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Different Types of Milk for Toddlers

As parents, making sure our little ones have a well-balanced diet is of the utmost importance, and milk plays a vital role in their daily nutrition. But with so many options to choose from, it can sometimes get confusing to know exactly which milk is best for your child.

Here, we’ll look into the most common types of milk available at your local supermarket and online. We’ll also answer questions like is soy milk good for toddlers and what’s the benefit of cow’s milk vs goat’s milk. By weighing the pros and cons of each, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your little one’s well being.

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is still the most popular type of milk for toddlers in most parts of the world, due in large part to its broad nutritional benefits. Cow’s milk is an excellent source of calcium, containing 236 mg in 200mL of full cream milk.

It’s recommended that toddlers can drink up to 500mL (2 cups) of cow’s milk per day. However, it shouldn’t replace breast milk or formula until they are 12 months old. In terms of potential concerns around cow’s milk consumption, lactose intolerance or milk allergies are not uncommon in small children, and they may cause digestive issues or even allergic reactions.

Whether it’s regular full-cream milk or organic toddler milk, make sure you slowly introduce cow’s milk over time. When starting out, avoid flavoured milk or sweetened varieties to limit your toddler’s table sugar (sucrose) intake. Also speak to your healthcare professional if you suspect any allergies or intolerances.

Goat’s Milk

Goat’s milk is a potential alternative to cow’s milk for toddlers, and organic goat milk options are also available. However, be aware of the potential for allergies or intolerances to goat’s milk proteins.

Goat’s milk contains a different protein than cow’s milk, which improves digestibility in some instances. Goat’s milk contains less vitamin B12 and lactose than cow’s milk, but more fat, calories and calcium.

When introducing goat’s milk, remember that it’s not suitable for babies and should only be given to toddlers as their main drink after 12 months, similar to cow’s milk, it is low in iron, and the protein and sodium levels are not appropriate for babies.

Soy Milk

Derived from soybeans and offering a range of nutritional benefits, soy milk is a common alternative to cow’s milk. In terms of its nutritional profile, soy milk is the closest to cow’s milk among the milk alternatives, making it a great option for toddlers with a cows milk allergy or intolerance.

When introducing soy milk for toddlers, always start slowly. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that soy milk should be fortified with calcium.

Oat Milk

Oat milk for toddlers has grown in popularity as a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk, however, given its moderate protein and low fat content, it should not be considered as a suitable replacement for cow’s milk.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is a dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk that is derived from rice grains. When introducing rice milk to your little one’s diet, we recommend you first speak to your healthcare professional first. For toddlers, rice milk should be fortified with both calcium and protein.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is a lactose-free alternative that’s suitable for toddlers with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. However, it contains lower protein and energy than dairy milk, and it may contain very little or no calcium. You should also be aware that almond milk for toddlers may not be suitable for those with nut allergies, so always seek advice from your healthcare professional before introducing almond milk.

Flavoured Milk

Given the option to choose for themselves, most toddlers would no doubt go for flavoured milk above all others – not only due to its enticing taste, but also the fun packaging and branding. However, as their parent or guardian you should be mindful of the nutritional impact of giving them flavoured milk. While it may provide the same essential nutrients as regular milk, many flavoured milk varieties are also full of added sugar and artificial additives.

The high table sugar content in flavoured milk can contribute to excessive calorie intake and increase the risk of tooth decay and weight gain in toddlers. Consuming excessive amounts of added sugar can also hinder their dietary choices and overall relationship with food, which may negatively impact their willingness to try – and accept – other healthier foods.

To promote healthier dietary choices, opt for plain, unsweetened milk for toddlers. For a more nutritious flavoured milk alternative, try a fresh fruit smoothie recipe using Alula Gold Toddler, such as our Banana Strawberry Smoothie or Berry Smoothies.

Choosing the Right Type of Milk for Your Toddler

When deciding, on the nutritional composition of the milk options for your child, always consider their individual needs and consult with your healthcare professional beforehand. Each type of milk comes with its own unique benefits and potential drawbacks, so choose the option best suited to your child and make the transition to milk a fun and adventurous time in your toddler’s life!

You can get inspiration about how to give your toddler a more balanced diet by checking out our other recipes here.