How Much Milk Should a Toddler Drink?

Milk is a superfood that provides high levels of easy-to-consume cell-rejuvenating protein in adults. The whey of milk is also the base ingredient for weightlifters who want to get fit. Milk is loaded with vitamin D and calcium and may contain rich fats that speed up development at a young age. Babies depend on milk or similar formulas to make it through the first year of life. However, once your baby reaches the toddler years, too much milk can diminish their health instead of enriching it. Let’s consider how much milk a toddler should drink, below.

What happens if your toddler drinks too much milk?

Parents often wonder just how much milk a toddler should drink. According to the experts, a toddler should drink no more than 16 to 24 ounces of milk each day. When parents supply more than this and fail to encourage their toddlers to eat other healthy solid foods, the collateral effects can be very unhealthy. Few parents know how much milk a toddler should drink and can allow them to fall into some bad habits.

Allergies and Intolerances

Before you serve your child cow’s milk, you should ensure that they do not suffer from an allergy to the milk proteins or an intolerance to the lactose. Some experts claim that the milk is not properly digested by people without these sensitivities if it is missing any element of its natural state. Nevertheless, not all milk has to be whole milk. Milk has varying levels of fats such as cream, buttermilk, and skim milk that can all contain all the essential elements.

Deciding how much milk a toddler should drink is a balancing test. The key is moderation in all things. If your child does not get enough calcium from other dairy sources, they may need the milk to compensate. When it comes to dairy, most will develop symptoms of a lactose intolerance when they consume high volumes of dairy or mix the dairy with other foods that are hard on the stomach such as soda. For this reason, you must consider whether your child is suffering from diarrhea when weighing the balances of how much milk a toddler should drink.


Drinking too much milk is a common problem in toddlers who are not being challenged to try other foods. When this happens, the children can become constipated because they fill up on milk and drinks. If they eat any other food, it can get clogged in their intestines if it is not high in fiber. Therefore, parents have to be careful if their children are consuming more than the recommended 2 to 4 (8-ounce) glasses of milk per day.

If your child drinks too much milk on some days and not others, you may be able to cure their constipation with over-the-counter remedies that allow you to blend in powdered fiber with the milk or water. Nevertheless, the end goal should be to gradually introduce your child to a wide range of healthy solid foods beyond the cow utter.

It can be hard to determine how much milk a toddler should drink if you don’t notice any symptoms. Constipation is one symptom that can be difficult to observe externally. It is better to hedge against it than to worry about it.


A toddler should only take in about 1300 calories a day. However, if they are drinking an excess of milk, this can easily add over 900 calories by simply drinking double the maximum recommended daily allowance. The high volume of calories can make children obese because the milk may not feel very filling. Therefore, the child will eat other foods in addition and quickly surpass the recommended daily allowance of calories. If they do not eat other foods, then they may not become obese but will develop a nutritional deficiency.

Few parents know how much milk a toddler should drink when the milk is not cow’s milk but some other substitute. Some experts even suggest to feed your baby pure cream from a cup when they reach the age of 1. In any case, you have to consider the calorie count and the activity level of your toddler. A toddler who is up and walking about all the time may be able to get away with an extra 300 calories a day.

Iron Deficiency

One of the most serious nutritional deficiencies that milk drinkers develop is an iron deficiency. Although breast milk contains iron, cow’s milk does not and may cause your toddler to develop a type of anemia. The only treatment is to take your child for blood transfusions, which are expensive and can feel a little scary for young children.

A few non-traditional sources of iron would be anything cooked in a cast iron skillet, fortified cereals, fortified formulas, vitamins, and fortified baby foods. However, parents have to be very careful because too much iron was the leading cause of death in children under the age of 6 up until the ’90s.

When considering how much milk a toddler should drink, also consider whether the milk is a formula fortified with enough vitamins and minerals. If your child is not choosing many solid foods yet, at least ensure that their formula has sufficient nutrients. It is best practice to introduce toddlers to foods like chicken, liver, pasta, rice, seafood, beans, green vegetables, nuts, eggs, and fruits.

How to Limit Your Toddler’s Milk Intake

One way to do this is to simply underfill any sippy cups that you use to feed your child. By reducing the amount of milk, the child may feel the security and bond that they developed with milk without all the calories. You can also reduce the number of times that you provide milk by experimenting with different types of drinks to ween them off the habit. If your child is obese or over 2 years old, you can also serve them reduced-fat milk to lower the calorie count.

You may have to consult a pediatrician if your child is avoiding wholesome foods that may be harder to chew or textured. Some children develop food aversions and require some training and positive reinforcements to diversify their palettes. Nevertheless, some children have a higher metabolism and may be eating a sufficient variety of foods. In these cases, going above the recommended daily servings of milk may not matter.

How much water is your toddler drinking?

You should also get your toddler used to drinking water. You may want to start your baby off drinking alkaline water at a young age because it has many of the minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and other trace minerals that can be found in breast milk. Ordinary tap water and most spring water can be very acidic. This can lead to excess stomach acids and an electrolyte imbalance. It is also bad for teeth.

Parents who know how much milk a toddler should drink should also provide them with an equivalent amount of water, at least 2 to 4 cups per day. When you consider all the heavy metals, chlorine, and even medications like Prozac that can be found in tap water, it makes sense to drink an alkaline alternative. Babies should not drink ionized water, however, because the pH can be too basic. Alkaline water is the closest substitute for breast milk and provides the most benefits.

Should your toddler have milk before bed?

One of the worst habits is for parents to continue using bottles. When a baby reaches the age of 1, they should no longer be given bottles. A pediatric study shows that nearly 23 percent of toddlers who were given a bottle up to the age of two were suffering from obesity by the time that they reached 5 and a half years of age. Although it may seem to be a great way to placate your child with something familiar to send them off to dreamland, bottles can become a repetitive habit that is more of a catharsis than a feeding.

If you understand how much milk a toddler should drink, it is safe to say that none of that should come from a bottle. A bottle encourages children to develop an aversion to food because they like the feel of the soft rubber nipple in their mouths and can develop an oral fixation. The same type of oral fixation may be a reason why cigarette smoking is so addictive as a catharsis.

If your child eats enough healthy foods, you will never have to worry about how much milk a toddler should drink. Simply swap out the whole milk with reduced-fat or even skim milk if calories become a concern. In fact, a toddler can consume nearly unlimited volumes of lactose-free skim milk because it will be like drinking a vitamin and protein fortified water. Although skim milk has some sugar in it, it is not enough to increase the risk of obesity. Adults can, likewise, drink gallons of lactose-free skim milk every day and will only benefit from the results.


Do you know how much milk a toddler should drink? The answer is all relative to the type of milk and what else they are eating. Milk really does the body good and can rarely be taken in excess if lactose-free skim milk is partly on the menu.

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