Food & Health

Questions about Milk

A mother posted a question in the forum recently. She was asking what the recommended milk intake is for a toddler. I was thinking something like 500ml, but I wasn’t sure. So, I googled for the answer and here are my findings:

What is the ideal milk intake?

According to the guidelines stated in Dumex website, a toddler (1-3 years old) needs a minimum of 350ml of milk but not exceeding 600ml so that they don’t fill up too much.

The Health Promotion Board recommends that children between 3 to 6 years old consume 500ml of milk each day. Milk is a great source of important nutrients essential for keeping our toddlers healthy and most importantly calcium for strong bones and teeth.

So, I’m right. It’s 500ml!

But not too much!

Excessive cow’s milk can cause an imbalance in two ways. Firstly, it is high in energy (calories). Secondly, it contains a lot of calcium. This energy-dense milk can fill a little tummy quickly. As a result, they might turn away from meals and thereby causing them to become deficient in other nutrients. Too much calcium can also interfere with iron absorption, which in turn has been link to fussy eating. Finally, too much milk can increase the risk of tooth decay due to milk sugars. (Information depicted from Huggies website)

Argh! This is so tricky. When Little Edison refuses to take his meal, we usually supplement him with milk so that he won’t go hungry. But when he drinks more milk, he becomes full and his next meal may be affected again. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation.

Anyway, the above information really shed new light on Little Edison’s fussy eating behavior. Perhaps, he has been overfilling with milk or he is low in iron due to too much calcium.

What is the RDI of Calcium anyway?

The recommended daily allowance (RDI) of calcium for children between 1–3 years is 400-500mg. When I take a look at Pediasure that Little Edison is taking, one feed of 225ml has 212mg of calcium. So, just two feeds (450ml) provide 424mg of calcium. Obviously, with three feeds, it will exceed the RDI. Not forgetting other calcium-rich food that he is taking, such as cheese and yoghurt, I realized that he has over-reached his calcium needs.

Let’s do a change now!

I’m going to reduce Pediasure to two feeds per day and supplement with one feed of fresh milk. I’ll do the math again now.

  • With three feeds of Pediasure, he gets 636mg of Calcium and 2775kcal of energy! The recommended daily allowance is only 1550kcal. No wonder Little Edison has so much energy and never gets tired.
  • With two feeds of Pediasure and one feed of Meiji fresh milk, he gets 636mg of Calcium and 2024kcal. Meiji fresh milk has the same amount of calcium as Pediasure but much lesser in calories. Obviously, this option is much better.

I hope my analysis is correct!

What’s the difference between low-fat, fat-free and full-cream milk? I’m confused.

Low-fat milk (which contain just 1% milk) should not be given to children under 2 years old. Fat-free milk and skim milk (0.1% fat) aren’t suitable for children under the age of 5. These types of milk are products for adults who are concerned about their fat intake. They don’t contain the right amount of protein or healthy fats that our children need.

Full-cream milk is whole milk – milk that has had its cream blended in and homogenized, not milk that has been separated from its cream and sold as low-fat, skim or reduced fat. Whole milk is about 3.5% milk fat. This is the right one for Little Edison!

Useful Information

I strongly recommend that you download the booklet “Birth to Eighteen Years: Dietary Tips for Your Child’s Wellbeing” from the Health Promotion Board’s website. It provides many useful tips on how to help our child approach a healthy and balanced approach to food. There is also a recommended dietary guideline for children from different age groups.

Let’s download it and have a good read today! And that’s the end of my super long post today.


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hi, thanks for sharing this useful information. My gal is 2.5 yrs now and since she hit 2, we received the go ahead from the PD to give her low fat milk. She’s not a fussy eater and takes a balanced diet, not all the time but at least most of the time. You mentioned that low fat is not suitable for under 5? Coz that’s quite contrary to what I’ve googled before, that kids MAY switch to low fat after 2. I believe that is based on the understanding that the kid is not a fussy eater and is… Read more »


gees.. im confused missy 32 month old going to 33 month old.. is taking 3 feeds of Gain IQ daily. morning, aftrnoon and night. each time 240ml. so how much calsium she has consumed ? too much ? she eats her rice(vege/fish/meat/soup) daily and she eats her fruits daily. is that mean her calsium intake is too much ? she too has loads of energy ..


hi Emily, don’t worry about it. we are all here to learn and share. Keep blogging! 🙂