How to make sure your child gets the daily quota of milk
Does your child create a fuss when it comes to drinking milk? Here are some options and solutions.
By Prachi Mandholia
How many cups of milk does your child drink in a day? Is it plain or flavoured milk? A topic which can bring stress to all mothers today.
Cow’s milk consumption in childhood has always been an important measure of a child’s growth and development for generations now. Parents are now exploring non-cow milk beverages to balance out the consumption.
Firstly, let’s understand the emphasis on milk. Cow’s milk is a good source of protein and calcium, which helps in development of strong bones during childhood. However, too much emphasis can do more harm than good. Too much milk consumption is known to cause iron deficiency as high calcium content in milk interferes with iron absorption.
For children aged two to eight years, two cups or 500 ml and for nine to 13 years, three cups or 750 ml is the recommended daily dairy allowance. One cup of milk, two cups of yogurt, 50 gm of cheese are all considered as one cup from the dairy group.
I have observed mothers going to any extent to feed their child milk. Some add a scoop of malted health drink powders or protein powder. Parents must not get swayed by marketing gimmicks that sell “nutrition for the mind and body”. Milk already contains the natural sugar lactose and adding these products only adds to the sugar content and artificial flavours.
Some mothers add tea or coffee powder to milk, just to see their child drink milk. A big shoutout to the parents—tea or coffee for children is a big no.
Caffeine is a stimulant and not a nutrient. It has various health effects in children like dehydration, anxiety, sleep disturbances. So avoid forming such habits only for your satisfaction.
Look at various ways to incorporate milk in your child’s diet:
The first option should always be plain milk without sugar. If not, then, plain milk once and trade for another option for the second serving.
Naturally Flavoured Milk
Adding cardamom, turmeric, ginger or cinnamon enhances the flavour of milk without adding any artificial product. When nature gives us so many natural flavours, why opt for artificial ones?
Fruit or Dried Fruit Milkshakes
Seasonal fruit milkshakes are a great option. Fruits like bananas, apples, chickoos, mangoes and strawberries added to milk make an appealing beverage. Also, dried fruit milkshakes made with dates, dried figs or almonds make a great nutritious energy drink.
If opting for this option, go for a homemade version. Start with a ratio of one cup of almonds to two cups of water to make almond milk. If you would like a thinner consistency, use more water and for thicker milk, use less. However, this option provides much lesser protein than cow’s milk and is not a good source of calcium.
This is a good option for kids who are lactose intolerant. It is a good source of protein but not calcium. Soy milk is not as easy to prepare as almond milk. Here’s how you can prepare soy milk:
Soak two to three cups of soybean overnight and in the morning discard the water.
Remove the skin.
Blend the soybean with four cups of water.
Strain it through a muslin cloth.
Heat the milk for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent from sticking.
Cool the milk and use up to four days.
Home-made Yogurt or Paneer
Do not be disheartened if your child is not willing to consume any of the above options. Try out yoghurt or paneer.
About 250 ml milk or one serving will make about 50-70 gm of paneer. Add it to a salad, vegetable preparation or let the kids have it as it is. As far as possible, make sure it is homemade.
Two cups of yoghurt make one serving of dairy. Serve it plain, make a lassi or a delicious raita out of it and I’m sure your child will love it. Again, homemade is recommended.
All kids love cheese. About 50 gm of cheese makes about one serving of dairy. Two slices of cheese makes one serving. Cheese slices are the best way to incorporate this option.
Wake up to milk, wake up to health!
(The writer is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. She is a practicing Clinical Nutritionist, based out of Mumbai. For more, email at [email protected])
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