How to Get My 18Month Old Boy to Drink Milk (Still Breasfeeding)

Updated on March 26, 2008
N.M. asks from Hartford, CT
34 answers

hello,
i have a beautiful, healthy, smart 18th month old boy that refuses to drink regular/whole milk. (he eats everything solids) Since January i started to mix breastmilk with whole milk (some cereal/oatmeal added) in his bottles during the day (at the babysitters). He had a tough time digesting it, he had runny poop for 2months! we are now down to only 3oz of breastmilk -- it's going better, but he only drinks these bottles for the babysitter!! at home is just breastmilk, we have tried a cup, but he only accepts juice or water in the cup. we also tried mixing it with chocolate but he hated it! lol. we tried strawberry milk, he like it better but not crazy about it either. I'm still pumping at work -- but I need to stop! any suggestions?

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So What Happened?

wow! thanks to all that responded, it was all very informative &helpful. I tried the goat milk, but my son just was not too interested. I tried soymilk "Nature's Organic soymilk" from Stop & shop & he loved it. we started him this week on it, & the past two nights he slept "without pain" thru the nite. what a relief. thank you all so much. God Bless.

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G.M.

answers from Boston on

Any reason why he needs 'regular' cow's milk in his diet? You could just cut out the daytime breastmilk bottles and keep breastfeeding him when you are home. At 18 months, he should be OK with just nursing morning and evening. If you are worried about vitamin D, just make sure he's getting enough sunlight exposure (this is just the right time of year for you!). If you are concerned about calcium, just up his intake of yoghurt (plain or mixed with stewed fruit) and cheese.

Also try goat's milk, which is MUCH better for humans than cow's milk is. I know that Kathy V, a regular Mamasource poster, is really well-versed about this, so get in touch with her.

I would respectfully urge you not to give a child that young any flavoured milk. It's full of sugar or, worse, high fructose corn syrup, and any benefits of milk would be lost in the negative impact of that much sugar.

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K.W.

answers from Boston on

Hi,
We had somewhat of a similiar situation and we found that my 2 year old has a sensitivity to milk products, she's been this way since 13 months. We will get her tested for full allergies when she's a bit older. She has always refused milk and has some problems with hard cheeses (like cheddar) and processed milk products (like Kraft mac'n cheese)but was fine with breast milk and later fine with formula. So under the doctors advisement we don't give her milk, they also said her refusement of it is her way of letting us know it doesn't feel right. We make sure she gets her calcium for fortified orange juice and she is fine with the lower lactose foods like: yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese sticks because they are made with mozzararella which is a low lactose food.
hope this helps!

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T.G.

answers from Bangor on

N.,

I know they really stress whole milk at that age, but neither of my kids wanted it after nursing. Personally, I hate it so I can understand why they do too. Try to get him to drink 2% or even lower if he will drink it. He can get the fat needs from other dairy products like cheese, yogurt, or ice cream. If he will drink any milk it is better than none. Our pediatrician said not to be concerned.

Hope that helps,
T.
Mom to 2 healthy beautiful children

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S.J.

answers from Hartford on

You said he had a tough time digesting milk. Perhaps he is allergic or lactose intolerant. That may be why he is refusing it. There is absolutely no reason he needs to have cow's milk. There is nothing in milk that you can't make sure he gets through his diet. If you are worried about vitamin D, just make sure her gets some sun (before 10AM and after 3PM) during the day. You can also try giving him yogurt. Some people who are intolerant to milk can eat yogurt. Yogurt is a great food and it is also good for digestion.

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A.M.

answers from Hartford on

Hi N.,

My mom had the exact same problem with me. I nursed great, but wanted absolutely nothing to do with cow's milk of any kind. My pediatrician back then told her that human milk is for baby humans and cow milk is for baby cows---not to worry. So, she would mix the milk into recipes for solid food to get what I needed and then I eventually got the same nutrients for other foods. To this day I do not drink milk. Hope this helps you to not worry too much.

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K.D.

answers from Boston on

My 2 year old daughter doesn't like milk. (I don't really care for it either) Let him eat cheese, yogurt, those yogurt drinks, broccoli, all good sources of calcium. I make oatmeal with milk and she eats cold cereal with milk. They even add calcium to orange juice and other juices.

