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How To Get Your Toddler To Drink Milk

When babies are first born new moms have milk on the brain constantly. What milk should I feed my baby, breastmilk, or formula? How often should I bottle feed my baby?

Is my baby nursing enough? How do you store breastmilk correctly in the freezer? There are always so many milk-related worries and questions in those early days with a baby.

You may think you can stop thinking so much about milk once your baby turns one, but transitioning your baby on to cow’s milk isn’t always easy.

Your baby isn’t a newborn anymore but you may still have milk worries, wondering how to get your toddler to drink milk and if they need to be drinking milk now at all. 

Some toddlers will happily drink cow’s milk and others will point blank refuse. If your toddler won’t drink milk, we have some tips for you to try that might encourage your little one to drink up.

Is It Ok For Toddlers Not To Drink Milk?

To grow strong and develop correctly, toddlers need approximately 700 milligrams of calcium per day.

By 12 months of age, your baby should be eating a variety of solid foods and be in the process of weaning from formula milk to cow’s milk (of course, babies who are diary-free would be weaned onto alternative milk).

Nursing mothers can continue to breastfeed for as long as they want, nursing does not need to stop as soon as your baby turns one. As your baby enters toddlerhood they should be getting the majority of their nutrition from solid food, not milk. 

Giving your toddler cow’s milk to drink is an easy way to make sure they are getting their daily recommended amount of calcium.

However, milk is not the only source of calcium and your baby can get their daily requirement just by eating plenty of calcium-rich solid foods like cheese and yogurt.

Cow’s milk isn’t essential for your baby’s diet, but calcium is important. Milk also provides your baby with protein, Vitamin D, and other important nutrients.

All of these important vitamins and nutrients can be found in other food sources so try not to fret too much if your toddler will not drink milk.

Some children simply just dislike the taste of cow’s milk and will always refuse to drink it.

What Happens If My Baby Drinks Old Formula?

If this sounds like your toddler, even after you have tried all the tips we talk about in this article, then it is totally ok for you to stop trying to encourage them to drink it. There are other foods that they can get their calcium intake from.

How Can I Get My 1 Year Old To Drink Whole Milk?

Your baby won’t suddenly stop wanting milk just because they have turned one. Transitioning your baby from formula or breast milk to whole milk is a process and can take time.

When you introduce cow’s milk gradually into your baby’s diet, it does not feel like such a big ordeal to them when the formula or breastmilk is no longer offered at all. 

Many one-year-olds grow to love and enjoy drinking cow’s milk. However, some toddlers may take some convincing and you may need to get creative when trying to get your toddler to drink milk.

It is just like how some adults would feel apprehensive about trying something new to eat or drink; sometimes we have to try something new a few times before we can really decide if we like it or not. 

If your one-year-old won’t drink whole milk, try not to stress. There are lots of tips in this article that will help you to encourage your toddler to drink milk.

How To Get A Toddler To Drink Milk From A Cup – Tips

Now your toddler is over 12 months old they should be eating solid food regularly throughout the day and not relying on formula or breastmilk as their main source of nutrition.

It is also a good idea to try and wean your baby off drinking from a bottle at this age too. Research has found that prolonged use of a bottle can cause orthodontic problems, such as teeth growing through crooked and wonky. 

As some parents like to switch to cow’s milk and ditch the bottle at the same time, here are some tips to encourage your toddler to drink milk from a cup: 

Offer daytime milk in a beaker

It is rare to see a baby jump straight from a bottle to an open-top cup. Also, it is not very often a baby will go from bottle feeding at night to drinking their bedtime milk from a cup.

Bottles offer babies a lot of comforts and it will take time for them to feel ready to give up the bottle for good. Try offering your baby their daytime milk in a beaker with a lid.

There are many different styles of beaker available but one that encourages sipping rather than sucking (like through a straw) is best. 

Play tea parties

Your baby won’t just know how to drink from a cup, you will need to teach them. A great way to show your baby what drinking from a cup looks like is to play tea parties with pretend tea.

Sit with your baby with a plastic tea set and pour some ‘tea’ for you both. Pretend to drink from your toy cup and encourage your baby to copy you. This is an easy way to practice the coordination and motor skills needed for drinking from a cup without any of the mess. 

Practice in the bath

If you are worried about the mess, let your toddler practice using a cup in the tub. Obviously, don’t let them use the bathwater but a bit of spilled diluted juice or drinking water in the bath isn’t the end of the world.

You could make practicing drinking from a cup part of your bath time routine and before long your toddler will be drinking from a cup confidently all over the house. 

Use their favorite drink

There is no point in trying to introduce a cup to your baby if they don’t like what is inside. Even if you want to transition your toddler onto cow’s milk, try offering them a familiar drink the first few times they use a cup.

Your toddler will likely be more accepting if they recognize the taste of the drink in their new cup. Once your baby has started to happily receive the cup, then you can start introducing different drinks to it. 

