Ask Holly: Does my child need to drink milk?

My 15 month old son switched from formula (problems breast feeding at 4 months) to organic whole milk at 1 yr. We have found that cow’s milk seemed to be causing diarrhea? He even has bouts of diarrhea when he has pudding made with whole milk. My pedi suggested he drink lactaid milk. I have seen improvement however, I would like your suggestion on another form of calcium instead of lactaid milk–how about soy, rice milk? Some mom’s tell me their toddlers don’t drink any cow’s milk products? I am a bit confused? Do you rec’d a multi vitamin with calcium at this age?


New york, NY

3 thoughts on “Ask Holly: Does my child need to drink milk?”

  1. Hi Tanya,
    This is a very good question- and one that stirs much debate. The truth is that humans don’t need to consume milk after infancy, yet dairy products are a part of many traditional diets. The difference is that most of these cultures use fermented dairy products that are more easily digested by our bodies such as yogurt, kefir and raw cheese. 75% of people are lactose intolerant- after weaning from the breast or formula, most people quit producing the enzyme lactase to digest the lactose found in milk. That is why your son is probably having a hard time with it. Also, pasteurization of milk changes the nutrient value and makes it difficult for the body to recognize the protein and the calcium, so most of the calcium goes out of the body unused.
    The best source for calcium is the same place cows get it- greens. Dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, turnip greens, bok choy, etc. Also okra, broccoli, hummus, figs, sesame seeds, blackstrap molasses, flaxseed, almonds, almond butter, white beans, Great Northern beans and navy beans are all great sources of calcium.
    As for other milks, you can make your own almond milk which would be a great option as long as he’s not allergic to nuts. I’m not a huge fan of most commercially available soy milks because they contain so many additives to create a similar mouth feel to milk. However if you do want to try soy milk, look for one that is calcium fortified with the only other ingredients being organic soybeans and water.
    Another option to consider is goat milk. Research shows that the human body tolerates goat milk better than cow’s milk because it is more easily broken down by the body. It also contains more calcium than cow’s milk and does not contain hormones or antibiotics. I like the brand Oak Knoll.
    Quick nut milk recipe:
    Use 1/2 cup raw cashews or blanched almonds, finely grind in a blender and add one cup cold water. Strain it until he gets a little older, and see if he likes it! You can also sweeten it with a little blackstrap molasses, honey or maple syrup if desired.

  2. holly–thank you for all these options. i actually eat mostly goat cheese and yogurt due to having celiac disease (gluten intolerance) which is much better with my gluten free diet. so, we will stock the house with goats milk and the many other greens, beans and other calcium enriched foods to meet the needs of our son. really appreciate all the great information

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