Various studies delve into the many benefits of drinking milk especially in kids. Milk provides essential nutrients like Vitamins A, D, B12, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc that a growing child needs to help in his development. In fact, according to studies by the Environ International Corp., the University of Vermont, and the National Dairy Council, kids who regularly drink milk have “superior overall nutrient intake” versus those who don’t. Drinking milk also ensures your child develops stronger bones (thanks to its calcium content), thereby decreasing the risk of osteoporosis later on in life, as pointed out by health.clevelandclinic.org. The website also states that the U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends a 1,000-mg calcium intake for kids aged four to eight years old.
But how do you make milk drinking a habit for your kids, especially for those who are picky eaters? Check out these tips to make the ritual less fussy and more fun.
Create a schedule and stick to it. According to livescience.com, “Keeping to a regular meal and snack time schedule discourages kids from grazing throughout the day, or becoming too hungry in between meals, which can cause them to compensate by overeating later.” Geodetic engineer Gina Milarion, 39, a mom of three, makes drinking milk a part of her kids’ bedtime ritual. “It is good to time it just before going to sleep so that they get used to it, then they wouldn't be able to sleep without it,” she says. Ellen Santos*, 38, a former school teacher and now a full-time homemaker, also makes it a point that her four-year-old daughter Jiana* drinks a glass three to four times a day, “starting in the morning and in between meals until before bedtime.”
Pair a glass with other healthy food. When Jiana was transitioning from formula milk to growing-up milk, Ellen made it easier for her daughter to adapt by adding a little chocolate syrup to a glass of milk for a more flavorful and attractive taste. “During breakfast, I give her her favorite cereals to munch on while she drinks her milk,” adds Ellen.
“Cereal with milk is the best!” echoes Karina Eustacio*, 39, an entrepreneur and a mom to 10-year-old Liam, whom she says still loves drinking milk. Karina says Liam easily transitioned to growing-up milk when he was between four to five years old. Still, she and her husband made sure their son didn’t outgrow this good habit by shaking things up. She narrates, “Even if he wasn’t fussy with milk, we offered him a rotation of grilled cheese sandwich, cupcakes, cereals, and cookies to avoid being bored with just one type of pairing.”
Explain to them why they need to drink milk. Insurance advisor Sheryl Tan, 37, is mom to seven-year-old Yumi and six-year-old Coco. She shares that she and her yaya sit her kids down to tell them why it’s important to regularly drink milk. Sheryl says about Yumi, “We just talked to her to set expectations when was she transitioning to drinking her milk from the glass. No reward or tricks employed. We just told her that it is part of growing up.”
Livescience.com backs up what Sheryl did: explain to kids why they should choose healthy drinks like milk and avoid those that won’t do them good. “While tweens and teenagers may be aware of which unhealthy foods are packed with calories, they may be oblivious to how many empty calories they consume daily from sugary drinks. Make tweens and teens aware of how many empty calories are in their favorite unhealthy drinks.” The website further stresses the importance of helping kids form a “healthy liquid calorie habit” at an early age so they won’t fall into the trap of grabbing sugary drinks and other unhealthy alternatives.
Make drinking milk a fun activity. Make the habit more appealing by using fun drinking accessories. “Serve milk in a favorite cup, use a fun straw, or try a sports bottle with a pull-up spout. Your child may wish to have a special container for use only with milk,” cites CNN Health.
Feel free to also incorporate exciting activities. Ellen, for instance, throws in some mom-and-daughter bonding session. “At night we look at pictures and read books or reflect on and talk about the events of our day,” she shares. Meanwhile, Karina rewards Liam with a few minutes of gadget time as soon as he finishes his glass.
Let kids choose. CNN Health also encourages giving kids a say on what they would like to eat or drink, but be sure to take control over those choices. “At mealtimes and snacks, make milk the beverage of choice by asking if she'd rather have white milk or chocolate (or strawberry) milk… You can also control the amount of flavoring that goes into the milk and gradually decrease it to limit the added sugar.” Doing so gives your kids a sense of independence, which they will appreciate.
Set a good example. Walking the talk is one of the best ways to encourage kids to finish their glass of milk. Karina relates, “I make sure that Liam sees me drink milk as well… He’s now ten, and he still drinks his milk even without tricks or rewards.”
Gina, Sheryl, Ellen, and Karina all attest to the benefits of drinking milk as seen in their kids. “When you religiously incorporate milk in their diet, it makes their teeth and bones strong. Yumi and Coco have no cavities, and they've never experienced tooth extraction due to cavities until today. Also, I believe that drinking milk has helped them to have good skin,” Sheryl proudly narrates.
Ellen shares the same pride. “I can see that my child's body is sturdier and stronger because of drinking milk many times every day, and she has a positive disposition and self-image because I know she feels full, healthy, and strong, both in mind and body.”