No matter the age, gender or health status, every child should follow a well-balanced diet in order to be healthy and strong. Consuming highly nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains can help enhance their immune system, promote growth and achieve overall wellness.
A food group many parents tend to neglect when it comes to their kid’s nutrition are dairy products. The truth is these products provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals that are important for all stages of your child’s life.
The most prominent nutrients kids need are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is required to keep bones strong and promote healthy teeth, while vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium.
There are several rich sources of these essential nutrients which you should definitely implement as part of your kid’s everyday meal plans and here is a brief explanation of the most important ones.
Milk plays a major role in every child’s nutrition as it is the first type of food an infant consumes as soon as it is born. However, once the baby gets older, parents turn to cow’s milk to deliver all the nutrients such as protein, fat and vitamins that kids need for proper growth and development.
Unfortunately, some children may be allergic or intolerant of cow’s milk, so parents look for milk alternatives for toddlers that will offer the same health benefits. Some of the best options include soy milk, nut milk, pea milk and grain milk.
Cheese is a type of dairy product often given to children as soon as they enter the solid food stage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is usually around seven or eight months of age.
The most important thing parents should remember about cheese is to always offer full-fat cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, cottage cheese and ricotta. Such cheese choices can help your kid’s body and brain grow and develop properly.
A very common way to implement it is as part of snack meals where you will combine it with different vegetables.
Yogurt is a food with a creamy consistency filled with nutrients that are essential for the overall wellness of your child. The presence of vitamins B6 and 12, calcium, various proteins and probiotics make this type of food extremely beneficial for a kid’s bone development and gut health.
The most popular choice for children is plain yogurt. It is the mildest form of all the yogurts and it contains the highest amount of calcium. You can implement it as part of your little one’s main meals and snacks and combine it with anything especially fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Despite contrary belief, butter is another dairy product that is considered one of the best nutrient-dense foods a child can consume. It contains fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K which are essential for your kid’s growth and development.
Also, the minerals present in it can help your kid fight against fungal infections while promoting digestion.
The best form of butter you should opt for your toddlers is raw or organic butter because they retain all the nutrients naturally present in butter. Spread some on a bagel or bread toast and toss some fresh veggies on top and you have a nutritious meal.
Recommended intake of dairy products for kids
In general, the right amount of dairy products your kids should consume daily mainly depends on their health needs. In most cases, this is usually around one and a half to three serves of dairy every day.
For example, here are some ideas for meals and snacks that can help your child meet the recommended intake of dairy.
- Breakfast – fat-free or 1% fat milk in cereal, a smoothie or oatmeal, or served alone.
- Lunch – low-fat cheese and crackers.
- Dinner – low-fat cheese with protein and vegetables.
- Snacks – low-fat yogurt or fruit smoothies with fat-free or 1% fat milk.
Dairy products are just as important as the other food groups and they need to be a part of every child’s nutrition. The presence of numerous vitamins, minerals, proteins and other nutrients is what actually helps your little one in the growth and development process.
Plus, with so many options available, you can include all types of dairy products in your kids’ diet in different ways you believe they will like the most.
For more help, keep our post nearby to help you learn which dairy products are the most beneficial for your toddler’s overall health.