.  But later on I had read more about milk and apparently drinking milk is pretty controversial so my kids only do dairy in moderation, and when they do, they do whole milk.

Let’s talk about whole versus skim.  We’d recently read Gary Taubes’ book good calories and bad calories and I buy into his claim that one should watch out for carbs more than fat.  I don’t really see the point of giving kids skim milk–more attention should be paid to sweets and processed foods, the bit of fat won’t do anyone harm.

If/when we have another baby, and if we are still in Beijing, frankly I’d be confused, too.  I don’t even trust my own milk anymore, having breathed in, drank and eaten all this pollution, much less a local cow’s.  Every available choice here has its pros and cons.  All my local friends put their toddlers on foreign-made formula (which is quite a feat, given how difficult it is nowadays to smuggle I mean bring in foreign formula these days) because they don’t trust the milk here, fresh or powered.

Here’s my 2 cents:
1) I had never heard of giving a toddler formula before I moved here, we give him local milk.
2) I started with Wonder Milk but noticed a lot of people were buying the larger San Yuan milk so we switched to that (it’s much cheaper and always sells  out fast so I figured it is ok). Now we switch between the two brands, depending on what’s available.
3) whole milk as both my husband and myself grew up on it and still prefer it now.

We have a 2 1/2 year old and have used almost everything at some point. She was breastfed exclusively for 2 months and then I supplemented with Enfamil newborn due to my milk supply not being sufficient. We then gave her Enfamil infant along with breastmilk until six months of age. At six months she was given only Enfamil infant formula until one year of age. At one year we gave her a combination of cows milk and Enfamil toddler formula. The formula was mainly used when we were out or traveling due to not being able to get milk or keep it cold. She was given whole milk in the USA, but here when we first arrived I was giving her toddler formula and UHT milk from Germany due to the chinese milk not tasting right to me. We switched to Greenyards milk delivery service and she was being given whole milk until we recently started combining them so she has fewer calories. The hope is to switch to lowfat only within a couple of weeks.

The formula we used all came from the US as we were living there until she was 13 months old. My three and a half month old son is being breastfed almost exclusively. We had a breastfeeding strike and some formula was needed. I used Enfamil newborn formula.

I am a mother of 2.5 years old girl. Living in Beijing for 6 years now. Have been hearing/experiencing many food quality concerns in China is simple reason why next to ‘fresh milk’ – organic (whatever that word means here) I am giving my daughter still in the mornings and evenings formula for her age. Would never do that back home in Europe but here we are playing different game.

She is consuming fresh milk (Green Yard organic milk) with her breakfast/dinner with cereals….drinking…whatever she likes but still as a complementary for her nutrition she’s taking twice per day formula.

1. What have you used for your toddler: breast milk, local milk, imported milk, or toddler formula (imported or local?)….
Fresh milk (Green Yard), with meals and formula (Nestle NAN3 & Wyeth Gold Stage 3) both produced in China….I am working for Nestle and am fully aware of quality control process we have at our Dairy factories in China and fully trust it)

2. What local dairy do you trust, if any? Green Yard organic farm

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