Dairy milk is a great way to consume your daily recommended amount of calcium. Toddlers need about 700 milligrams of calcium a day, and it’s especially important to meet this requirement since their bodies are still growing. Some children have a tough time transitioning to dairy from breast milk or formula. If you’re facing this issue with your child, try these creative approaches to encourage your little one to drink milk and enjoy the benefits of calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients.

When to make the switch

The transition to milk takes place around your child’s first birthday. Before 12 months of age, your baby isn’t ready to digest cow’s milk. At one year, your baby gets more nutrition from solid food so you can stop using formula and start supplementing with dairy milk.

Tips for making the transition

Before you move entirely to cow’s milk, make sure your child has a solid diet including a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Milk provides key nutrients, but it does not offer all of the nutrients your baby needs. Good eating habits ensure your toddler can still receive the nutrition they need.

If you’re child doesn’t like the taste of cow’s milk, make the transition slowly. Instead of taking away formula or breast milk entirely, start adding milk for a snack or during mealtime. This allows your child to enjoy the familiar option, but also be exposed to the new drink.

Creative encouragement

You may have to get creative when it comes to convincing your child to drink their milk. Keep offering it at each meal, as some children need multiple exposures to milk before they decide it’s okay. You may also consider adding some healthy flavor for encouragement. Try pureeing strawberries or other fruit into the drink. Call it a milkshake to encourage your child to give it a try.

You may try offering your child warm milk. If this works, gradually warm the drink less and less until they are used to drinking it straight from the fridge. Another way to take advantage of the nutrients in milk is to add it to your child’s food. Stir some milk into oatmeal or offer a creamy soup. A fruit smoothie with yogurt is a yummy, toddler-friendly way to add dairy into your child’s diet.

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