Milk Allergy / Intolerance Diet for Toddlers
If your toddler must avoid dairy due to a milk allergy or intolerance, you may be concerned about his diet. Toddlers should consume 2 cups of dairy totaling 700 milligrams of calcium each day. There are many ways to fulfill a toddler's daily calcium requirement without consuming dairy products.
If your child can consume soy and nuts, soy milk or almond milk are good substitutes for cow's milk. Rice milk is another non-allergenic option. Most brands of soy, almond, and rice milk contain 300 milligrams of calcium per cup, the same as dairy milk. Soy, almond, and rice milk can be served as a beverage or used in place of cow's milk in cereal or oatmeal. Soy milk can be used instead of cow's milk in cooking or baking recipes. Almond and rice milk are sweeter than soy milk, and don't work as well in savory dishes. Many supermarkets carry soy yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Frozen treats made with rice milk are also readily available.
Many non-dairy foods contain high amounts of calcium and can be easily incorporated into your toddler's diet. Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is a great source of calcium for those who can consume soy. Firm tofu can be cooked and added to meals. Silken tofu can be added to smoothies. Broccoli and dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, have large amounts of calcium. If your toddler doesn't like greens, try blending and hiding them in pasta sauce or smoothies. Calcium-fortified cereal, bread, and orange juice are toddler-approved sources of calcium. Canned salmon with bones is a great source of calcium if your child can consume seafood. Although it sounds like a choking hazard, the bones are actually soft and easy to mix into the salmon. Beans are high in calcium, and can be blended with olive oil into dips and spreads. You can also bake with blackstrap molasses, which is high in calcium. If your child can eat nuts, almond butter and sesame seeds are high in calcium. You can add sesame seeds to stir fries, pasta, cookies, and breads. Tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds, can be added to many homemade dips.
Toddlers require 40 grams of fat per day. Because most dairy substitutes have less fat than cow's milk, it is important to incorporate other fatty foods into your toddler's diet. Avocado, meats, fish, olive oil, and canola oil are good choices. If your child can consume nuts, peanut oil and almond butter or peanut butter are great fat sources. It is also important to make sure your child is getting enough Vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium. Toddlers should have 600 IU (international units) of Vitamin D daily. Vitamin D can be found naturally in salmon, tuna, mackerel, and beef liver. Soy, rice, and almond milk are fortified with Vitamin D, as are many juices, breads and cereal. Spending about 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen can also help your toddler meet the daily Vitamin D requirement.
It is important to know that many store-bought foods contain hidden sources of milk, such as caseinate, casein, curds, dry milk solids, and whey. Carefully check all ingredients of anything you purchase, and do as much of your own cooking and baking as possible. If you are concerned about your toddler's milk-free diet, speak to your pediatrician about meeting with a nutritionist. Making sure your toddler has a complete and healthy milk-free diet takes some work, but once you have made the initial adjustments, you can confidently serve delicious and nutritious meals and snacks that satisfy nutritional demands – and discerning taste buds.