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From north to south, one common concern that unites mothers in India is whether their children are drinking enough milk. We are obsessed with the idea of shoving milk down the child's throat. The fixation over the amount of milk is such that the quantity of the white fluid that vanishes from the glass is directly proportional to the cheerfulness on mother's face. If you are one of these mothers, you have clicked on the right article. We are here to explore why milk is important and how much milk children need to drink.
Milk, as you rightly think, is a highly nutritious fluid. It contains proteins and fat. Protein is needed to build and repair body tissues and to form antibodies which circulate in the blood and help fight infection. Fat is essential in the diet of young children to help the brain and nervous system develop normally. Milk also contains the following nutrients: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. It is also a significant source of riboflavin (vitamin B2) which helps promote healthy skin and eyes, as well as vitamins A and D. So milk is indeed a wonder liquid.
Excess of everything is bad. Same goes for milk. It is good not to feed too much of milk to your child as it can interfere with the absorption of iron in the body. Milk can affect iron absorption and reduce the effectiveness of iron supplements. While this is generally not a major health issue for adults, small children who consume too much milk can become deficient in iron and might develop anemia. For this reason, it is recommended that babies under 12 months old should not be given cow's milk at all and children under 5 should be limited to 2 to 3 cups of milk per day. Another effect of drinking too much milk is that the child may feel full and hence eat less at meals. This is not recommended as eating vegetables, fruits and grains is very important. Toddlers who consume more than around 700 ml of milk a day are likely consuming less protein, fiber and iron-rich foods they need to grow and thrive. This can put them at risk for such conditions as constipation, iron-deficiency anemia, obesity, and/or poor weight gain depending on the rest of their dietary habits. Ideally toddlers and preschoolers should drink around 450 ml of milk.
We have now a fair idea of how much milk is good for the child but there are many children who frown at the sight of a glass of milk. If your child is one of them, I have good news for you. The total required intake of milk is not counted only in the amount drunk from a glass; the milk added to porridge is equally good. If your child eats oats / porridge, mission accomplished! What I do on days my son goes on a milk strike, I dip roti in hot milk and add a pinch of sugar and my little boy gladly eats it. Try it out and do not forget to share if it worked. I would also love to know your tricks to add milk to your baby's diet,please share.
What if your child still does not budge and refuses milk in all forms? Should you panic? The answer is no. Don't worry mamma dearest, just add yoghurt and cheese to your child's diet. 500 ml of dairy in any form (milk/yoghurt/cheese) for children up to 8 years and 750 ml for older children is fine. They will take care of your child's needs. So put your feet up and enjoy a glass of lassi! May be your child likes it too?
Pic courtesy google
*This article came up after a lot of research on the topic. It is still advised to consult your pediatrician if you have concerns.