I breast fed my daughter until the day before she turned 16 months and my doctor said as long as she's getting calcium she doesn't have to drink milk.

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R.F.

answers from Boston on

Have you thought about a dairy allergy?? I would definitely try him on rice milk and see what happens. I know from experience that it makes a world of difference. When my youngest son (now 14 y/o)was your son's age he was only in the 5th percentile for his age group. We had a couple of ear infections and he always had runny poop. I didn't think much about that since he was still nursing but after stumbling across an article on dairy allergy I added up his symptoms and took the dairy out of his diet. What a change!!! He started sleeping better, gaining weight, and eating like there's no tomorrow!!! Children are much better at listening to their bodies that we grown ups are and they won't eat something that makes them feel bad when they know better options are available (nursing when he's around you). He probably only drinks the bottle for the sitter because he knows he doesn't have any other choice. Good luck! I hope this helps.

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S.A.

answers from Rochester on

Hi N.,

My son was the same way about milk when I tried introducing it, and then later I learned he had a wheat and DAIRY intolerance. No wonder he didn't want it!! I was taking him to both a "regular" pediatrician as well as to a naturopathic pediatrician and both told me I need not worry about the milk if he was getting the nutrition from other sources. For me, he would get a lot of that from his green veggies. I'm lucky and he LOVES them - specifically broccoli. Also, if I remember correctly, avacado is another one that is comparable nutritionally to milk. And I'm wondering if you don't need to pump at work anymore, but can still continue to breastfeed at home? Maybe that would take some of the "stress" of thinking he needs to drink the (cows)milk off, if you realize that he can supplement its nutritional value with other venues and you would still be able to produce milk if he nursed in the morning when he got up (or before you had to leave for work) and before bed. You won't "run out of milk" doing it that way. I nursed mine until he was about that age and that's how the routine naturally progressed and I still had plenty of milk in me, if you will... and probably would have continued to nurse for a little longer but he weaned himself when I became pregnant with our second.

Good luck, and I wouldn't worry! My boy only just now started to drink milk here and there (it was only an early intolerance that around 2 years old we reintroduced foods one at a time and discovered there was no more negative digestive reaction). My nephew is the same age and drinks LOADS of milk throughout the day so I was thinking I should start pushing it again, but both doctors assured me that he doesn't need as much as that and if he drinks it, great, and if not, make sure he gets the calcium, etc through other sources.

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A.S.

answers from Boston on

Try goat's milk. It's the closest thing to human milk and makes a great transition. My son drank it for about four months in between breast and cow's milk. You can find it at most health food dtores and some grocery stores.

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A.G.

answers from Boston on

Hi,

I have three children and have breastfed each of them for over one year, holding of on all dairy products and eggs till they were one year old. Each one of them took (or is taking, the youngest is 14 months - and I'm still nursing) time to accept milk. I had such difficulty with my second child that she even had a calcium and vitimin D deficiency, however not serious, until she was about 2 1/2. I realize I may be repeating a lot of what others have said, but maybe you'll still find one little piece of advice in my response that could help ( though I in no way think I'm an expert). First and most importantly, check for a milk allergy. If there is none, try alternate sources of calcium like cheese and yogurt. My youngest has yet to drink milk from a cup - he drinks a little and then pushes it away. Oatmeal and cornflakes or Cheerios have been successful, as well as crushed cookies in milk. Try sneaking it in to your dinners too. Our diet is very influenced by MIddle Eastern Food, so we actually eat a lot of rice with yogurt and even a cooked yogurt sauce with chicken or lamb. The kids take to it very well. And there are of, course the great American standards, mac and cheese (my kid's love Annie's, if not homemade) and lasagne. And I did try spiking the milk with Nesquik or a little black tea or instant coffee. I know this is really unorthodox and I at first refused, but a quarter of a teaspoon or less won't make that much of a difference in light of how important milk is. Last but not least, there is always pudding. A friend of mine's son weened himself from her milk at nine months and the ONLY thing with milk he would eat was pudding.

Good Luck.

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M.H.

answers from Hartford on

He may be allergic. Have you tried soy or rice milk? My son is allergic & Can't have milk- We have to see a nutritionalist & she says as long as the baby is getting enough fat for the brain, & you can get good calcium in other sources.

