So, cow’s milk is off the menu at your place. Perhaps your child has been diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance, your children hate the taste, or there’s another reason you’ve decided to go dairy-free (be sure to get expert advice and guidance from your GP or nutritionist before completely eliminating any foods from your family’s diet, including yours and your kids’). Now, you’re weighing up the pros and cons of other milks on the market. Here’s a rundown on where to start your search.
The early days
For babies aged younger than 12 months, breast milk or infant formula is essential. When you celebrate that special first birthday, you may also consider introducing milk as a drink, as part of a varied balanced diet – cow’s milk is standard, but if you’d like to try something else, consider your options and do your research!
Fussy kids not too keen on cups of cow’s milk? Before ditching it altogether, you can try ways to sneak it in – on cereal, perhaps, or even add a tiny dose of flavouring to sweeten the deal. The valuable nutrients they’ll get from the milk are worth this small sin – after all, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!
If you’re going to have soy milk, be sure to choose a full-fat brand that is calcium fortified. You can also find soy yoghurts in the dairy aisle, too.
Low in protein and fat, rice milk isn’t suitable as a drink for kids. It’s fine to sip occasionally and use in cooking, but it’s not a good choice to replace cow’s milk as a drink.
This is another milk that just doesn’t cut it as a replacement for cow’s milk – it’s too high in kilojoules and low in calcium and protein, so it fills little tummies quickly without providing much-needed nutrients. Again, it’s okay to offer your child a sip when using it in cooking.
Goat’s and sheep’s milk
These may sound like a good substitute, but the component of cow’s milk that can trigger an allergic reaction is also found in goat’s and sheep’s milk. If allergy isn’t an issue, be sure to buy milk that’s been pasteurised.
Always seek expert advice when making big decisions about your family’s eating habits – and cutting out cow’s milk counts as a major shake-up! Most milk alternatives are fine in cooking and as treats, but remember that not all milks are created equal.