There are lots of different dairy products in the shops. Some products are full fat, some are low fat, some are reduced fat and the list goes on. All these choices can make it hard to know what is best for your child. Click here to find out what Kate Holland, childhood dietitian, had to say about dairy and dairy alternatives.
Dairy products are foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. These foods are a good source of calcium. Calcium helps your bones and teeth stay healthy and strong.
In the first six months your baby will get all the calcium they need from breastmilk. This is why Ms Holland recommends waiting until your child is around 6 months of age before introducing solid foods like cow's milk and yoghurt.
When your child is ready for solids, Ms Holland recommends introducing dairy products slowly. “Cow's milk can be used in small amounts for cooking and on breakfast cereal. Breastmilk should be your child's main drink.”
After 12 months, your baby can drink more cow's milk; however they should drink no more than 500mL in a day. “Too much cow's milk can lead to low levels of iron. It is important to make sure your child gets a balance of what they need” says Ms Holland.
Other dairy products like cheese and yogurt can be introduced with other solids around 6 months of age. Ms Holland suggests introducing a variety of vegetables and meat first as your baby will still be getting the calcium they need from breastmilk.
The amount of dairy your child needs depends on their age. Generally they should have between 2-3 serves of dairy per day. A serve of dairy is one cup of milk (250mL), a tub of yoghurt (200g) or 2 slices of cheese (40g).
“Dairy is often forgotten about when it comes to lunch boxes, but it is a healthy snack” says Ms Holland. For example, cheese can be added to sandwiches, melted over vegetables, eaten as a snack or used in cooking.
Dairy is an important part of a healthy diet and a healthy diet will help your child grow and develop. If you are worried about what or how much your child is eating speak to your local doctor or a childhood dietitian.
If you live in Sydney Local Health District contact the Child Health Information Link on 9562 5400, select option 2 and ask for a referral to a childhood dietitian.