Best Milk For Toddlers | Everything You Need To Know About Milk For Toddlers 

Most toddlers go through a phase where it can seem as though all they consume is milk. Milk is not only tasty but also highly nutritious. But at the same time parents have a valid concern about how much milk is too much milk for toddlers. How much milk should a toddler drink? and how to meet calcium requirements without overdoing dairy.

Let us address all these concerns in this post and give you everything you need to know about milk for toddlers. 

Milk for toddlers – What do the recommendations say?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is best to only offer milk and water as beverages for toddlers.

The AAP recommends 2-3 cups (16–24 ounces) of whole milk per day for toddlers 12-24 months old and 2-2.5 cups (16–20 ounces) a day of low-fat or skimmed milk for children 2-5 years old. Children ages 12-24 months old should drink whole milk as their needs for dietary fats for growth and development are more. If you are concerned about your child’s weight being on the higher side though talk with your doctor if 2% milk can be given. (source)

Now that we answered how much milk a toddler should drink in a day?

Let us look at what kind of milk is best for a 2-year-old.

The best milk for toddlers

Depending on your dietary preferences or allergies you can choose from the below options of milk for toddlers.

Cow’s milk (Whole milk for toddlers up to 2 years and skimmed milk, or 2 % milk for older children.)

Goat’s milk

Buffalo milk

Calcium-fortified soy milk

Is there something like too much milk for toddlers?

Milk is a nutritious food for children, but too much milk can interfere with appetite. Toddlers have small stomachs and drinking too much liquid can lead to less consumption of other nutritious solid foods.

Besides drinking too much milk has also been shown to interfere with iron absorption from other foods. Therefore, it is best to stick with the daily milk recommendation of 2 cups a day for toddlers 2-3 years old.

Related reading: How much water should a toddler drink per day?

Dairy-free milk alternatives for toddlers

Milk alternatives contain fewer calories and protein than cow’s milk. However, these days majority of milk alternatives are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, similar to the amounts found in cow’s milk. Some milk alternatives may also be fortified with protein, but, it’s important to read labels before buying.

Unless you follow dietary restrictions that don’t allow the consumption of dairy or your child has milk allergies it is now recommended to avoid plant-based milk for children under 5. 

The best milk for toddlers with milk allergies would be fortified soy milk or pea milk. Consult your doctor to look for adequate supplementation of calcium and Vit D as these vary a lot between plant-based milk varieties.

One also needs to be aware of added sugars in flavored milk and ideally avoid them for children under 2.

All homemade plant milk should ideally not be used as a source of nutrition for toddlers, you can use these in cooking.

Read this plant-based milk fact sheet for more information.

Calcium alternatives to milk for toddlers

Many children have dairy allergies or intolerances, in such a case, parents worry about calcium intake. But there is no need to worry about meeting your dairy-free toddler’s calcium intake, with a little knowledge and thoughtful planning you can easily include calcium-rich alternatives to your toddler’s meal plan.

Even for children who love milk and milk products, it is always beneficial to include a variety of calcium-rich foods in the child’s daily diet instead of over-reliance on dairy.

Here are some calcium-rich foods and ways to include them in your child’s diet.

Millets – finger millets (ragi), pearl millet, teff, barley

Food ideas: porridge, soups, one-pot meals, pancakes, energy bars.

Beans and Lentils – white beans, kidney beans, red lentils, black lentils, chickpeas

Food ideas: soups, one-pot meals, Indian curries, patty, stews.

Soy-based products – soy milk, calcium set tofu, edamame, and tempeh

Food ideas: patties, soy milk in cereal, wraps, tofu-based curries, and stews.

Amaranth – flour, cereal grains, and amaranth leaves

Food ideas: amaranth leaves can be used in vegetarian sides, flour can be used to bake with, and cereal grains can be used to make energy bars for kids.

Mutton

Food ideas: mutton patties, mutton soup, mutton curry.

Eggs

Food ideas: scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, egg omelet, egg rice, egg curries.

Fish – salmon, sardines, Indian salmon (rawas)

Food ideas: fish patties, steamed fish fillets, fish stews, and soups.

Green leafy vegetables and vegetables like Broccoli and Okra

Food ideas: sauteed veggies, roasted broccoli, okra masala, fried/roasted okra.

milk for toddlers

To sum it up,

Milk is a nutritious drink for toddlers, but needs to be consumed as per the recommendations (about 2-3 cups a day) to make space for other nutritious solid foods. As parents, we must get out of the mindset that calcium is only available in milk and learn about other alternative foods that also contain good amounts of calcium. Create a variety of exposures to different foods so that the child learns to eat a varied and balanced diet in the long term.

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About Me

I'm Ophira, mama during the day and blogger by night. I love teaching parents how to raise healthy eaters who not only love the food on their plate but also respect their hunger cues. On this blog you will find all the evidence based information you need to help you feed your toddler, easy toddler friendly recipes and lots of tips and tricks to help your picky eater.

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