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My 1½-year-old won't drink milk.
Q: How can I get my 1½-year-old to drink milk? Ever since I took the bottle away, she won't drink milk. I've tried flavors like strawberry and chocolate, but she refuses them as well.
A: Marilyn, you’re not alone. Many parents of 1-year-olds are concerned their toddlers aren’t drinking enough milk. When babies are under 1, it’s easier to for us to feed them and be sure they’re getting enough milk and solid foods. But 1- to 3-year-olds begin asserting their independence, showing preferences for foods, taking charge of feeding themselves and refusing to eat or drink certain things.

Dairy products are an important part of a child’s diet. They contain protein, calcium and other nutrients that help build strong bones, teeth and muscles. It’s recommended that your 1-year-old have four to six servings of dairy products per day.

If she isn’t drinking much milk, there are several ways you might encourage her: get her a pretty sippy cup and encourage her to “be a big girl” and drink milk from it with meals and snacks. She might like milkshakes with fruit made in the blender. Maybe, after trying everything else, it will turn out that your daughter just doesn’t like the taste or texture of milk. You can still make sure she eats enough dairy in her diet by giving her yogurt or cottage cheese (one serving is one-half cup) and hard cheese (one serving is one-half to three-quarters of an ounce of cheese). You can cut the cheese into bite-sized cubes or melt it onto strips of tortilla or bread. Orange juice fortified with calcium is also a good source of calcium for your baby.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician