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How do I get my baby to drink milk?
Q: My 1-year-old does not like to drink milk. How can I get her to like milk? She has problems with her kidneys, which they say is from reflux, and has been on amoxicillin for 18 months.
A: Lisa, thanks for your question about encouraging your 1-year-old to drink milk. When babies are less than 1 year of age, 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, Vitamin D 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. A child-size serving of milk is ½ cup or 4 ounces, so if your daughter got all her dairy from milk, she should drink 16 to 24 ounces 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 her cup with meals and snacks. She might also like milkshakes with fruit made in the blender. Some parents offer chocolate milk in limited amounts.

It’s possible that the antibiotic she’s taking might be irritating your daughter’s stomach a bit. Ask her doctor about how you might readjust the timing of the antibiotic in relation to her meals and snacks to see if that makes a difference.

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 by giving her yogurt or cottage cheese (one serving is ½ cup) and hard cheese (one serving is ½-¾ ounces of cheese). You can cut the cheese into bite-sized cubes or melt it onto strips of tortilla or bread. If she won’t drink or eat dairy products, be sure she has other sources of calcium and vitamin D in her diet such as soy formula, soy milk enriched with calcium and vitamin D, calcium-fortified orange juice and calcium and vitamin-enriched cereals, bread and crackers.

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician