The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends most toddlers switching from whole-fat milk to low-fat at age two, due to the amount of fat toddlers are likely receiving from other foods they are now able to eat.
This is often easier said than done if your toddler does not like the taste of low-fat milk, especially after drinking whole milk for so long. However, by transitioning slowly and adding it to her favorite foods, your toddler can learn to enjoy low-fat milk just as much as whole.
Mixing Whole Milk With Low-Fat Milk
Parents can ease the transition to low-fat milk by adding a small amount to their child’s regular serving of whole milk. Continue to add more low-fat milk and less whole milk gradually until your child is only drinking low-fat milk. The amount of time the transition takes will depend on how receptive your toddler is to the changes.
Add Low-Fat Milk to Favorite Foods
Try using low-fat milk to make your child’s oatmeal or other hot cereal, or pour it into his favorite bowl of cold cereal. You can also make healthful fruit milkshakes, blending low-fat milk with your child’s favorite fruits. Your child will hardly notice the taste of the milk. For an occasional treat or special occasion, serve low-fat milk with a favorite sweet such as cookies or a brownie.
Alternatives to Low-Fat Milk
If it continues to be a struggle to get your toddler to drink low-fat milk, make sure that she is getting the calcium she needs from other sources in the meantime. Toddlers need at least 700 mg of calcium a day.
Low-fat cheeses and yogurt are both excellent sources of calcium, as well as fruits and vegetables such as oranges and spinach. You may also want to try soy milk fortified with extra calcium, to see if she prefers the taste.
Speak With Your Pediatrician
The best option if you are having an especially difficult time getting your child to drink low-fat milk is to speak to your pediatrician about it. Depending on your child’s physical development and overall diet, you may not have to make the switch to low-fat milk if he is not ready.
Your child might also just be in an anti-milk phase. Your pediatrician can steer you in the direction that is best for your toddler.