Non-Dairy Milks

Non-Dairy Milks

At 12 months most babies transition from formula to whole milk, and some babies transition from breastmilk to whole milk, or begin to add whole milk to their diet.

For families who are not willing or able to use dairy milk, the non-dairy milk landscape can be daunting.

I pulled together nutritional information on a representative sample of the non-dairy milks I found in my grocery store chiller and in the non-dairy shelf stable milk section.

So! Many! Options!

We generally recommend 2-3 cups (16-24 oz) of whole milk per day. That provides 550-830 mg calcium.

  • Kids 1 to 3 years old need 700 mg of calcium a day (2–3 servings) (Nemours)
  • Kids 4 to 8 years old need 1,000 mg of calcium a day (2–3 servings) (Nemours)

Toddlers should have 7 milligrams of iron each day (Nemours). Whole milk does not have iron, and excessive intake (more than 24 oz per day) can cause iron-deficiency anemia because it interferes with iron absorption.

Most toddlers need about 1,000 calories per day, and 2-3 cups of whole milk provides 300-450 calories. If they’re getting around half their calories from milk, it’s probably best if the percentages of carbohydrates, fats and protein roughly match these macronutrient ranges, in terms of how many calories are coming from each category.

Acceptable Macronutrient Ranges Percentage of Total Energy (%)
 Children 1-3Children 4-18
Carbs45-6545-65
Fat30-4025-35
Protein5-2010-30
Source: Nelson’s Pediatrics 19e (Kliegman)

For example, for children ages 1-3, 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates, 30-40% from fat, and 5-20% from protein.

You’ll see the beverages vary hugely in every aspect of their nutritional content!

How does your favorite non-dairy milk stack up?

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