Dairy through life
Milk and milk products such as cheese and yogurt can play an important part in a healthy balanced diet for children. Along with calcium, they provide important nutrients including protein and vitamin B12.
The recommended amount of calcium required by children of different ages is shown below. This is also a guide to the portions of dairy which could contribute towards meeting their needs.
Calcium needs mg/d 350
Portion suggestion providing about 360g of calcium
- 100ml whole/semi skimmed milk
- 80g yogurt
- 15g cheese
Calcium needs mg/d 450
Portion suggestion providing about 465g of calcium
- 130ml semi–skimmed milk
- 100g yogurt
- 20g cheese
Calcium needs mg/d 550
Portion suggestion providing about 570g of calcium
- 150ml semi–skimmed milk
- 125g yogurt
- 25g cheese
Along with dairy, there are other sources of calcium. These include tinned oily fish (with bones), calcium–fortified soya drinks, tofu, sesame seeds and dried figs.
The benefits of dairy products for children
- Milk and milk products (such as cheese and yogurt) can play an important part in a healthy balanced diet for children
- During childhood, bones continue to grow and develop, and it is important that children have the right nutrients to build strong and healthy bones, and to lay the foundations for lifelong bone health
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt can provide children with a variety of important nutrients such as calcium, protein and phosphorus which contribute to the normal growth and development of bones
- Dairy products can also provide children with other important nutrients. Milk, for example, is a source of vitamin B2 which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and vitamin B12 which is needed to make red blood cells
- Between the ages of one and two, it is recommended that toddlers have whole milk rather than lower fat varieties of milk (such as semi–skimmed and skimmed milk). Compared with lower fat milks, whole milk provides extra energy and vitamin A, which are important for growing children. After the age of two, semi–skimmed milk can gradually be introduced to a child’s diet, provided they are growing well and consuming a balanced diet
- Skimmed milk and 1% fat milk are not suitable as main drinks for children under five
- Only breast milk or formula milk should be given as a main drink to children under one as cow’s milk does not contain the right balance of nutrients to meet a baby’s needs at this age. After six months, cow’s milk can be used for cooking – for example to make a cheese sauce – and can be introduced as a main drink after the age of one.
Why not check out the School Milk Scheme section to find out how a carton of milk at school can contribute towards meeting a child’s nutrient needs?
For more on the nutrients in milk and dairy click here