As soon as a baby is born, mothers who choose to breastfeed are able to provide milk for their child. Even baby formulas which are used by those who cannot or prefer not to breastfeed are made to approximate mother’s milk. When your child gets older, what do you do if they decide not to drink milk or can’t drink it because of lactose intolerance?

There are many reasons why a child may not drink cow’s milk. They may be allergic to it, they may have parents who live a vegan lifestyle which means they don’t use animal products at all, they may be lactose intolerant, or they may simply dislike the taste of it. No matter the reason for not drinking it, children are able to get the vitamins and calcium they need from other sources.

Many children who are lactose intolerant are able to use milk alternatives. These would include goat’s milk, soy milk, or rice milk. As long as the milk alternative is fortified with vitamin D, vitamin A, and calcium, there shouldn’t be any problems. For small children, ensure the milk is whole-fat because fat is important for a child’s brain development.

Soy milk, much like cow’s or goat’s milk, contains protein. This isn’t the case with rice milk, however. It doesn’t have as much protein, so you’ll want to ensure your child gets plenty of protein in other foods. Rice and soy milk also don’t have the vitamin B12 found in animal milk.

What nutrients can you expect a child to get from one serving, eight ounces, of milk?

* 8 grams of protein
* 11 grams of carbohydrates in the form of lactose
* Up to 8 grams of fat depending upon the type of milk you drink
* 300 milligrams of calcium, which is 35% of a child’s recommended daily allowance
* 50% of a child’s daily requirement of Vitamin B2
* 30% of a child’s daily requirement of Vitamin B12
* 25% of the requirement for Vitamin D
* 10% of the requirement for Vitamin A

Milk is most well known for the amount of calcium in provides. Calcium is important to build strong bones and teeth. As your child grows, their need for calcium changes. You can expect toddlers 1-3 years to need about 500 milligrams each day; preschoolers (4-8 years) need about 800 milligrams, and children 9-18 need about 1300 milligrams.

If your child doesn’t like milk or is allergic, they can get calcium from white beans, instant oatmeal, broccoli, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified orange juice, and sweet potatoes. You can also find vitamin supplements for all of the nutrients a child can get from milk. Allowing your child to spend time outside in the sunshine will also provide some of the Vitamin D your child needs.

If you expect your child to love milk and they either don’t like it or can’t drink it, you may be concerned about their health. When you’re wondering what to do if your child doesn’t drink milk, know there are alternatives to get the vitamins and minerals your child needs from other sources.