How Much Milk Kids Need

How much milk do kids need?  Lately, I've been thinking the whole milk obsession we have is a bit overrated.  According to the government agency I work with for daycare, kids Kaia's age (4 years old) need at least 2 1/4 cups of milk during the day and kids Harry's age (11 months) need 22-32 ounces of breast-milk or formula during the day.  At Kaia's 4-year check-up the doctor asked, "Is she drinking enough milk?"  I can understand why Harry needs so much.  He is still a baby, after all.  But why so much for a preschooler?

A serving of milk has enough extra calcium added to cover 30% of your daily needs.  It also is fortified with Vitamin D.  Drinking milk is supposed to help children develop healthy and strong bones. America is the highest dairy-consuming country in the world. But, guess what?  There is a higher rate of osteoporosis among Americans than any other developed nation. Somehow, I don't think drinking milk is helping.  And, in the meantime, we're giving our kiddos a lot more fat and calories than they would be getting if they just had water with their lunch.

I found a study published in 2005 in Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed journal.  In it, Dr. Amy Joy Lanou explains that the idea that kids need milk for healthy bones is simply not well supported by scientific studies.  In fact, the scientific support behind kids drinking so much milk is "scant."

It seems that exercise, an active lifestyle, and an appropriate body weight have more of an effect on osteoporosis than milk consumption.  A decent multivitamin and a little sunshine covers Vitamin D.  I'm not saying we should all quit drinking milk. But I do think we should stop stressing when our kids don't drink 2-3 cups a day.


Alicia@ Mommy Delicious May 5, 2011 at 4:29 PM  

Thanks definitely true. If they don't get in the 2-3 cups of milk, they should be fine if they have a well-balanced diet and are active. No need to stress ourselves out over it.

Jansen Family May 5, 2011 at 11:03 PM  

Seriously! Not worth the stress. I have a friend who told me that giving kids chocolate milk will help them drink more. I just thought, "Really? Do they really need that?" I don't think so.


The Shepherd family May 6, 2011 at 11:39 AM  

I laugh at the chocolat milk thing too :o) I have started to learn anything that they push with comercials and other such propaganda really isn't all it's cracked up to be, why don't we have t.v. spots advertising veggies and more fruit, the more I learn about nutrition the more I learn that they are really what we need to be feeding us and our kids the most of. My kids love water, and I had someone try to have to switch to hot chocolate so he continues to like it? Really? Why would I add all that sugar to something he already likes without it? Thanks for the post!

Jansen Family May 6, 2011 at 3:17 PM  

I would love to see more fruit and veggie propaganda! And hot chocolate for the sake of milk? No way! I think you may be onto something though, with the advertising. I can't imagine how much money the dairy industry would lose if doctors and child care professionals stopped pushing the milk concept!