Milk Requirements For Kids

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In last weeks article on 10 things I do to save, I said one of the things I do to save is not let my kids drink as much milk as they wish. Instead, I follow the recommended daily requirements of milk for kids. In my article I said “I rarely buy juice and milk only goes on cereal. As a general rule, we don’t drink juice or milk on a regular basis. I might buy juice five or six times a year and our two year old will drink three or four half cup glasses of milk per week, but that’s it.”

Wow, from the responses we saw you would think my poor kids are dying from malnutrition! I got several responses like this:

“How do your kids get enough calcium with vitamin D, and also their vitamin C if they do not drink milk or juice every day? I’d be afraid of fragile bones and vitamin deficiencies. Pamela”

There seemed to be a lot of confusion about milk requirements for kids and I don’t think everyone who told us we are depriving our kids of vital nutrients noticed the part where I said, “They get it on their cereal”.

My kids aren’t deprived of milk at all. By the time they have milk in their cereal (1-2 cups each morning with teenagers), cheese on their sandwiches or in macaroni and cheese (another 1-2 servings), milk in puddings and ice cream (1-2 servings) and yogurt (1 serving), cheese on their tacos (1 serving) and other milk products throughout the day, they are getting PLENTY of vitamin D, calcium and all the other nutrients they need. No, they don’t eat all of those things every day but they do get enough servings of milk in the combinations of dairy products I do give them every day.

Kids DO NOT NEED TO BE SUCKING ON MILK ALL DAY LONG! I know people who give their kids nothing but milk and juice in their sippy cups to drink on all day long. That is too many calories and once a child’s body has enough vitamins, the extra vitamins are simply eliminated unused.

All of my kids started drinking only water for meals at 6 months. (I said meals as in when eating solid food. They were still on formula and had bottle feedings regularly at that age, too.) Then when we weaned them off the bottle, they got only water in their cups for meals and now and then got to drink a half cup of milk or chocolate milk just for a snack. Don’t give kids milk to drink at meals. That just fills them up and then they aren’t hungry for the actual food. Most kids get plenty of milk from other dairy products throughout the day.

As for juice, it is SUGAR WATER, plain and simple. When the kids aren’t eating in season oranges, I give them a multi-vitamin to get the vitamin C they need, which is all that’s in most juices anyway! They also get lots of vitamins in their fruits and vegetables.

So far, my kids are not overweight and are in very good health.

The main point in my original story was that if you are in debt, you should not be spending thousands of dollars a year giving your kids a never ending supply of juice and milk out of fear. If you are in debt or having financial troubles then give them the amount they need and make them drink water the rest of the time!


How much milk do kids need? What are the milk requirements for kids?

  • 2-8 years old drink 2 cups of milk each day
  • 9-18 years old drink 3 cups of milk each day

This isn’t just milk. It includes everything.

So what does 1 cup of milk equal?

8 oz. yogurt

1 1/2 oz. hard cheese (1/3 cup shredded cheese)

2 oz. American cheese

2 cups cottage cheese

1 cup of pudding

1 cup frozen yogurt

1 1/2 cups ice cream


The key to everything is MODERATION!



Pamela, I always recommend that people study basic nutrition because it can be an eye opener. We assume that vitamins are only in some of the most popular foods that we hear about all the time in the media and that we can only get vitamins by drinking those specific things. For example, Tawra’s kids eat cheese, they have milk on their cereal each morning, they eat pudding, broccoli, baked beans and almonds, all of which are all sources of calcium. Many other foods like potatoes have calcium in them, too. The list is too long for me to write, but information on these foods are readily available.

Vitamin C is in so many things that we don’t even think about. One baked potato can have almost 50% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Green peppers have almost as much vitamin C as orange juice. It’s in strawberries, peas, broccoli, peaches, tomatoes, oranges and many other fruits and vegetables, too.

Often people fill their kids up on liquids because it is easier to get them to drink juice than to eat a vegetable. Then, it makes the kids feel full, they don’t eat as much at their meal and 20 minutes after meals they are hungry and start eating more.

Milk and juice are full of calories. The kids are getting a lot of calories from these things but because they are still hungry they add more calories to try and fill themselves up.

To me, giving our children too many calories in the form of juice and milk all the time is as much a contributing factor to the obesity problem for kids as fast foods. We are so worried and obsessed about making sure our kids eat healthy but, at the same time, we are giving them way more than they really need.

As far as vitamin D goes, you can spend about 15 minutes in the sun and get all you need for most normal healthy people. Tawra’s kids walk to and from school each day and get that amount just doing that, not to mention all the time they spend outside playing. To me, the sun is a better source for them than filling them up with even more calories from a glass of milk. Also, so many foods like cereals are fortified with vitamin D so kids get more than plenty.