Don’t wait until your baby is one

There is no need to wait until your baby turns one before offering them a cup for the first time. Babies can be given a beaker or a cup from six months of age.

Once you begin weaning your baby around the time they turn six months old you can start offering a cup of water after meals or try giving them their daytime milk feeds in a cup or beaker. 

Make the bottle boring

How To Label Bottles For Daycare

You can try making your baby’s bottle less appealing than their new cup. Older babies and toddlers may get excited about drinking from a cup or beaker if it has pictures of their favorite Disney character on it, for example.

Some parents try offering only water in a bottle and putting their baby’s milk in the cup. The theory here is your baby will lose interest in their bottle if it doesn’t have milk in it and begin to enjoy drinking their milk from their cup instead. 

How To Get Your Toddler To Drink Milk?

Whether your toddler is drinking from a bottle, cup, or beaker, sometimes they just don’t want to drink milk. Cow’s milk should ideally make up a part of your child’s balanced daily diet and it is worth trying to encourage them to drink it if you can. 

If your toddler won’t drink milk, here is a list of things you can do to try and encourage them: 

Warm it up

Is your baby used to drinking their milk warm? Nursing babies will be used to drinking breastmilk at body temperature and most bottle-fed babies drink warm formula.

The reason your toddler is refusing to drink cow’s milk could be because it is too cold. It can be a shock going from warm milk to icy cold milk straight from the refrigerator.

Try warming your toddler’s milk up and offering it to them again, they may be more accepting this time. Once your toddler is happily drinking warm cow’s milk, start heating it for less time until you reach a point where your toddler will drink it cold. 

Mix into food

Babies can start having cow’s milk mixed into their food from around six months of age.

Whether you are using it to make a sauce for mac and cheese or to make their oatmeal in the morning, cow’s milk can be introduced into your baby’s diet as soon as you start weaning at six months.

However, babies should not be given cow’s milk as an alternative to formula or breastmilk until they are one year old as cow’s milk does not offer as much vital nutrition.

If your toddler is refusing to drink cow’s milk now they are one, just continue to incorporate it into their food diet, mixing it into recipes whenever you can. As long as your toddler is getting enough calcium, it doesn’t matter if they don’t want to drink milk. 

baby bottle for kid

Add flavor

We are not suggesting you start introducing your baby to unhealthy sugary milkshakes. What you can do though is add some natural sweetness to your baby’s milk to see if this will persuade them to drink cow’s milk.

You can try making your toddler a fruit smoothie, blend up some berries, or half a banana with some milk. Your toddler might not like cow’s milk because its taste is unfamiliar, by making it into a smoothie with fruits they like you might have more joy getting them to drink it. 

Mix into formula or breastmilk

Mixing cow’s milk into formula or breastmilk is not recommended while your baby is still relying on milk as their main source of nutrition.

Substituting a full formula feed for formula mixed with cow’s milk could lead to your baby become malnourished and lacking in vital vitamins and minerals.

Babies need the correct amount of formula for their age and nursing babies can continue to nurse as often as they want until you are ready to stop.

However, when you are trying to transition your toddler onto cow’s milk or another milk alternative after their first birthday, it is ok to mix some into their bottle with their usual milk.

Slowly start adding small amounts of cow’s milk to your baby’s formula or expressed breastmilk. Over time you can increase the amount of cow’s milk until your baby has become used to the taste.

Gradually you will be able to stop using breastmilk or formula at all and your toddler will just be drinking cow’s milk. 

Don’t pressure them

It is ok if your baby doesn’t want to drink cow’s milk, or if they are just taking a long time to get used to drinking it.

As long as your toddler is getting calcium, protein, and vitamins in their diet from other sources, you can relax about the cow’s milk. Your toddler will need to stay hydrated so make sure you are offering them plenty of drinks of water or diluted juice throughout the day.

Sometimes it just takes a lot of exposure to something new before your toddler will happily give it a try, so continue to offer them a small amount of cow’s milk at a time of the day when they are alert and feeling curious.

One day they may surprise and just drink a whole beaker of milk without making any fuss at all. And if they don’t even drink cow’s milk that is ok too, they can get all the nutritional benefits of milk through a variety of different foods. 

The Final Thought

Cow’s milk is a great source of calcium, protein, and other important vitamins needed for healthy growth and development.

Some toddlers love cow’s milk but for others, switching from formula or breastmilk to cow’s milk can be tricky. There are lots of ways you can encourage your toddler to start drinking cow’s milk, we have highlighted some of the best ideas in this article. 

Remember, cow’s milk is not an essential part of your toddler’s diet.

As long as you are providing your baby with lots of calcium and protein-rich foods and they are eating a healthy balanced diet and staying hydrated, your toddler doesn’t need to drink cow’s milk if they really don’t want to. 

You could always try alternative milk to cow’s milk such as goat’s milk – check out our comparison here. Or even alternative milk such as almond milk.