Can the Soda, Drink Milk Instead
Milk's many nutrients make it the best choice of beverage for children (and adults). But in an alarming trend, soda and fruit-flavored drinks are replacing milk, even in the diets of young children. According to surveys in recent years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 5 are drinking more soda, while the amount of milk they drink is decreasing.
Other national surveys find that children who are not getting enough calcium are those with the fewest dairy foods in their diets. Vegetables have some calcium. But your child would need to eat six cups of broccoli to get the calcium in 1 cup of milk.
The Scoop on Calcium Fortified Foods
It seems like every month there's another new calcium-fortified product-orange juice, cereal bars, fruit drinks, and more. Are these good sources of calcium? Nutrition experts encourage consumption of calcium through dairy products.
This form of calcium is easier for the body to absorb. Plus the vitamin D in milk helps the process. However, calcium-fortified foods are a reasonable alternative if your child is allergic to milk protein or lactose intolerant. Get your doctor's advice before removing dairy products from your child's diet.
Whole, Skim, Or Choose A Percent?
All types of milk, whether whole, skim (fat free), 1%, or 2%, have the same amounts of vitamins and minerals. All are healthy choices for children older than 2 years. Children between ages 1-2 years should only have whole milk. Once a child reaches her second birthday, you can gradually switch her to drinking reduced-fat milk.