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Milk for young children

Is milk safe for young children, and if so, what type of milk is best?

Cows' milk should not be given to infants under 12 months of age. Their digestive systems are still developing and before 12 months there is a risk of stomach bleeding if fed cows' milk. There is also a risk of developing an allergy, especially in families with a history of allergy. Only breast milk or infant formula should be offered.

After 12 months of age, milk is an important addition to the diet. This can be cows' milk or soy milk if fortified with calcium. 500-600mls a day of whole/standard milk is recommended for one and two year olds. Milk is a good source of nutrients and energy for toddlers, but they shouldn't have too much or they won't have capacity in their small stomachs for the other foods they need to balance their diet.

Before two years of age, toddlers need a higher-fat milk (dark blue) because they have such high energy needs, but after two years children can change to lower-fat milks.

First published: Oct 2007



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