How Much Milk Should a 1-Year-Old Drink?

It’s an exciting milestone when your little one turns 1 – they’re not a baby anymore! As your child grows and develops new abilities like walking and talking, their nutritional needs change too. One question many parents have is how much milk a 1-year-old should drink each day. Read on for a complete guide to milk and dairy intake for 1-year-olds in the UK.

Why Milk Matters

Milk is nutritionally dense, offering protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other key nutrients. According to the NHS, whole milk is an important part of a 1-year-old’s diet. Milk helps support development of bones and teeth, provides energy for growth, and supplies B vitamins for releasing energy from food. Clearly, milk gives your tot essential nourishment.

How Much Per Day?

Great question! The NHS recommends around 350-500ml (12-18oz) of whole cow’s milk per day for 1-year-olds. That equates to roughly 2-3 cups. This amount provides adequate nutrition without being excessive. Cow’s milk is high in protein and saturated fats, so too much can put strain on little kidneys. Sticking to 2-3 cups daily is sufficient.

The key is offering milk throughout the day across meals and snacks. You can serve 100ml with breakfast, another 100ml at lunchtime, and 150ml at dinner. Then perhaps 100ml as an afternoon snack. Splitting up milk feeds ensures your child meets their daily needs.

From Formula to Cow’s Milk

Up until 1 year, your baby has likely had formula or breastmilk. The NHS advises switching to whole cow’s milk at 12 months old because it contains less iron than formula, which babies 6-12 months require. Formula and breastmilk also have different nutrient ratios than cow’s milk.

The change may take some adjusting as cow’s milk tastes different! Transition gradually over 7-10 days by swapping one feed per day with a cow’s milk bottle or cup. Take your time with this adjustment based on your little one’s preferences.

What About Other Dairy Foods?

Luckily for parents, milk isn’t the only dairy option to provide calcium and protein! Yogurt is a great complementary food at 1 year old containing probiotics for gut health. Custards, fromage frais, and cheese, like cheddar, cottage, or mozzarella, also count. These foods can make up part of the 350-500ml daily recommendation.

A healthy target is 2-3 portions of dairy foods per day. One portion equals:

  • 30g cheese (matchbox-sized)
  • 125ml yoghurt
  • 40g fromage frais

Aim to include a variety of dairy products, not just milk, as your 1-year-old’s tastes expand. Just watch the added sugar content in flavoured yoghurts and limit to one small fromage frais per day.

What If My Child Won’t Drink Milk?

It’s common for toddlers to turn their noses up at milk, especially when transitioning from formula. Don’t worry! Try these tips if your 1-year-old refuses milk:

  • Mix whole milk with water or well-diluted juice
  • Heat milk to lukewarm – cold from the fridge can taste unpleasant
  • Make a smoothie with milk, banana, and a dash of vanilla or honey
  • Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa powder to warm milk
  • Put milk in a fun open cup or straw bottle
  • Offer milk at mealtimes instead of as a stand-alone drink

If your child still won’t take cow’s milk after 10-14 days, speak to your health visitor. They can review your toddler’s diet to ensure they get enough calcium and protein. With patience and creativity, you can find ways to make milk more appealing!

The Takeaway on 1-Year-Old Milk Intake

To recap, here are the key milk guidelines from the NHS for 1-year-olds:

  • 350-500ml whole cow’s milk daily
  • 2-3 portions of dairy foods like yogurt and cheese
  • Transition from formula/breastmilk over 7-10 days
  • Offer milk at meals and snacks in age-appropriate cups
  • Get creative if your toddler refuses milk

As your baby becomes a toddler, milk remains a primary source of fat, protein and calcium. Aim for 2-3 cups of milk per day alongside other dairy products to support growth and bone health. Chat to your health visitor if you have any concerns. Otherwise, relax and take comfort knowing milk provides the nutrition your 1-year-old needs!