Milk Water and Your Toddler

After weaning from breast milk or formula, children are often given cow’s milk as a source of bone-building calcium. Milk and water are considered the healthiest beverages for your toddler.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • 2 to 3 8-oz cups of milk a day for 1-year-olds
  • 2 to 2.5 cups a day for ages 2 to 5

Interestingly, research has suggested that dairy products may be a factor in excessive weight gain in children. One study found that children who drank the most milk also gained the most weight. Interestingly, skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain, while whole milk was not, perhaps because parents allow children to drink low-fat milk more freely.


Water remains the gold standard. Instead of fruit juice (or milk if the child has had enough for 1 day), dietary experts suggest letting water quench your child’s thirst.

Alternate sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables and daily exercise (which is important to developing healthy bones as well as preventing obesity).

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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