Truly study a book on basic food nutrients and most of you will be surprised.



photo by: muffett




  1. michelle says

    To each their own…I love Milk grew up on an organic dairy farm and I don’t think milk is making you fat…none of us were ever fat while on the farm drinking milk and when I say we were milk drinkers I mean our family drank at least a gallon a day…now I’m off the farm and can’t handle the crappy taste of store bought milk…I hate hearing how horrible milk is for you…but again to each their own…their your kids you raise them how you see fit…

    • Ashley says

      I think an important thing to remember is the difference in end product here. If you were drinking unpasturized milk growing up, your body would have processed it easier. Plus it is FILLED with bioavailable nutrients. The milk most of us drink “crappy…store bought milk” is completely different because of how they process it (heated to extremely high temps in a matter of seconds, fat broken into particles not easily digested, dead enzymes, etc.). It’s just not as great for you. Better to stay in the guidelines posted and fill up on fruits and veggies IMHO.

  2. cheryl says

    The issue is budget and nutrition. I just posted this on the previous discussion but thought I would put it here to.

    I shared a house with my younger sister and her kids for a few years and it always shocked me how much milk and juice our very budget restricted household went through. I would sit down and show them exactly how much they needed to be healthy but my sister would give them 12 ounce glasses of juice and milk several times a day and wondered why her youngest was such a picky eater.

    Where I live now, we see a pediatrician regularly with FD and when I talk with other parents who see him I discover that one of the things that everyone of them has been told is to get their kids off juice – especially if they are even slightly heavy. When FD came to live with me she drank about 24 ounces of juice a day.

    If you really need to be on a budget, buying excessive amounts of anything is unwise. We buy 1 gallon of milk a week and she has it on her cereal every morning and about 8 oz in her lunch along with a yogurt cup. We use milk in cooking and use cheese. There is no way she is being deprived of good nutrition and in fact eats much healthier than kids who take juice boxes in their lunch every day (what a scam!).

  3. Pam says

    I was a day care worker/teacher for many years and used to drink lots of milk. I also had several sinus infections every year. It was recommended that I stop drinking milk. WOW…I went from several sinus infections in one year to about 3 in the past 15 years!!! When kids are put on antibiotics they are told to stop drinking milk, why? Because of the mucus it creates. As stated in the article children get plenty of necessary calcium and vitamins in other foods they eat. In research I have done drinking a lot of milk has been connected with juvenile diabetes. This is an issue each parent must make for their own family. As for my family we do not drink milk. We use it on cereal and other things but just don’t drink it. Between my four children, the oldest being 12 years old, they have had less than half a dozen colds between them all in their lifetime! Just my two cents.

  4. Erika says

    Once again people are not listening to what was written. Nowhere did I hear that milk was terrible. Nor did I hear don’t give your children milk. What I heard was to use moderation and don’t waste your money on excess. Why have to spend money on gyms,exercise equip,sports classes down the road to get yourself and your children healthy because you did not take the time to investigate basic nutritional needs for your children. Have people not listened to what is being discussed? Doctors and dentists are seeing kids with rotted out teeth at an early age and overweight obesity in epidemic proportions. What is so interesting is that the parents do not see their children as overweight.

    From my soapbox what I am trying to get across is that each of us is responsible for our children’s health(and our own). Basic nutrition requirements are no longer being taught in schools in “health” classes and there are almost two full generations out there who have no concept what a serving size is.Take a diabetes class on nutrition and find out very quickly how wrong most of our ideas are about our food requirements. The program teaches proper dietary requirements. Amazingly it’s just really basic nutrition that is in every food chart and balanced diet out there. It’s not even a special diet. It’s the food pyramid the way everyone is supposed to follow it. The day I was diagnosed as diabetic turned out to be the best day looking back. I rediscovered what I had forgotten and ignored about food. After a year of simply(really!) following the guidelines and eating normal foods I was able to stop using medications. They told me at the time of my diagnosis that I would have died soon.

    So, like Tawra and Jill have said,follow the nutritional guidelines,use moderation (except for popcorn) and do your research before accepting or denying other opinions. The side benefit to all this is that it helps your budget bottomline by not wasting your food dollars. Benefits:
    -healthier, less or no more medications
    -happier, mood swings goe for those sugar/carb highs and crashes
    -no more restricted diets and costs for special meals to get healthy again much less the costs of memberships
    -no expensive gym/spa memberships, just regular stuff like walking,riding,doing outdoor stuff with the family and friends
    Wow, you get to have a normal life that a lot of people will envy. Just by eating the basic nutritional foods a body requires will keep you healthy. It’s how you put those foods together that lets you eat like a king. And your bottom financial line will be so healthy by not having to pay all those extra costs from poorly planned food choices made originally(and their cost).
    We are all capable of free thought and making our own choices. We also must accept responsibliity of our choices and their results(good and bad). Also respecting other opinions is crucial or you may miss the nugget of wisdom buried in the words. I may not like your opinion but I will fight to protect your right to say it! Soapbox finished.

