The Importance of Milk for Growth
By Erin Rogers, MSN, APRN, CNP, Fisher-Titus Pediatrics
Did you know that January 11 is National Milk Day? Milk is more than just a great sidekick for some Oreos and should be a part of every child’s diet due to its many health benefits.
Dairy milk contains many essential nutrients that can assist with a child’s growth including protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and Vitamins D, B12, A, B2, and B3.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that children between ages 1 and 2 drink 2-3 cups of whole milk per day because it contains dietary fats that help with growth and brain development. When a child turns 2, they should drink 2-2 ½ cups of low-fat or nonfat milk per day.
While there are many plant-based milk alternatives at the grocery store including almond, soy, and oat milks, the AAP recommends that children under the age of 5 avoid these milks unless there is a dietary restriction including an allergy or dairy intolerance. In these situations, soy milk is the preferred alternative.
The National Institute of Health states that children ages 1-3 years of age should consume 700 mg of calcium a day while kids aged 4-8 should have 1,000 mg. But what do you do if you have a child that doesn’t like or doesn’t want to drink milk? Some tips to help increase your child’s interest include drinking milk yourself, serving milk in a special cup or with a special straw, add a small bit of flavoring, or serve at a temperature they like.
The most important thing is to never force or beg your child to drink milk or punish them for not wanting to drink milk. In addition, there are other ways for kids to get the calcium they need. For example, 8 ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt contains 415 mg of calcium, and 1.5 ounces of mozzarella cheese contains 333 mg. Milk can also be added to breakfast cereals, scrambled eggs, or oatmeal.
If you have concerns, always make sure you discuss them with your doctor.
Erin Rogers, MSN, APRN, CNP
Erin Rogers is a nurse practitioner with Fisher-Titus Pediatrics in Norwalk and Bellevue.
Erin earned her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Akron. She is compassionate and patient-focused, consistently striving to provide a superior level of patient care and enjoys improving the lives of her patients while supporting the complex needs of their families. Learn more here.