Risks of Toddlers Drinking Too Much Milk

Milk is usually considered to be very good for children, and it is a good source of protein, fat, vitamin D, and calcium, at least for those children who don't have a milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance. But your child can get too much of a good thing.

Too Much Milk and Constipation

One common problem when kids drink too much milk is constipation. In addition to not having any fiber itself, kids who drink too much milk often get filled up drinking milk and might eat fewer foods that might be high in fiber. This can especially be a problem for toddlers and preschoolers who drink much more than 16 to 24 ounces of milk each day.

Too Much Milk and Obesity

In addition to constipation, another big problem of drinking too much milk is all of the extra calories that the child is getting. These extra calories usually either cause a child to be full and not want to eat many other nutritious foods or if they are still eating well, then all of the extra calories can lead to their becoming overweight.

If a child drinks 32 to 48 ounces of milk each day, at 19 calories per ounce he is getting about 600 to 900 calories just from milk. That is one-half to two-thirds of the estimated 1300 calories that a toddler needs each day.

Plus, if your child also drinks a lot of juice, he could be getting almost all of the calories he needs from the milk and juice he is drinking, even though that wouldn't provide him with the right mix of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Too Much Milk and Iron Deficiency

Another big problem is that toddlers who drink too much milk are often at risk for iron deficiency anemia. Again, this is usually because milk doesn't have any iron in it. If they fill up on milk, then they often don't eat many other iron-rich foods. If the anemia is severe, a blood transfusion might be required.

Preventing Drinking Too Much Milk

Here are ways to prevent these problems:

  • If you decide that it is necessary, an easy way to cut back on your child's milk intake is to simply not fill up his sippy cups. Instead of 8 ounces in the cup, just put in 5 or 6 ounces. Then maybe stick to just three to four cups per day.
  • Switch to low-fat milk once your child is 2 years old.
  • Talk to your pediatrician for extra help if your child doesn't seem to eat foods with texture and prefers to drink all of his calories, as he might have a food aversion.

On the other hand, if your child doesn't have an iron deficiency (your pediatrician can do a blood test to check for anemia), eats well, isn't constipated, and is gaining weight normally, then drinking so much milk isn't as concerning.

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