    • says

      Thank you Ericka! You are so right on so many things. I’m glad you pointed out the info about a diabetic diet. It is so true and so many people don’t really understand about it but just know and believe many myths and wives tales. Good job explaining things. Thanks again.

  5. Lucia says

    My kids DO drink a glass of milk a day but not with breakfast if they have cereal (yes if we have oatmeal or eggs or something) and they drink out of jelly jars which are about 1/2 cup at most. All told it’s about 3 gallons a week of milk for 4 kids and juice is something we have at parties as a treat. For us, it’s cheaper to buy milk then pudding and they like their milk so we only rarely have yogurt and almost never have pudding (very special treat). Ice cream is rare too. If your kids are like mine and prefer to drink some milk, then they should drink milk. If they prefer other dairy products then that’s the other way they can have it. I will absolutely agree that there is no reason to drink milk all day long though!

    Another thing is we eat soups made with homemade bone broth which is a rich source of calcium (that you make with your “waste” bones from dinner!) and that’s basically free!

  6. harriet says

    The “milk makes mucus” thing is a complete old wives’ tale, disproven by various scientific studies. As for colds–you get them from a virus. Whether you drink milk or not has nothing to do with it.

    For those of us with CFS and other autoimmune disorders, get your vitamin D levels tested. I was shocked last year to be severely deficient in D, even after I had just come home from a week’s vacation in Aruba where I deliberately sat in the sun for a while without sunscreen to get plenty of vitamin D. Autoimmune disorders seem to use up your vitamin D.

    • says

      harriet, that old wives tale is true in some nationalities. So if someone stops drinking it because of the mucus build up believe them, it probably is true.
      As for being deficient in vit. D many people should not sit out in the sun to collect the rays.
      Some medications specifically say “avoid sun exposure” Diabetes drugs are labelled because of sun damage while on them.
      Some families are prone to skin cancer and should avoid sitting in the sun especially during high density hours.
      I am in one of those families. My father and his brother both ended up with skin cancer they were cured (if you can call it that) for 7 years and then died within 1 year of brain cancer.
      My younger sister my aunt and a cousin on the other side of the family all died of brain cancer in the past 3 years.
      So guess what! I take vit. D in pill form and sit out in the sun under an umbrella.
      This hurts my stamina since I seem to be solar powered. But I prefer to appear lazy to strangers and friends alike and still be alive for my grand children.
      I have CFS fibro, osteoarthritis and RA but the RA has been around apparently since I was a child and I lived outside or at the beach in a boat as much as I was allowed. It didn’t help much except it made my happy and I got wonderful tans. Now I worry about the skin cancer because most adults who get it had the start of it way back when they were children. It didn’t just happen to them.
      wish milk and sun could have saved me all of this pain since I had the extreme of both as a child.

  7. Sandi says

    I have some difficulty with straight milk, but I love cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk. I take calcium with vitamin D since my medications make me sensitive to direct sunlight. I try to get variety, emphasising fresh and local whenever I can. I make bone broth also, and I think it has a richer taste than canned soups and broths do. The crock pot works great for bone broth, since I work long hours and can’t spend time watching a pot. Overnight with leftover bones, pull the bones out in the morning and put in vegetables, barley, and any leftover meat from the bones, rich soup for supper.

  8. Emily says

    I was told by my pediatrician to NEVER give juice as it’s just calories and sugar and to switch to skim milk at 12 months.

    I don’t think my daughter drank anything but skim milk and water until about age 6 and when she tried juice she really didn’t like it that much. She’s never had any nutritional problems. She eats her veggies and fruits and I don’t think kids need to drink juice at all. They get plenty of dairy if they are eating good it doesn’t have to be in the form of many glasses of milk. My daughter rarely drinks a glass of milk at home. She does have a milk at school and sometimes in her cereal.

    I say cheers to you, kids don’t need juice at all and don’t need excessive amounts of milk either!!

  9. Valerie says

    Our son (2 at the time) fell and cracked 2 teeth, he formed cavities in those teeth, along with a cavity in another tooth. The dentist told us he needed to be drinking water, not juice. He drinks about a cup a day of milk, and gets dairy from other sources, like cheese. He eats at least a serving or 2 of fruit a day, so we don’t buy juice anymore for him. Those cavities and caps cost us around $2000 WITH insurance!

  10. says

    I love the passion about what’s in our diets. It’s a good thing to think through what we eat and what we feed our children. At the end of the day, we all need to figure out what will work with our budgets, special dietary requirements and preferences.
    Thank you for your research and further explanation about dietary requirements. There are many sources for vitamin D and C and other nutrients–and I am thankful for the variety.

