From birth until your child was about 6 months old, your little one relied on either breast milk or formula to grow and develop until solid food was introduced and began getting splattered all over the kitchen. Even with the addition of food, your child still needs the vitamins and minerals in milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet to help him grow up to be “big and strong” like Mom and Dad. Toddlers should drink between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of milk a day, according to Women’s and Children’s Health Network.
Fortified milk contains vitamin D, which is essential to the body because it helps your tot’s bones absorb calcium. It also offers other benefits, such as helping the body’s immune system fight off germs, sending nerve signals through the body and improving muscle movement. If your toddler doesn’t get enough vitamin D, he might have brittle and thin bones, which comes with a condition known as rickets. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that children between the ages of 1 and 13 should get a minimum of 600 IU (International Units) per day. One quart of milk contains 400 IU of vitamin D.
The phrase “milk does the body good” isn’t a lie. Milk also contains calcium, a mineral, to strengthen bones and teeth. It isn’t made by the human body and therefore must be obtained from foods and drinks. Children should consume approximately 500 milligrams of calcium each day, according to Women’s and Children’s Health Network. One glass of milk contains 300 milligrams of calcium and is an excellent way for your child to get all his calcium needs from one source. The body takes calcium from the bones if your child does not consume enough, which can lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis later in life.
Don’t freak out at the mention of fat. Fat consumed in large quantities is unhealthy, but some fat is needed by the body. Toddlers need it for brain growth since they’re growing at such a rapid rate. Up until the age of 2, children should be drinking milk with 4 percent fat, also known as “whole” or vitamin D milk. After your child’s second birthday, you can switch to a lower-fat version if you prefer. One glass of whole milk contains 9.5 grams of fat.
Not everyone can drink cow’s milk due to digestive sensitives, or a family might choose not to drink cow’s milk due to taste or personal beliefs. Don’t worry, your toddler isn’t doomed if he doesn’t consume milk. Focus on getting enough vitamins and minerals from other sources of food or types of milk that are fortified. If taste is the issue, you might also want to consider having him eat and drink other dairy products, since they contain small amounts of milk and are beneficial to the body.