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All parents want that their babies to be healthy and strong. As soon as you have your baby in your arms, you start thinking about different nutritious foods for him. Of course, for the first six months you will be giving him breastmilk, but then what? This is a common question that all new moms ask. Along with other foods, milk should also form a part of their diet. You know giving milk to your baby is important, but do you know why all doctors and elders stress on giving milk to toddlers? Well, if you don’t know then read this article to understand why milk is important for toddlers.
Importance of Milk for Toddlers
Your mother and grandmother must have told you how they made you drink milk every morning when you were a child. You must have made faces and refused to drink it, but somehow they got you to empty that big glass of milk every single day for your own good. Milk is important for a baby’s development this is why you should be giving milk to your toddler every day. It has other benefits too, find out what they are.
1. Strong Bones
Milk is an essential source of calcium and fats which are important nutrients for a growing toddler. Calcium helps in the growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. In addition, calcium molecules are also used to signal muscle contraction and nerve stimulation.
2. Prevents Bone Disorders
In addition to calcium, milk contains trace amounts of Vitamin D too. This nutrient strengthens the bones and prevents bone disorders, such as osteomalacia and rickets.
3. Healthy Weight Maintenance
Milk is a source of high-quality protein. The dairy protein even contains amino acids used in muscle synthesis. The satiating effect of protein even helps prevent over-eating. Consumption of a healthy amount of dairy products can also help in maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have linked continued consumption of dairy to the prevention of obesity in adolescence.
How Much Milk Should Your Toddler Drink
Children should consume formula milk or breastmilk until they turn a year old. After that, you can start off with one cup of milk. This can be increased to two cups once they are two-years-old. Avoid giving them more as they would feel full and not eat other food.
What Kind of Milk Is Right for Your Toddler
With all the new information coming every other day on the internet about food and milk, it is hard to judge which information to trust. However, when choosing milk for your toddler, here is what you should consider.
1. Start whole-fat milk if
- Your child is 1 year old and just shifting to milk.
- Your child is below healthy weight or of normal weight.
2. Start low-fat milk if
- Your child has turned 2.
- If your child has put on excessive weight.
- If your child is experiencing constipation (it could be a result of whole fat milk or simply, too much milk).
Should You Be Concerned If Your Toddler Hates Drinking Milk
There is no need to stress yourself if your baby is refusing to drink milk. Just like adults, toddlers too have their unique taste. While milk certainly is a great source of calcium, vitamin D and fats, these can be found in other foods too. So introduce other food items but keep trying to give them milk in different ways.
What to Do If Your Toddler Refuses to Drink Milk
If your toddler is refusing to drink milk, here are a few ways you can try to get him to gulp down that glass of nutritious milk.
Slow the Transition
A good way to prevent your child from going off milk is to introduce it in small amounts. If you are transitioning from breastmilk or formula, try mixing the breastmilk or formula with milk for at least first two weeks, but don’t mix too much.
Enhance the taste
Take a moment to look back on your own childhood. Were you the greatest fan of plain, warm milk with a bit of sugar in it? May be you were, may be not! Ask your parents, how they got you to drink milk. If your baby is refusing to drink plain milk, consider different options, like chocolate milk or a nice warm cup of cocoa. Chocolate will enhance the taste of milk, and your little one won’t refuse to drink it.
If your baby is refusing to drink milk, try to cultivate the taste. Try easing him into it by offering only half a glass or even less initially. Start small and then in a few weeks time, increase the amount to a glassful.
Shake it Up
If your baby is stubborn and refrains from drinking milk, then it’s time you add flavour to it and make it more interesting. Add fruits to the milk. A colourful milkshake is nothing like boring plain milk and you will see that in a matter of minutes your little one will drink it.
Foods With Dairy
There are lots of other dairy products that can be introduced too. There is butter, paneer, cheese and ghee. These can be introduced too, but you must consult a paediatrician before giving them to your child. However, nothing can replace milk.
Giving cereal with milk to a child meets his calcium requirements. And eating cereal in the morning is a great way to start a day. If your fussy child is not drinking milk, mix in with cereal and fruits and he will quickly finish it.
How to Ensure a Child Gets Enough Calcium if He Doesn’t Drink Milk
Although milk is a major source of calcium, there are other sources of calcium too. A toddler’s daily calcium needs could be addressed through other types of food as well. However, first, you should know how much calcium a toddler needs. Then, you can consider giving them alternatives to dairy products to meet their calcium requirements.
1. How Much Calcium Does a Toddler Need
The calcium intake of a child between the ages of 1 and 5 should be 800mg per day.
2. Milk and Dairy Products Alternatives
There are several products available that could fulfil your child’s calcium needs. Conditions like lactose intolerance make it imperative to find an alternative to milk for toddlers. Below are some alternatives that in addition to calcium have ingredients that would benefit children.
- Orange Juice: It contains Vitamin C which helps boost immunity.
- Dark Leafy Greens: It contains iron which helps prevent anaemia in children.
- Soy: It contains fibre, which helps in digestion.
- Fish: It contains omega 3 fatty acids, which aid in brain development.
- Enriched Bread: It contains carbohydrates, which provide kids with the energy they need.
Milk is not a necessity to ensure proper intake of calcium, but it remains that there is no single food with levels of calcium similar to milk. So, make sure you give your toddler a glass of milk every day.