Milk and its derivatives for children: attention should be paid to this

Rhineland Palatinate. Milk and its derivatives are important sources of calcium. Calcium ensures good growth of bones and teeth and prevents bone diseases in old age. The Consumer Center in Rhineland-Palatinate has compiled the recommended amount of milk and milk products for your child.

The basics in a nutshell:

  • Milk and its derivatives contain a high percentage of calcium.
  • It is important for the growth of bones and teeth. In addition, it prevents bone diseases in the elderly.
  • Three servings a day are recommended, about a glass of milk, a little yoghurt and a slice of cheese.
  • Products like strawberry milk or fruit yogurt often contain a lot of sugar.
  • A purely vegetarian diet is not recommended for children. However, plant-based milk alternatives can complement the diet.

From 1 to 18 years old: This is how quantities and portions can be large

Three servings of milk or dairy products daily is recommended for children from one year of age. A portion corresponds to a small glass of milk or a small glass of yoghurt, quark, milkshake or yogurt. The portion size depends on the age of the child. You can use the following quantities as a rough guide:

Age in Years Estimated Guidance Milk per day

4-6 350 ml/g
7-9420 ml/g
10-12470 milliliters/g
13-14 490/600ml/g (Girls/Boys)
15-18520/680ml/g (Girls/Boys)
From 18,300 mL/g
(Source: Kersting/Kalhoff/Luecke, From Nutrients to Food and Meals: The Concept of the Optimal Mixed Diet for Children, Current Nutritional Medicine, 42 (2017), pp. 304 ff.).

In addition to calcium and high-quality protein, milk and dairy products also contain fats. So drinking milk should not be seen as a drink, but as part of a meal or as a snack. Choose low-fat products, such as milk or yogurt, which contain 1.5 percent fat.

If children prefer to drink whole milk, then save the fat for other meals. Milk and low-fat dairy products also have the same protein, vitamin, and mineral content as whole milk. Skimmed milk and yogurt that contain only 0.3 percent fat or less are not recommended. Vigorous scraping removes not only fat, but also some valuable components.

Read here how milk is produced and processed.

Of course, cheese is also a dairy product and also provides a lot of calcium. When choosing, you should give preference to varieties with a maximum fat content of 30 percent fat (or 45 percent fat in the dry matter). A portion of cheese is a slice the size of your child’s palm.

Although cream is also a dairy product, its high fat content puts it at the top of the food pyramid, that is, among additives. This means that it should only be used occasionally.

Caution with raw milk: Raw milk that has not been heated is not suitable for children. They can contain pathogens and thus cause foodborne infections. Make sure to boil beforehand! Also, cheese made from raw milk is not suitable. You can identify raw milk cheese by the mandatory “made with/from raw milk” notice.

Dairy products especially for children – does that make sense?

The way along the refrigerated counter seems endless so the range of yogurts, mixed milk drinks, quark, candy, etc. is quite huge. Prepared fruit yogurts or mixed milk drinks often contain a lot of sugar and other additives and usually only contain a very small amount of fruit. They belong to sweets and are not a healthy snack. When children get used to this taste, they are more likely to refuse conventional dairy products.

You make a good choice with products that do not contain any additives, such as milk, natural yogurt, quark or curd. If your kids don’t like to eat it straight away, you can easily spice it up at home with some fruit, fruit puree or herbs. Even a teaspoon of jam can add more flavor now and then. See this article for more information on baby food.

If your child refuses to drink milk, cocoa can be an alternative. However, pay attention to the sugar content here as well. One teaspoon of instant cocoa can contain up to 4 grams of sugar. This corresponds to 1.5 sugar cubes. It’s best to mix your cocoa from milk (with 1.5 percent fat), pure cocoa, and less sugar.

Plant-based alternatives – are they suitable for children?

A purely vegetarian diet is generally not recommended for children, as adequate supply of certain nutrients is a major challenge, especially during the period of growth and development. If you, as a parent, decide to follow a plant-based diet for your child, seek medical and nutritional advice. Check your child’s food intake regularly

If children eat the recommended three servings of milk and dairy products per day, this means that they are already adequately supplied. You can then supplement the list with milk alternatives or vegan alternatives to yogurt, cream or quark, for example made with oats or soybeans. Here, too, you should pay attention to the sugar content and unnecessary additives. Plant-based alternatives with added calcium can sometimes replace a portion of the milk. /note

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