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My daughter was big on drinking milk, but now she only drinks juice and water. Is this normal? She eats cheese and plenty of veggies and she is only one year old. I don't have any problems with her drinking water either like most kids so I'm happy about that, just worried about the milk thing. Her doctor did say its normal but I just want to make sure that I am not alone on this. I still have the new mom jitters. Yes after a year lol. Help.

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    You don't mention how young the child is. If children drink milk it should be unskimmed "full fat" milk, but it's not a problem if they don't like it. Children under five should probably be getting vitamin supplement (make sure these are child versions) so milk isn't supplying anything they can't get elsewhere. Make sure that juice is heavily diluted - one part juice to ten parts water - and make sure it's not in bottles or slow-flow cups. This is important for tooth health. – DanBeale Dec 15 '14 at 22:01
  • In case it's not clear, slow-flow cups are commonly called sippy cups in the US. – Joe Dec 15 '14 at 22:36
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    @DanBeale "she is only one year old" – Shauna Dec 16 '14 at 15:18
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Kids have all sorts of eating habits; any one particular difference isn't at all something to be concerned about. My oldest (3) drinks all the milk he can find, my younger (21 mo) doesn't drink as much of anything and relatively little milk.

The one reason milk is something to think about is that milk is the primary source of calcium and vitamin D for some children, and is a significant fat source for many as well (helping to both increase calories and to dissolve fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin D). Additionally, children who were primarily breast or formula fed throughout their first year may find it difficult to eat sufficient food early on after one (as compared to children who started eating solids early on).

As such, just make sure your daughter eats plenty of calories, has some fat with most meals, has a calcium source such as dark leafy greens, fortified orange juice, beans, or cereals, and has enough vitamin D (several minutes' exposure to sunlight is a major way to get this, plus vitamins and fortified cereals). Odds are she eats enough to keep herself growing and active (most kids do, even if it seems they're not); as long as you keep a good selection of nutritious food available she'll do fine.

We don't have juice most of the time, so the fortified OJ is out, but fortunately our youngest loves meats and fish (lots of fat soluble vitamins there!), cereals, and breads, as well as broccoli and beans. He also loves to eat full-fat or 2% yogurt, particularly greek yogurt (higher in protein!), and he gobbles up eggs like there's no tomorrow; so he'll get his vitamins and calcium one way or the other.

  • Unless you're buying milk in opaque containers, your milk may not have as much vitamins as advertised due to the light oxidization effect from the retailer's fluorescent lighting. If you can see the milk through the container, it has likely had some vitamin degradation. – user11394 Dec 18 '14 at 15:21
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It's not uncommon, especially if your heritage includes anything other northwestern European. If you have any lineage from any of the cultures of the world that weren't historically herders, then there is a chance that her body will stop producing lactase -- the enzyme required to properly digest milk -- and she is becoming lactose intolerant. About 65% of the global population stops or greatly reduces lactase production after the first year of life (yep, most of the world is lactose intolerant to some degree). Milk is an unnecessary food in the sense that the nutrients found in it can be found in equal or greater quantities elsewhere.

Her lack of drinking it may be her naturally finding it uncomfortable to consume (digestive upset). Cheese is well tolerated, because the lactose is generally consumed in the process of making it (that's why block cheese has no carbohydrates).

So, yes, your doctor is right in that it's a non-issue. If you're concerned over it, simply make sure she has access to and eats plenty of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sources of protein and fat to obtain the nutrients that she would be getting from milk if she were drinking it. Also, the cheese actually has a higher amount of calcium per serving than milk, so you're really not missing out on anything except a little extra (and arguably unnecessary) sugar. For calcium, specifically, there are dozens of sources, several with more calcium than milk per serving.

  • Downvoters care to explain? – Shauna Dec 16 '14 at 14:08
  • I like this answer. It addresses some misconceptions about dairy, and agrees with the poster's doctor. Also, the WIC program in the US even recommends switching the whole family, children included, to skim or 1% milk, which is not vitamin D fortified or high in fat. They usually have posters in office suggesting other dairy products than just milk. This program's sole purpose is to ensure the health and nutrition of women, infants , and children (thus the name). – user11394 Dec 18 '14 at 15:30
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I will post a different opinion.

