What To Do When Your Child Hates Milk: Adding Dairy to the Diet

A list of substitutes for milk for when your toddler or child does not like milk. It is easy to work it in!

Child drinking milk

If your child is like Brayden or Kaitlyn were, you have no concern over the milk or dairy intake of your child. He/she drinks plenty and you are not worried.

If your child is like McKenna, however, you are concerned. 

When it came time to wean McKenna and move to milk, she was not interested in milk AT ALL.

To get 2-3 ounces a day was good.

Yes, I was concerned. But I have had two children come before her, so I wasn’t freaking out like I would have if Brayden did that. 

Now, a little more  than 6 months later, McKenna will drink about 8 ounces a day most days in milk.

Some days, she drinks 16 ounces, but most of the time she still isn’t up to the ideal range of 16-28 ounces (I aim for 24) that many pediatricians recommend.

Yesterday, as I mixed some milk in with her yam and giggled to myself that I was “sneaking” milk into her, it hit me that a post with ideas for “sneaking” milk into your child’s diet would be helpful. So here were are.

Adding Milk to Your Child’s Diet

It is easier than you might think to add milk to your child’s diet. 

You can do it easily through foods. Like I said above, I added milk to McKenna’s baked yam. 

I routinely add milk to her oatmeal each day.

So any time you are adding a liquid to something, add milk.

Also, just keep a sippy of milk in front of her at meals. Don’t push it, just have it there for her to drink if she chooses to.

Substitutes for Milk

All of the dairy “ounces” do not need to come from milk. In Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron, she has a “Calcium Equivalents” table. This is found on page 127. 

The following foods are equivalent to 4 ounces of milk:

  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 4 ounces tofu (calcium coagulated)
  • 3/4 ounce of natural cheese
  • 1 inch cube of cheddar cheese
  • 2 T cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup ice cream

You can of course also get calcium from other dairy products such as buttermilk (make pancakes!), evaporated milk, some soy milks, and butter.

Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

You can also find calcium in other foods not derived from dairy (found on page 540 of Super Baby Food).

Note that the sole point of dairy is not calcium–it is also a great source of fat, which your kiddo needs as he/she grows. So if you use these methods, make sure your baby is getting the fat she needs from other sources.:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Almonds (this is obvious, but do not feed whole almonds to pre-toddlers and even toddlers. Some even say to wait until 4-5 before feeding nuts to children)
  • Soybeans
  • Tahini
  • Filberts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard Greens
  • Almond butter
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Amaranth
  • Broccoli

It is always wise to talk to your doctor before introducing foods that you are unsure of.


Check out this Pre-toddler summary where I talk about McKenna’s milk consumption (or the lack thereof). It also discusses how I observed McKenna to balance her dairy diet on her own.

Trust your child to take what she needs. So long as you offer her healthy choices, in most cases, you can trust she will eat what she needs to.

And if you have any tips of your own, please share!

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