I get a lot of questions through email but one of the most common is about milk. I think most of us have been misled to believe cow’s milk is a nutritionally superior food and we must give it to our kids for them to be healthy. There are many respected doctor’s out there who can properly dispel that lie. Additionally the PCRM (Physicans Committee for Responsible Medicine) has some great literature that can answer a lot of your questions, there is even a section on Nutrition for Kids. Check out Parents’ Guide for Building Better Bones or Health Concerns About Dairy Products. I’ll focus on what works for us. And if it’s ok with you I’ll be completely real.
In Our Cups
We don’t drink dairy. I buy almond milk, rice milk, and occasionally coconut milk. We prefer almond milk to the others. When we first switched to eating plant-based I gave my son (who was 2 years old) a variety of the three. I was afraid of him becoming dependant on one type (or worse one brand) and not being able to find it. In the beginning he drank a lot of plant milk and it was getting expensive. Then our youngest got a little older and we started giving him plant milk too, it became even more expensive.
My boys got to the point that they always wanted milk. I didn’t like that. I decided to start cutting back on the plant milk and offering it less. I didn’t rush this. They always have water available now and love it. Anytime we leave the house we all have our water bottles. I don’t want them to feel like they need a “special” drink, most people drink way too many calories anyway. Now we are down to offering them milk a few time as week. I think this is a success, we were going through 1/2 a gallon a day in the beginning.
In Our Bowls
We eat cereal. I know it’s mostly processed junk but I like to have quick, gluten-free options available. I buy cereal that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have seen in my pantry but will admit I let my kids eat it too often. We prefer almond milk in our cereal and buy both sweetened and unsweetened. Rice milk is too thin for our liking, although our 16 year old daughter prefers it.
In Our Mixing Bowls
When I bake it is usually for an event so I usually use rice milk. So many people have nut allergies so I try to limit the top allergens if I have other options available. Rice milk has a very neutral flavor and seems to work well for baking.
In the Real World
This has been a journey for us. We started eating Plant-based over a year ago. We don’t do it perfectly. Dairy is one of the areas that I am more strict. Last January I was still allowing my son (who was about to turn 3 year old) to have occasional cow’s milk or cheese. I even wrote a post about it called Evil Chocolate Milk Vomit that you may or may not want to read. If we go to a party and my 3 year old wants a piece of cheese I may let him have one but we will talk about how it will make his tummy hurt and he might decide against it. If there is birthday cake I’ll let him have some and not obsess about what is in it. Last week he ate pizza that had cheese on it. Now my youngest son who has a wheat, peanut, and likely dairy allergy is NOT allowed to have any of that. And don’t you even try to sneak him ice cream because I will hurt you!
A little tummy ache is one thing, a full on allergic reaction or flare up that will last days is another. Exposing him to something that will really hurt him is like letting him play with a knife and I won’t knowingly let that happen.
I’ve done my best to keep this mostly focused on giving toddlers milk but focus isn’t really my strong suit. Do you give your kids cow’s milk or plant milk?