Does My Child Need To Drink Milk?

How Much Milk Does He Drink?

With my first child I noticed that at every doctor's appointment after the age of one the above question was asked. Since I never introduced milk into his diet the next question was always, "Do you do soy or rice milk instead?" followed by "How much?" or "Does he get dairy products somewhere?"

He was not allergic to milk, but since he nursed till he was two I felt no need to introduce the milk of another animal into his diet when what he was getting from me was, I felt, superior. And honestly, even if he had weaned earlier I wouldn't have introduced milk because I have always believed it is the perfect food for baby cows, not humans.

Oddly enough, this simple question, "How much milk does your child drink" is so standard in doctors offices that parents who choose for some reason not to include dairy in the diet of their children are treated as at least weird, or worse, neglectful.

The Answer

The answer to the above question is a resounding "NO". A child can be perfectly healthy and even have superior health without the presence of dairy in their diet. You do however, as a parent have to work to insure that your child gets the nutrients that they need from other food sources.

Here is an abstract from Pediatrics on a recent article showing that milk consumption does not in fact strengthen bones more so than other sources or even exercise. -

Here is another website with common milk myths:

I even found a video on a network news station that supports this idea! Notice how the Pediatrician still refuses to change her advise despite the research showing that dairy does not increase the health of bones!

Helpful Tips on a Healthy Diet Without Dairy

I wanted to include this info from a LaLecheLeague leader that I know. She has some great tips on replacing dairy products with foods high in nutritional value.

1. Babies who drink cow's milk should be on whole milk until they are 3 years old.

2. Cow's milk is for baby cows.

3. Any human can live a very healthy life without cow's milk products (many people can not digest it or are allergic to it)

4. Cow's milk provides calcium (though not extremely absorb able) also protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The vitamins A & D are added to the milk. There is no iron in cow's milk or much of the
water soluble vitamins left after pasteurization.

5. Humans need lots of
leafy greens, calciferous veggies (broccoli), beans, legumes (lentils, peanuts), tree nuts, fruit (anything that falls off a bush or tree including tomatoes, zucchini, apples, etc) and plenty of water. Some humans add fish, poultry and other meats. Eggs are another great source of protein. Grains in their whole form are a good source of many vitamins, minerals and nutrients. (Processed grains, such as white flour are not a good source of nutrition) All the nutrients a human needs is supplied by eating a variety of these items in as close to their natural states as possible.

6. While some people do not do well on cow's milk, some can digest the higher fat foods such as butter. And some folks handle yogurt because of the enzymes (best if no sugar added type).

7. Here are some examples of meals a child might eat without milk or
dairy products: Breakfast: scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit (water to drink) Snack: popcorn or crackers with peanut butter Lunch: soup (any kind--possibly with a meat) Snack: fruit or veggie sticks Dinner: meat or some kind or pasta dish with soy cheese, cooked/steamed broccoli -- or --baked red or white potato with butter and soy cheese with a green veggie

8. Whole Foods has a huge assortment of dairy free convenience foods (frozen pizza, etc) and replacement products that are nice but not necessary such as non -dairy sour cream, nut or rice milk, soy ice cream, various non-dairy cheeses and spreads. So the easiest answer to your question is--As long as your daughter is getting a variety of natural foods, cow's milk and dairy products are not necessary in her diet. One can replace the calcium in milk with beans, whole grains, and greens. The protein is replaced with eggs, meat, beans, whole grains (actually most everything we eat has a little bit of protein). The fats are replaced by eating meat, eggs, olive oil. The Carbohydrates are replaced by eating fruits and whole grains. Plenty of water should be a part of every one's daily diet. (8 - 10 oz per 20 pounds of body weight or 1/2 your body weight in pounds should be consumed in ounces of water, i.e. a 100 pound person should drink 50 ounces of water). Juice is not necessary.

Why doesn't everybody know this?

If you start digging you will find that it is actually hard to find info on the how dairy is not needed for a healthy diet. A few things to keep in mind:

1. The milk lobby is incredibly powerful.

2. Most medical doctors have little nutritional background.

3. The health of your child is your responsibility.

4. Many people throughout the world have long lived without dairy and yet they have strong bones.

Happy Parenting!


Scotty B said…
It is surprising to imagine that so many professionals have not considered that the adult cows making the milk got everything they needed to do so from good 'ol home grown green grass. Thanks for the post, this is an important issue.
Mama Birth said…
Thanks for your comment! Great point too-