  11. Tracy says

    I have two family members that both allergic to dairy
    products . They get coughing and not life threatening
    issues. But our country is brain-washed to drink milk,
    if we don’t we will die.
    Dairy products cantain fat which can can lead to heart disease later in life. Some cows are given feed that contains hormones and antibotic so when we ourselves get ill and need to take antibotic they don’t help us to ward off that influenza. Due to the fact that we comsume it daily.
    In Japan they don’t drink allot of dairy or red meat and they live longer then us american by four and a half years.
    I think back to my childhood when milk prices were higher than the price of gasoline. My mother used powered milk
    and mixed with regular milk to feed us way back then.
    But we now as comsumers eat and drink more than we did thirty years ago. And maybe giving kids less milk will make then thinner and no overweight like allot of population in this country.

  12. Jana says

    One of the best things we did about a year ago when my youngest turned 3 and my oldest was 4 is to switch to drinking water as our primary drink source. We set out two cups each morning on the counter for them and they can fill them as often as they like (except after dinner when we remove them so we don’t have accidents at night).

    They drink water all throughout the day because they can do it themselves (in the bathroom sink). We find that they rarely drink what we set out with their meal because they have already satisfied their thirst. It was a great strategy for our household.

    They get milk in their cereal and occasionally a cup at some point during the day, but not usually. They may or may not get juice during a day and consider it a treat when they do.

  13. Pam says

    I have been studying nutertion for awhile and it is true kids should be drinking mostly water there should be a wide variety of food in their diet. If they are drinking juice it should be equal to one small juice box and be 100% juice with no added sugar. Milk should be low fat or no fat. The problem with drinking calories is that then good foods are not eaten plus lots of the no good drinks are expensive and not necessary.We also only have our kids drinking water with meals and now when they are out they ask for water because that’s what they are use to and no longer crave sweet drinks.Plus it’s been a savings. We have a large fruit bowl on our table that is contantly getting refilled and lots of low fat yogart in fridge.

  14. lennie riley says

    I have never feed any of our 9 children milk to drink at any time throughout a day. After each one had weaned from the breast milk, that was it. I’ve always made sure there was cheeses, yogurt and other dairy products. They all are healthy to this day, even their teeth. We just plain couldn’t afford allthat milk. I’m glad to hear that I am not alone.

  15. Lori says

    I’m always floored by the amount of calories most Americans drink. For kids, the calories come by way too much juice and milk. After living in sub-Saharan Africa and teaching nutrition for several years, I got a much better feel for what a child truly NEEDS. Beans & rice, fresh fruits and veggies, and some meat and dairy now and then are all it takes for a well-nourished child. Really. You are not depriving your child by not giving him a ton of processed carbs and sugars. My very healthy and strong (and quite tall for his age) 2 year-old son has never had a glass of juice or regular milk (he weaned himself from breastmilk recently and occasionally gets coconut or almond milk). He is a super happy kid.

  16. Liz Madell says

    We, too, use water as our primary drink at home. The boys get milk and juice at school, and we eat a pretty balanced diet. None of our boys are malnutrition-ed in any way. I find that they tend to ask for less “junk” like pop and juice since its become a primary rule in our house. Also, then those rare moments when we are out and they get to have a pop or a juice, or even flavored water is a treat. I feel that teaching them these eating/drinking habits now will help them as they grow older.

  17. Lep says

    I cut corners on other things (like not having cable, buying clothes at thrift stores or new only on clearance) in order to be able to afford fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and 100% fruit juice (not fruit-flavored imitation juice drinks like Sunny Delight) for my daughter.
    She was allowed all the whole milk and fruit juice she wanted during the day and with meals. I never had a problem getting her to eat meals, and she has never been overweight.

  18. Pat says

    I agree. Kids should get the nutrients that they need but you can give that to them in many ways which don’t include drinks.
    Dairy and fruits can be included in food just as easy as drinking the benefits.
    My mother grew up in germany during the war. She learned how to stretch everything. I remember us not having milk for our cereal one time because we had moved and our households hadn’t been delivered yet. She made milk out of creamer and water and we didn’t miss a beat especially since it was kids cereal filled with all that sugar (back in teh 70’s) and coloring. Ha! I remember her making half milk and half powdered milk to make it last longer. We never grew up drinking milk. She cooked with it and we had it for cereal and once in a while some good chocolate milk that she made or yummy hot chocolate.
    She made everything from scratch and I think it was a much simplier time back them but then woman still stayed at home and took care of their kids. I wish I could say that I did but being single I worked full time and raised my daughter on my own so I can’t say much. Ha!

  19. says

    I run a childcare care preschool and I was surprised about how much milk parents give their children. We give the daily requirements. I had one parent giving her two children 6 gallons of milk a week.

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