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The first few years of a child’s life are the most sensitive because they set the foundation for their lifelong health. For this reason, parents must pay extra attention to things like their toddlers’ diets. For example, you should know if you should give a toddler milk before breakfast.
You shouldn’t give a toddler milk before breakfast. The best time to give your toddler milk is while they’re eating breakfast. Serving them milk before breakfast will reduce the amount of solid food they take, affecting the nutrients they receive from breakfast.
Keep reading to learn more about when to give your toddler their milk, how much milk to give your toddler, and why your toddler needs milk.
Why Should You Not Give Your Toddler Milk Before Breakfast?
Toddlers need the beneficial nutrients found in milk but also other nutrients that aren’t present in milk.
If you give your toddler a glass of milk before breakfast, there is a high chance that it will fill their stomach and ruin breakfast for them. A glass of milk is very filling and will take up the space for breakfast, and they’ll end up eating fewer nutrients than their body needs.
When Should You Give Your Toddler Milk?
The best time to give your toddler milk is in the morning, alongside their breakfast. At this time, a toddler is still hungry and has a variety of food to choose from.
A toddler who is used to taking milk at virtually any time of the day may prefer milk over solids, and milk may need to be limited while the toddler adapts to solid foods.
How Much Milk You Should Give Your Toddler
While milk and other liquid foods are all that babies can take into their bodies for about the first six months of their life, after some time, they start ingesting solid food as well. At this time, there is a need to balance the quantity of milk and solid food they eat.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends the following milk rations for children between the ages of 1 and 5 (source).
- Children between 12 and 14 months should consume 16–24 ounces daily.
- Children between 2 and 5 years should consume 16–20 ounces of low-fat or skim milk daily (source).
What Type of Milk Should You Feed Your Toddler?
While it is important for you to ration the amount of milk your toddler consumes, you must also take note of the type of milk you buy to feed them. There are two different classes of milk sold in stores based on the fat percentage content.
These classes are:
- Full-fat milk or whole dairy milk
- Low-fat or skim dairy milk
The best kind of milk to feed a toddler (besides mother’s milk) is plain, full-fat, pasteurized cow milk. This whole milk is recommended for children up until they are 2 years old (source). Milk is essential because toddlers need the extra fat to provide for their brain development (source).
Cow milk has fat content retained after processing, so it is usually slightly thick. In some cases, medical practitioners may advise you to switch to low-fat or skim milk due to a family history that could put the toddler at risk of heart disease or obesity. Only change to low-fat or skim milk per the direction of your pediatrician for a toddler under 2 years old.
Here’s a really great video from a pediatrician on transitioning your toddler to cow’s milk:
Why Does Your Toddler Need Milk?
Every store has a plethora of drinks and juices for toddlers, all of which advertise the nutrients they can offer your kids. Parents are made to understand early enough the importance of infant formula or breast milk because it is the only source of nutrients for a child 1 to 6 months old.
Milk helps to contribute to a nutritious diet and a toddler’s general growth and development once solids are introduced.
Here are a few more reasons why your toddler needs milk:
- Aids heart and bone health.
- Helps kids stay hydrated.
- Improves the immune system.
- Provides lots of nutrients and minerals.
- Healthy dentition.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, water, and milk are the two most beneficial drinks for toddlers (source).
The deficiency of Vitamin D, one of the major vitamins found in milk, results in a condition called Rickets.
This is especially common in little children between the ages of 6 and 36 months because they’re experiencing rapid growth. You can prevent this by providing your toddler with adequate milk per the American Association of Pediatrics (source).
Milk is a common part of a toddler’s diet and is perfectly fine in the appropriate amounts per age. It is just one part of a wholesome diet once solids are introduced, so make sure as your child grows, he or she gets other nutrients as appropriate and in addition to their milk.
Teresa is a Registered Nurse in the State of Texas and the mother of two. Opinions and insights on childcare are based on professional knowledge, academic research, and personal experience.
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