How often should my child be eating dairy?

Dairy products are an important element of the diet because they supply a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin D.

How often should my child be eating dairy?
 Adequate dairy intake of dairy is important for children.

Are you wondering whether your child is getting enough dairy in the daily diet?

The South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines recognises dairy products as being an essential part of a balanced diet for kids and recommend that milk, maas, or yoghurt be eaten every day.

Nutritionist, researcher, and Ph.D. candidate at UNISA’s Life and Consumer Sciences Department Lebogang Matshego-Roda notes that yoghurt may play an important role in addressing the nutrition gap of South African children – missing nutrients include calcium, vitamins A and D as well as the B vitamins.

Boys and girls ages four to eight need 2.5 cups of dairy products per day, while children ages nine to 18 need three cups per day. Meeting this goal should not be hard given that there are many forms of dairy.

Yoghurt’s health benefits for children

As parents, we always look for something that is convenient to serve, tasty for kids, and packed with healthy vitamins to keep our little one growing. Yoghurt is made with both milk and live cultures, which have been proven to assist in creating a healthy gut and a better digestive environment. It also contains calcium and protein, naturally coming from milk.

How to encourage your child to eat yogurt

If your little one is not already a yoghurt eater, creative parenting expert Nikki Bush has some excellent tips on how to introduce this to her diet.

  • Because yoghurt is so versatile it can be a fun food – use it as a dip for fruit, vegetables, and pita breads.
  • Dish a small portion onto the plate alongside a food they like. Keep doing this – research shows parents give up after five tries of exposing their children to new food, but children need up to 15 introductions before they accept and enjoy it.
  • Use yoghurt to create funny faces on a plate.
  • Involve your child in the preparation of food – shop together and let them choose their favourite fruits – then make yoghurt fruit smoothies or frozen yoghurt ice lollies together.
  • Small yoghurt pots are so easy to pack into their lunch boxes, and how about a tzatziki dip and pita bread for a fun change? You could also serve yoghurt as dessert.