Milk has many added benefits. It’s high in calcium, which means it’s good for strong bones and your child’s teeth. Milk is also high in fat, protein, and vitamin D. It’s added benefits (if your child doesn’t suffer from lactose intolerance) are extremely worthy, which is why milk is considered a superfood.
But like many foods (even superfoods) if over consumed, can have bad side effects. Milk is no exception.
What Can Happen If Your Child Drinks Too Much Milk
One of the most common features of drinking too much milk is constipation (1). Milk has little to no fiber. Without fiber, your body is incapable of passing a bowel movement. Drinking too much milk can make kids stopped-up.
Milk is Filling
Not too mention that if kids drink too much milk, it will fill them up. This spoils their meal and also further prevents them from consuming anything with fiber.
After your child is a year old, he or she should only receive milk after a meal. Since milk is so filling, it can cause a child not to be hungry enough for their next meal, which may end up causing picky eating. You’ll notice this trend when your child hardly eats any dinner or lunch and then demands a snack shortly after the meal is over.
Only allow your child water between and during meals. This means no juice too.
Weight Gain From Drinking Too Much Milk
Consuming too much milk also can lead to weight gain, which in turn can lead to your child being overweight or even obese (2). Milk is both high in fat and calories and consuming too much of a food high in both fat and calories can have a dramatically negative effect on your child’s weight.
Consider that there are about 124 calories in a glass of two-percent milk. If your child has 3 extra cups of milk a day, that’s 372 extra calories. According to a Harvard study, researchers say that an extra 165 calories a day for kids 2 to 7 could be the driving force of the obesity epidemic (2). What this means is that extra calories from milk could have a great impact on your child’s weight. This doesn’t apply if your child is drinking the recommended amount of milk a day or less.
Risk of Anemia
Anemia is another issue; iron is important for muscle and brain development and maintenance (3). Milk has no iron in it and if your kid is getting a large bulk of his nutrients from milk a day, then he isn’t eating enough foods with iron.
Not to mention, milk limits the absorption of iron in the body, too (3). Low iron means he’ll be lethargic and this can lead to other more serious health conditions.
How Much Milk Should A Child Drink In A Day?
According to an article in Parenting, here’s the recommended amount of servings of dairy a day by age:
Age 1 – 3: Two servings or 16 oz
Age 4 – 8: Three Servings or 24 oz
Age 9 – 18: Four Servings or 32 oz
Remember, a serving of dairy is any dairy-related food, such as cheese, milk…etc. One cup of milk is one serving.
*Infants should not drink cow’s milk before they’re one because they can’t digest this kind of milk just yet (4).
What To Do If Your Child Is Drinking Too Much Milk?
To decrease the amount of milk your child drinks, try and limit the amount of milk you serve him or her. If you normally give your child 9 ounces in a sippy cup, give him 7 or 8 and increase how much water he is drinking. Slowly decrease the amount of milk in the cup. I generally give my twins 4 oz of milk after a meal. Generally, my children will eat some other form of dairy throughout the day so I am fine with them drinking less milk throughout the day.
Many Pediatricians recommend switching children to low-fat milk (after they’re 2) to decrease fat (1). The reason why you don’t want to give kids under 2 years old low-fat milk is because they need the fat from the milk to help them grow and develop (4). I would caution not to make this switch until after 3 years old because the brain grows from 25% to 90% in the first three years and our brains need a high fat diet to help with brain development.
The Case For Staying on Whole Milk
New research indicates there is a lot of value in having kids drink whole milk. Whole milk is more filling and may reduce the need to snack (5). Generally, the foods children snack on are considered empty calories and can contribute up to 27% of the calories children consume in a day. If you can, stick with whole milk for kids.
So when it comes to milk, be sure that your child is consuming the correct amount of it. Too much milk is not good for your kid, for their health or for their lifestyle.
The study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, a sister publication of the British Medical Journal, finds that low-fat milk was associated with higher weight for preschool-aged children .
The study found that kids drinking low-fat milk tended to be heavier. This is just the opposite from what doctors and researchers hypothesized.
If you feel he may have some of these issues, consult your child’s Pediatrician. And, if he isn’t aware of these studies, please pass them along.
Check Out These Other Great Resources:
- How Much Sleep Do Children Really Need? Are Your Kids Getting Enough?
- Get Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies By Channeling Your Inner Artist
- Is Cauliflower the Ultimate Brain Food? Facts, Tips & Recipes!
About Health: Risk of Drinking Too Much Milk
New York Times: U.S. Children: Generation Snack
Science of Mom: Does My Child Drink Too Much Milk