Is it Safe for My Toddler to Drink the Milk in Cuba?

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Before the Great Cuban Milk Mutiny of 2010…

One of the more popular articles on my site is my Cuba Family Travel information. Recently Veronica left a comment on that piece, and when I went to reply to her, I realized I was writing a whole post!

Here is her query:

My husband and I want to bring our 17 month-old son to Cuba this March. He drinks approximately 30 oz of homogenized milk each day. We do not know if it is safe for him to drink the milk in Cuba. Does anyone have suggestions as to what we should do regarding bringing milk to Cuba or buying milk in Cuba? My husband and I do not drink milk and have been to Cuba many times. We can’t remember if the resorts had milk for us to drink.
Thank you for any advice you may have.

Contrary to popular belief, the milk in Cuba (at least the milk they serve in resorts) is Pasteurized, and usually served from Tetra Packs. It is cow’s milk, and it is completely safe to drink. It does taste different, and we think that’s why the cafe con leche tastes so delicious.

But I digress.

We’ve now been to Cuba 4 times with the kids in tow and two of those times had milk-guzzling toddlers.

The first time we went my daughter was on formula, so I brought the powder we were using and mixed it with bottled water. No problems. The next time we went, she was 23-months-old, and long since finished with bottles. I was concerned, so I brought a couple of the Tetra Packs of milk from home. Turns out that was a waste of luggage weight, as she drank the milk there from cups with no issues.

The 3rd time we went to Cuba, our daughter was 4 and Bub was 8mos. He was on solids but still nursing at that point, and I hadn’t yet introduced formula. I did however, bring a couple of Tetra Packs of soy milk with us, as my husband discovered he is lactose intolerant, and though he can last a week without milk, ever since my daughter tasted soy milk, she refuses to drink regular milk unless it is chocolate.

The fourth time we went to Cuba, my son was 19-months-old, and a big milk drinker. Usually around 24oz per day. In this particular area of Cuba (Cayo Santa Maria) the milk was Pasteurized, but it wasn’t homogenized – meaning it separated. At first, Bub drank it no problem. But his consumption started to dwindle, and by day 4 of our week there he outright refused to drink it.

I was pretty concerned, but nothing could convince him to take it. You can revoke my Mother of the Year badge now, as I even tried mixing it with chocolate and sugar. No way. I ended up rationing his sister’s soy milk to give him smaller bottles, and both kids each had loads of ice cream for dessert. A trick that worked a few times was putting yogurt in his bottle (the yogurt at the buffets is quite runny), and he seemed to like the strawberry-ish flavour. One thing I’ll mention about the yogurt at the buffets is to make sure it’s cold and hasn’t been sitting there all morning.

I was delighted on our flight home to see that Sunwing Airlines had cartons of milk on board, and the flight attendant was able to pour him a bottle (she even offered to warm it – Bless!) which he absolutely chugged. I think he even had another one.

The moral of the story? The milk in Cuba is totally safe to drink, and tastes great in coffee, but your baby may not drink it because it tastes different. If you’re concerned, I might try him at home with a follow-up formula, and if he takes that, bring the powder with you. Or you can lug a few Tetra Packs of milk along as insurance.

Have a great trip! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

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2 Responses to Is it Safe for My Toddler to Drink the Milk in Cuba?

  1. adela at #

    My question regarding milk is how readily available is it my daughter will be 13 month and she might still want a bottle during the night is there a way to get milk to the room before bedtime or would i need to go to the lobby to get some

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Adela! Each night on the way back to the room after dinner I would get the bottle filled at the bar and they would usually warm it with the milk steamer! It would be too hot but by the time we got back to the room and the kids in bed it would have cooled enough, or I would put it in the sink with cold water to bring the temperature down. Have a great trip!!

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