Milk for Kids With Lactose Intolerance
Milk is good for kids. You know that. But it is good for YOUR child? After all, each child is different. How do you know if your child is lactose intolerant – or not?
Lactose Intolerance is…
A food sensitivity, not a milk allergy or sickness! It happens when the body doesn’t make enough lactase. Lactase is a body enzyme that handles lactose, which is the natural sugar in milk.
Lactose intolerance isn’t common during childhood. Even if you’re lactose intolerant, your child probably isn’t. Adults feel the effects more than kids do; some people, more than others.
Diarrhea, stomachache, gas, or feeling bloated are symptoms of lactose intolerance. These same symptoms can point to more serious health problems. Find out!
If you suspect lactose intolerance:
Talk to your child’s health care provider. That’s the only way to know what the symptoms really mean.
Skip any urge to diagnose lactose intolerance yourself. If you take away a food, such as milk, your child might miss nutrients needed to grow and stay healthy.
If your child has lactose intolerance:
Relax. Your child can still enjoy milk products and get the nourishment that milk gives. Nutrients in milk help your child grow and build strong, healthy bones and teeth.
Tell caregivers – If your child goes to childcare, bring a note from your child’s health care provider. Together plan ways to fit milk into snacks and meals your child eats there.
Your child counts on you for the bone-building nutrients in milk. Even if your child is lactose intolerant, you can fit milk products in!
You Can Help Your Child Enjoy Milk. It’s Easy, Try This!
- Serve milk with solid foods: snacks, as well as meals. Solid foods slow digestion, so lactose in milk is easier to handle. Tip: These snacks taste good with milk: an oatmeal cookie, cereal, and a banana. Give your child choices.
- Pour small cups of milk. Little amounts are easier to digest. Tip: Be sure your child gets enough to equal at least 2 cups of milk during the day.
- Offer chocolate milk. It contains the same nutrients as white milk. But kids like chocolate milk and may be more willing to drink it.
- Buy lactose-free milk. Tip: Find it in supermarkets with other milk products.
- Offer cheese. Cheese has milk’s nutrients, but less lactose. Tip: Try simple “cheesy” foods: toasted cheese sandwich, macaroni and cheese, cheese and crackers.
- Try yogurt. “Friendly” bacteria that give yogurt its unique flavor also help digest lactose. Yogurt has all of milk’s nutrients, too. Tip: Offer fruit yogurt as a dip for sliced fruit. Your child may like fruit smoothies (made with yogurt), too.
For You, Too!
If you’re lactose intolerant, these tips can help you, too. Remember, your bones need calcium that milk provides to stay strong and healthy.
Nibbles for Health Nutrition Newsletter for Parents of Young Children, USDA, Food and Nutrition Service
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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