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Milk Alternatives for Toddlers Who Don't Drink Milk

Updated on January 8, 2016
Max Dalton profile image

Max holds a B.S. in Mass Communications from SIU and an M.A. in Communication from U of I and is pursuing an MBA from Webster University.


Toddlers can be naturally picky about taste. However, what happens when they eschew milk, which most doctors recommend for toddlers over the age of 1? Milk contains numerous vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D and calcium, and also provides a large bulk of daily protein needs. Toddlers can avoid milk or simply not tolerate it for a number of reasons. These reasons include: allergies, lactose intolerance and a simple dislike for the taste. So, how do you get a toddler to consume protein, Vitamin D and calcium from sources other than milk? Stop and breathe for a moment because I'm going to tell you that in many countries milk isn't even on the menu at all. These aren't third-world countries either. These are countries that promote vegetarian lifestyles or diets rich with other food sources such as soy, greens and broccoli, and live quite well doing it. The first thing you need to do is talk to your child's pediatrician about the diet requirements for your child. This should always be done at regular checkups of if you notice your child losing weight between appointments. After that, tweak the diet accordingly and introduce more of the options listed below.

Not everyone's toddler drinks milk this easily.
Not everyone's toddler drinks milk this easily. | Source


Many children may hate milk, but they love yogurt. It's perfectly acceptable to give a child yogurt for breakfast and then one for a snack later in the day. Many yogurts contain Vitamin D and calcium, but check the nutritional information on the package to find one that meets your child's needs. Yogurt tubes often have only five to 15 percent of daily calcium requirements, while other brands specifically made for small children such as Yo-Baby's Yo Toddler may pack up to 25 percent of calcium per serving.

Cheese and Cottage Cheese

Children notoriously like cheese. Try a slice of American cheese or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with dinner. Milk, especially whole milk recommended for 1 year olds, contains up to 7 grams of fat per serving. When purchasing cheese, look for American slices that aren't fat free and for cottage cheese with higher fat percentages. Also check the nutritional facts on American cheese slices for nutrients; some brands supply Vitamin D while others don't.


Many vegetables may be able to fill in the calcium gaps. Broccoli is especially high in the mineral. Add a bit of cheese for taste and your toddler can have a powerful calcium-filled snack.

Orange Juice

Surprise. Oranges naturally have a bit of calcium. However, if you purchase a Vitamin D and calcium fortified version, you'll be packing in the same amount (cup for cup) that you would for a glass of milk. Acidic juices may be hard on toddler teeth, so many parents water the orange juice down or forgo it entirely. Ask your pediatrician about juice consumption.

Soy Milk

Many soy milk brands on the market provide just as much calcium and Vitamin D as low-fat milk. Soy milk consistently provides a bit less fat than whole milk, but may be a nice substitute for a glass every day or two. Make sure to mention soy milk consumption to your pediatrician or ask her advice before offering it to your child to make sure that it's a good fit for your toddler's age and needs.

Lactose-Free Milk

Many children that have diarrhea or throw up after consuming milk are not actually allergic. Allergies are mostly identified with rashes or hives and possible life-threatening symptoms. If your child is experiencing diarrhea after milk, he's likely lactose intolerant. Many parents don't believe in lactose intolerance because their children consume both yogurt and cheese with no problem. However, many yogurts and cheeses lose lactose during processing, so they're able to be consumed by lactose intolerant individuals. Lactose intolerance can be outgrown or something that can stick around for life, and it's also often genetic. Fortunately, many manufacturers have milks that are comparable to whole milk regarding nutrients and fat content. Check your dairy aisle in the soy milk section or around the chocolate milk and half-and-half sections, as lactose-free milk is usually not with the regular milk.

Fortified Foods

So, you have a cereal nut on your hands because he wants to consume three bowls of Cheerios or the new box of cartoon crunchies. Check the box for calcium and vitamin information, and for sugar content. Many cereals may be able to supplement nutrient holes.


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    • tamron profile image

      tamron 6 years ago

      I am a firm believer in breast milk. The biggest mistake a lot of moms make is they choose to use formula instead of breast milk. They give toddler koolaid instead of all natural juice. Very early on a child should be introduced to fresh vegetables that can be blended in a blender to the consistency appropriate to there age. I mean have you ever tasted baby food no wonder why they won't eat it. I don't blame them!

      Great article! Vote up & Ping Ya

    • Max Dalton profile image

      Max Dalton 6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks for the comment, Kelleye. Before I became a parent I never considered that a child wouldn't drink milk, but it was one of the many things that can go wrong in parenthood, lol.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      Great hub! We also have a boy who didn't like reg milk. We used all sorts of veggies, almond milk, and yogurt to get his calcium etc. Thanks

    • Max Dalton profile image

      Max Dalton 6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      My wife and I have a little girl and I can write a book on the problems we went through with her. She had a wealth of eating problems, and drinking milk was just one of them, lol.

    • thebookmom profile image

      thebookmom 6 years ago from Nebraska

      Great Hub. I was especially excited to hear about veggies and orange juice helping my kiddo who hates milk get her calcium. Thanks for writing!