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Can toddlers stay healthy without milk?
Q: My 22-month-old granddaughter has not had milk since she was about 2 months old. The doctor said that as long as she eats yogurt and drinks orange juice with calcium and vitamin D she will be alright. Is that true? I always thought milk was very important for toddlers.
Deborah Southfield
A: Deborah, the doctor is correct. At one time, drinking milk was the best way to get calcium into the diet. But now we have so many calcium-fortified products that we don't worry about how the vitamin or mineral gets there—just that it gets into the child! A cup of yogurt is equivalent to a cup of milk, and pudding, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cheese and soy foods are also excellent calcium sources. Vitamin D can be supplemented with a generic children's multivitamin if necessary.

Perhaps fluid milk does not agree with your granddaughter's digestion. Some people get gassy from the lactose sugar. What's important at this age is that an alternate source is given. By the way, children who drink too much milk risk iron-deficiency anemia.

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant