A 13month old toddler I know does not want to drink milk. At all. Have you faced this dilemma with your child? I must say that I have been blessed with a child who has loved milk from day 1 and could alternate between breast milk and formula like there’s no difference at all. I was relieved as she grew up keeping the same love for cow’s milk (or any white beverage at all!) and since I am dairy intolerant, I sighed a big sigh of relief!
But as we all know that every child is different and so are their preferences. Some kids can live on milk and other’s cringe at the sight of it. While I am talking about this I would like to take 2 myths out of the way.
Your child will grow up just fine even if he/she doesn’t drink milk at all.
Your child will NOT develop dairy intolerance by not drinking milk.
With that off my chest, I would like to advise parent’s to not lose sleep over kids who refuse milk. I have seen that people think of milk as some magical elixir of health that is the ultimate solution to every dietary problem (or even otherwise). It’s not. Just because kids live on milk only during the first 6 months of their life does not mean that it’s the only means to their survival. Also, breast milk or formula milk cannot be compared to cow’s milk and by the end of a child’s 1st year of life, the child is expected to depend on proper food for nutrition rather than just milk. In fact, relying overly or solely on milk can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies.
By now you must be saying “ok Nida, now that you have told us that milk is over rated, what can we do to ensure that our child grows up with strong teeth and bones without drinking milk?”. To this, I will answer that let’s take a look at the nutrition in cow’s milk and then find alternatives to make sure your child gets those nutrients from other food.
Cow’s milk nutritional information:
|Nutrient||Milk (1 cup)
|Low-fat 1%||Reduced 2%||Whole||1% Choc|
|Total Fat (g)||0||2.4||4.8||7.9||2.5|
|Calories from Fat||0||22||43||71||23|
|Saturated Fat (g)||0||1.5||3.1||4.6||1.5|
|Vitamin A (IU)||500||478||464||395||490|
|Vitamin A (%DV)||10%||10%||13%||11%||14%|
|Vitamin B12 (ug)||1.2||1||1.3||1.1||0.8|
|Vitamin B12 (DV)||20%||17%||22%||18%||13%|
|Vitamin C (mg)||0||0||1||0||2.2|
|Vitamin C (%DV)||0%||0%||2%||0%||4%|
|Vitamin D (IU)||115||117||120||124||108|
|Vitamin D (DV)||29%||30%||30%||31%||27%|
|Magnesium (% DV)||7%||7%||7%||6%||8%|
This nutrient value chart was taken from the Dairy Council of California’s website: https://www.healthyeating.org/Milk-Dairy/Nutrients-in-Milk-Cheese-Yogurt/Nutrients-in-Milk
One look at this and we can say that in a child not drinking milk, we would be afraid of them not getting enough calories, protein, fat, and calcium.
Let’s tackle them one at a time:
- Calories – the calories that your child get’s from milk can easily be replaced by other foods that he likes. If your child eats normally (3 meals + 2 snacks) then this shouldn’t even be a problem. I always say parents need to remember that no child will starve himself. If you think your child does not eat enough, keep a food diary for them and observe how much they are eating over a week. Some children eat sparingly some days and make up for it later.
- Protein – Milk is not the only source of protein, everyone knows that. So yogurt, seafood, white meat, eggs, cheese, peanut butter (2 tbsps of peanut butter has the same amount of protein as in a cup of milk), are all massive sources of protein and some even have more protein than a cup of milk.
- Fat – Young children need fat for the development of their brains. Avocado, whole eggs, nut butter, butter, olive or coconut oil, oily fish and whole milk yogurt are excellent sources.
- Calcium – Yogurt, eggs, beans, almonds ( or almond butter), dark green leafy vegetables, salmon, oranges, fig and sesame seeds (or sesame seed butter) are good alternatives to milk for calcium. You can also find calcium fortified cereals and juices.
I hope I have put a few of your fears to rest. Next, I am going to talk about how to sneak in these nutrients in our everyday food so that your milk non-drinker still gets all the nourishment she needs!!
Did you have any milk wars with your kids? How did you tackle them? I would love to hear your stories here!