Children need calcium and Vit.D, and milk is a rich source of both (the Vit.D is added). Kids between 1 and 2 years old should have whole milk to help provide the dietary fats they need for normal growth and brain development. If a child that young stopped drinking milk, it would concern me a bit, because it's harder to get calcium in the recommended quantities otherwise. Cheese is helpful, but it constipates a lot of people. Kids don't like spinach, kale, etc.

The body uses bone tissue as a reservoir for and source of calcium. The body must maintain constant concentrations of calcium in blood, muscle, and intercellular fluids. If there is inadequate calcium in the diet, the bones will provide the calcium, and building strong bones might be a problem, especially for females, who tend to have less bone mass than males. The result can be osteoporosis in older women. Calcium and exercise when bones are actively growing and storing calcium is important.

Here's how much calcium and vitamin D you need every day, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Calcium

Children 1-3 years old: 700 milligrams (mg)
Children 4-8 years old: 1,000 mg
Children 9-18 years old: 1,300 mg
Adults 19-50: 1,000 mg
Women 51 to 70: 1,200 mg
Men 51 to 70: 1,000 mg

Vitamin D

Age 1-70: 600 IU Age 71 and older: 800 IU

If there is a concern about lactose intolerance, low-lactose and lactose-free dairy products are available, as are lactase drops that can be added to dairy products. Hard, aged cheeses (such as cheddar) are lower in lactose, and yogurts that contain active cultures are easier to digest and much less likely to cause lactose problems. Perhaps you can add regular yogurt to her diet. A bioyogurt might be an even better choice, seeing all that has been learned about establishing a good gut flora recently.

From the second reference, you may see how much cheese and/or other sources are needed to replace 8 ounces of milk. It's not that easy. It's fine if you can do it, but I wanted to offer another side of this issue.

Calcium Factsheet
Calcium and Your Child

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    Your "kids don't like..." statement is an over-generalization. I know many kids who love those very foods. It largely depends on what they're exposed to at an early age, and how you give it to the child (an easy way to get a child to eat greens is to make a smoothie, for example). In my experience, many adults are surprised at what children will eat when they're exposed to it enough. – Shauna Dec 16 '14 at 14:20
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    I think this is a good idea to keep in mind (and intended roughly the same in my less detailed answer), but I also think it's easy as a parent to over-focus on some of this. It's important to not keep on top of exactly what and how much your child eats to the point that you create bad eating habits (such as 'clean your plate'), or you cause them to not enjoy (for example) some vegetables because you force a different vegetable they don't like. Being aware of calcium and vitamin D are important - but I would definitely not force milk. – Joe Dec 16 '14 at 16:22
  • @Joe - I agree with most of what you've said. Perhaps I overstated, or my delivery is off. I don't recommend fighting with children over food (never have); but I wouldn't just let it go, either. Yoghurt!!! Yum! – anongoodnurse Dec 16 '14 at 21:40
  • @Shauna - yes, it is an overgeneralization, you're correct. Most kids are less interested in eating what is good for them than eating what tastes good. – anongoodnurse Dec 16 '14 at 21:41
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    I was looking through the links and saw that a 6 ounce class of calcium fortified orange juice has almost as much calcium as 8 ounces of whole milk. Many brands of calcium-fortified OJ are ALSO vitamin D fortified. I just thought it was worth noting. (I'm planning on getting such OJ for myself, now, since I'm not a milk drinker but I need a higher calcium and D intake and I'm tired of vitamins.) – user11394 Dec 20 '14 at 0:51
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You could always try to get some fresh milk. This may require an expedition into local farms if you are not familiar with the farming scene, but fresh cow or goat milk straight from the udder is always a welcome treat. The cream usually rises immediately, so it gets collected right away, but then you just dip a cup in the bucket and get some pure white goodness. Just don’t dip twice and make sure the cup is sterile.

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    While one of my kids would love this, another (who's lactose intolerant and grew to associate the taste of milk with stomach pain) would really, really not, and it would in fact be bad for her. This may or may not be the case for OP's child, though. – Acire Dec 18 '14 at 15:01
  • It may not be possible to get raw milk unless you personally befriend a farmer (and even then, it may be sketchy), depending on where you live. In the US, for example, many states outlaw the sale of raw milk for human consumption. In some places, even private sales (such as herd shares) are at risk. The USDA and state equivalents have been known to completely shut down a farm (and even ruin already-harvested stock) over the matter. So make sure to research the laws where you live if you want to try this route. – Shauna Dec 18 '14 at 20:42

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