Most people know that milk is important for a growing body, but there are times in your child’s life when they can get too much and other times when they don’t get enough. Too much milk usually occurs when children are very young, especially when they transition from a mostly liquid diet (formula or breastmilk) to a solid diet. It is very common for children to want to stick to a liquid diet of whole milk even though they should be eating table foods. Milk is easily portable, parents usually allow kids to continue to play while they drink milk from a sippy cup. Kids love this because they don’t have to give up their favorite activities to stop and eat and they can still fill their bellies. Unfortunately, all that milk is also ruining your child’s appetite – too much milk during the day is a very common cause of “picky eating”. Children 2 to 6 years old only need 2 cups of dairy products a day and that includes fluid milk, yogurt and cheese.
As often as young children drink too much milk, teens and pre-teens don’t get enough dairy. Bone growth and strengthening is still occurring throughout adolescence and adulthood (until about age 30). Therefore, adequate calcium and vitamin D consumption is still very important for bone health during your child’s teenage years. Adolescents and pre-teens need 3 cups of dairy everyday and most don’t get even close to that.
2 cups of dairy looks like this:
- 1/4 cup of milk at breakfast
- 1/2 cup of yogurt at snack
- 1 slice of cheese at lunch
- 1/2 cup of milk at dinner
3 cups of dairy a day looks like this:
- 1/2 cup of milk with cereal
- 1/2 cup calcium fortified juice at breakfast
- 4 oz. of yogurt at lunch
- String cheese for after school snack
- 1 cup of milk at dinner