What's the best milk for toddlers: the non-dairy options

I posted recently about choosing milk for my 1 year old son listing the pros and cons of cow's vs goat's milk.  If non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, hemp etc.) is for you either because of allergies or preference, I found this very comprehensive article about milk and what's the best option written by Wellness Mama.

In my opinion, there may not be a perfect milk (other than breast milk), so it's important to decide what's best for your child and family.  It's so important to take a good look at the additives, especially sugar and carrageenan (it has been shown to cause inflammation and gastrointestinal issues), and protein content when deciding on a milk.

I believe it's best to stay away from added sugars (and as many added preservatives, flavors etc. as possible).  And it's important for your milk to have a little healthy fat, protein, calcium and vitamin D for growing families.  But at the end of the day, keep in mind that toddlers don't necessarily need milk, they need the calcium and healthy fat it provides.  

Right now, I have my little guy drinking a little goat milk (probably 1 cup per day) and a little almond, flax, hemp, and coconut milk mixed in (depending what I buy for myself).  I also try to make sure he gets plenty of other calcium rich foods like dark leafy greensbroccoli, butternut squash, oranges, white beans and fish.   Resources suggest that toddlers need about 700 mg of calcium per day and your body actually absorbs more of the calcium in non-dairy foods than it does from dairy.  Here's a look at some calcium-rich foods:

  • 1 cup of most fortified milk has 300 mg of calcium
  • 1 oz cheese: 200 mg
  • 6 oz yogurt: 200 mg
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds: 88mg
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter: 40 mg
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato: 40 mg
  • And more specifics about how much calcium is in your food...

Ask your doctor or nutritionist about Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Omega 3s and other nutrients your child needs that he was getting from breast milk or formula.

Note, babies age 12-24 months shouldn't drink more than 16-24 oz of milk a day as it may fill them up and keep them from eating the nutrients they need especially iron!  Offer water throughout the day too!

If you want to avoid the additives often found in non-dairy milk, you can make your own nut or seed milk.  Hemp milk is easy as you don't have to soak the seeds.  The taste is a little earthy, but Sam likes it and it's actually quite simple to make (easier than making smoothies because it requires no chopping)!  Here's how:

Combine 3 cups  (+/-) of water and 1.5 cups of hemp seeds (available at health foods stores, whole foods or amazon.com) in a blender or food processor and blend for a minute or two.  You can also add a little vanilla bean or a date if desired.  Pour the contents in a milk bag over a pitcher.  Squeeze out excess moisture and enjoy!  Makes about 4 cups.

always consult your doctor before giving your child milk other than breast milk or formula


  1. thanks for the interesting article. we tried a few options and right now we are using an organic goat milk formula too. flax? i have heard of all other options, but flax is new to me. do you have any details on it?

  2. I'm giving my daughter Dumex's Milk For Toddlers. I never had a chance to try this one that you posted. Hopefully she can transition well for trying this too.

  3. Thanks for such an important article for the new parents like me. Actually I am overwhelmed when to choose the best organic goat milk formula for my baby. Your article helped me a lot to take my decision.

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