(under 5 years old..)
MILK FOR TODDLERS...
How much fat?
- Give full cream milk to children between 1 and 2 years of age. Whole milk has 4% fat.
- Children over 2 years of age do not need full cream milk. Choose reduced fat milk. Low fat milk has 1 to 2% fat.
- Don't give skim milk ('99.9% fat free') to children under 5 years old.
How much milk?
- 600 mls of milk (about 2 ½ cups) a day is plenty. It is only one part of what toddlers eat and drink and other foods are needed too.
- It is important that children do not drink so much milk that they won't eat other foods as this is a common cause of health problems (such as iron deficiency anaemia) in toddlers.
- Milk has a lot of calcium which is important for growing bones and teeth.
- Calcium is more easily taken into the body from milk than from vegetable foods.
- Milk also provides good protein.
- Whole milk gives fat for energy and growth.
- Milk provides some vitamins, especially Vitamin A (in the milk fat) and B group Vitamins.
- Most (although not all) toddlers like milk and dairy foods.
- Children under 5 years need about 700 mg of calcium per day.
- Calcium cannot be made by the body so the dairy foods (milk, cheese etc) that children eat and drink every day are important.
- Most children under 5 get 70% of their calcium from cows milk, 20% from milk products such as cheese, yoghurt, custard, and 10% from breakfast cereals.
- Long life milk and UHT milk have the same food values for children as ordinary milk, they have just been treated differently so they last longer.
- They are just as good for children.
- They should be used in the same way as ordinary milk, ie full cream milk is best for children under 2 years of age.
- Once the carton of "long life" milk is opened it is no longer long life, it "goes off" at the same rate as ordinary milk (and needs to be kept in the refrigerator).
Untreated cows' milk
- Cows' milk that comes straight from the farm and is not treated at a milk factory should be boiled for toddlers.
- Milk that is sold in shops and has been treated has been both pasteurised and homogenised. This means it has been heated to kill any germs that could cause illnesses (such as tuberculosis) and the fat has been thoroughly mixed in so it doesn’t rise to the top.
- It is safest for young children to drink milk that has been treated in both these ways.
- If you want or need to give milk straight from the cow, it needs to be brought to the boil (with care, as it easily boils over), then stirred well as it cools to mix in the fat.
Milk and mucous
- Some people think that cows' milk produces mucous and that they should not give it to their children when they have a cold.
- Research shows that drinking milk does not increase mucous.
- Milk has a creamy feel and tends to leave a soft, sticky coating in the mouth and throat. This is not mucous and usually only lasts a short while and does no harm.
- It is important that children continue to have healthy diets when they have a cold.
- If your children do not want to drink milk when they have a cold try other dairy foods like yoghurt or cheese or flavoured milk iceblocks and the other suggestions in this topic.
- Full fat calcium fortified soy beverages are suitable for use after 1 year of age as part of a mixed diet.
- If a child is eating good amounts of meat and other protein rich foods, but does not eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, it may be good to continue soy infant formula rather than give other soy drinks.
- Other soy drinks that do not have calcium added are not best for toddlers.
- Rice milk is a liquid made from rice, and therefore is a perfectly good food, the same as rice itself, as part of a mixed diet. However it is not really a subsitiute for breastmilk or cows' milk for young children.
- In the form available in supermarkets, calcium has been added, which is good, but the protein level is much lower than in cows' milk. It is also low in fat which is not advisable for under twos.
- Toddlers could have an occasional drink of rice milk as long as it doesn't take the place of other milks or milk foods in their diet.
- For older children and adults who want to drink it, it could be a valuable, low fat and lactose-free source of calcium.
- Goats' milk is very similar to cows' milk, so it can be given after 12 months.
- It is very important that goats' milk is pasteurised or boiled, though, as it can contain germs that could make a young child ill.
- Goats' milk has even less of some vitamins than plain cows' milk, particularly folic acid (folate). To help with this, make sure your child has a good range of foods, especially vegetables, fruit and cereals, some of which have folate added.
- For very fussy eaters, a folic acid supplement may be worthwhile if they are drinking only goats' milk.
- Coconut milk is not really a milk as such and doesn't provide the same nourishment as normal milks.
- It contains a lot of fat and provides little else of value to the diet.
- Although it is fine to give children occasional foods (such as Asian dishes) containing coconut milk, it is not ideal as an infant food and certainly cannot be used to replace other milks.
Foods that contain calcium
- A 250ml glass of whole cows' milk contains about 165 calories, 9.5 gm fat , 8 gm of protein and 305 mg calcium. Low-fat milks contain at least as much calcium as whole cows' milk.
- Toddlers can get their calcium from drinking milk and/or eating foods that contain calcium.
Other foods that contain calcium
- Food / Amount of Calcium
- Cheddar cheese - 20 gm /130 mg calcium
- Cottage cheese - 20 gm / only 14 mg calcium
- Cream cheese spread - 24 gm / 67 mg calcium
- Fruit yoghurt - 1 X 200 gm tub / 250 mg calcium
- Natural yoghurt - 1 X 200 gm tub / 390 mg calcium
- Baked beans - ½ cup / 40 mg calcium
- Canned sardines (with bones) - 60g (½) tin / 200mg calcium
- Canned salmon (with bones) - 50g (¼ cup) / 100 mg calcium
- Broccoli and sesame seeds / Smaller but useful amounts of calcium.
Calcium enriched milks
From time to time milks are put on the market where the milk has been enriched eg with extra calcium. If children are getting the calcium requirements listed above, there is no need for them to have milk that has extra calcium in it. It is important that children under 2 have full cream milk and not low fat milk.
What parents can do
- Remember milk and other dairy foods are most important for calcium and contain other food needs as well.
- Do not give too much fruit juice, etc as it may take the place of milk.
- For children who don't like to drink milk, encourage them to eat breakfast cereals with milk, or try giving cereal and milk during the day as a snack.
- Choose desserts that are made from milk, such as puddings, custards, yoghurt etc.
- Try casseroles, pasta and rice with sauces made with milk and add melted cheese.
- Sprinkle grated cheese on vegetables, pizza and sandwiches.
- Give your toddler tinned fish (eg salmon, sardines), mashed with bones.
Children who cannot eat dairy foods
- Soy milk can be used for drinking and cooking (ie in sauces and custards).
- Soy yoghurts are now available.
- However soy products do not have much calcium unless it has been added. Check what it says on the packet. To take the place of cows' milk there should be at least 100 mg of calcium per 100 mls soy milk.
- Use special soy toddler formula until the age of 2 years.
- Tofu can be a good source of calcium as calcium is used in making it.
Children who cannot eat dairy or soy
- There is some calcium in most foods, especially tinned fish, green vegetables, peas and beans and cereals.
- However it can be difficult to get enough calcium without using some milk foods.
- Calcium tablets are easy to get, and can be crushed and added to other foods - check your child's needs with your doctor or a dietician.