What Kind of Milk Should You Give Your Kids?

Calcium is one of the key factors in building and maintaining strong bones, especially for growing toddlers, children, and teens. Milk and other dairy products are a great source of calcium and other important nutrients that fuel growth and brain development.

The amount and type of milk that you should give your kids depends on their age. The Dietary Guideline's recommended amounts of dairy are based on age rather than calorie level and are 2 cup-equivalents per day for children ages 2 to 3 years, 2½ cup-equivalents per day for children ages 4 to 8 years, and 3 cup-equivalents per day for adolescents ages 9 to 18 years and for adults.

According to pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann babies under 1 year should not drink regular cow’s milk but at 6 months old they should be introduced to yogurt and cheese.

Kid eating cereal with milk

Kids 1-2 years old

At this age, it is recommended that whole milk or reduced-fat 2% milk is offered unless you have a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol or obesity, or your pediatrician thinks your child is already getting enough healthy fat in their diet. Children in this age range need nutrients and healthy fat in whole or reduced-fat milk for brain development.

Kids 2+ years old

Fat-free or low-fat 1% milk is recommended for children aged 2 and older. All milk contains similar amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is only the extra amount of fat that is removed in the lower-fat milks. Since many children get enough fat and calories in their diet, the extra fat in dairy is not necessary.