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A.B.

answers from Boston on

N., Sounds like he has a dairy intolerance. Both my daughters refused milk for a long time, turned out they knew what they were talking about. Both are lactose intolerant. They knew it wasn't good for them, but couldn't tell me! The big issue is to make sure they get calcium via some other source. You could try another type of milk like soy or almond or even goats milk. He could very well not like milk because it's hurting him!

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M.R.

answers from Burlington on

Hello N.
I am like you a mother of 3 beautifull childrens , but like your son , my dougther didnt want whole milk for any thing and talking to my dr. aboutthat he recomend me to try soy milk , and that was the solution for me , now my douther is 22 years old , super healthy and still dont like whole milk and still love soy milk , is a lot diferents brands out there . I recomend you SILK is really good and better than whole milk

Isabel R.
###-###-####
www.shaklee.net/M.

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B.M.

answers from Boston on

my son gets terrible diarrhea from cow milk so he drinks goat milk and he does great with it.

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N.M.

answers from New York on

Breast milk is already filtered through your body, making it easier for babies to digest. Before you go through trying soy, rice or goat milk, why not try lactaid milk. It is easier to find in a store, and easier to digest. Your son might be lactose intolerant, after that I would consult your pediatrician, he may have a milk allergy. He may not like the milk because he associates it the unpleasant feeling in his stomach that causes the loose poops. Also, he can get his calcium from yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, even brocolli. Look for other sources of calcium until you find a way to get him to accept milk.

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H.A.

answers from Hartford on

Hi N.-
Why try to get this boy to drink cow's milk? I have been vegan for years and don't really believe there is any need to drink milk. there has been strong lobbying by the milk and dairy products industry, but bodies function very well w/o it.Many, many people are lactose intolerant and many cultures do not use milk or dairy....the protein molecule in cow's milk is huge in comparison to human milk.... we are so different from cows.... i don't mean to sound rude- these are very personal and touchy subjects- I am the grand daughter of a dairy farmer!!!! but maybe your son has some good body wisdom- milk works for some and does not for others- i get heart burn and it is not pretty, my brother IBS....I encourage you do find some resources to help you. At first it may seem impossible to get proper calcium w/o milk but it is really not when you know what calcium rich foods are available.... also, my brother vomited terribly as an infanct w/ milk, so my mom gave him goat's milk which is much more like human milk and more easily digested- he did better with that.... good luck to you and hope you are not offended.
Heidi

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J.T.

answers from Burlington on

WOW, what a response. This is a very common problem. My son is now 21 months old and I discovered the same problem. Since we've switched to Silk "milk" (vanilla flavored) My son has had little digestive issues and no more ear infections! Soy milk has changed our story and it's much healthier for him especially if you buy the one enhanced with Omega 3's.

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C.P.

answers from Hartford on

Why do you want him to drink cow's milk? If he's still breastfeeding (on demand), he gets everything he needs from that. Cow's milk is VERY difficult to digest, and his body just isn't ready for it. I'd hold off if I were you - Maybe try Rice milk, that is VERY yummy & easy to digest, if you want something nutritious besides breastmilk.

My husband, daughter & I are all Lactose-intolerant, so when my now-six yr old was done breastfeeding, we just went right to soymilk & rice milk. We don't miss it - I haven't had cow's milk in MANY years, and my daughter certainly doesn't miss it. She's VERY healthy & happy, and enjoys her drink choices. :)

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M.L.

answers from Providence on

I agree with the others. He doesn't need cow milk in his diet.

As long as he'll eat cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products milk doesn't need to be one of them.

At 18 months, most of his nutrition should be from solid foods, and not from his beverages. If he eats a varied diet, drinking just water all day should provide him enough to give him everything he needs.

Also, I'd stop giving him a bottle altogether. He should be using a cup all the time now.

Good luck!

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J.M.

answers from Hartford on

Our daughter has never liked cow milk, although she still enjoys mommy's milk at almost 2 years old. We supplement her dairy/protein with yogurt and cheese. I haven't heard any complaints from her doctor and she loves it! Good luck.

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J.O.

answers from Boston on

Get him a vitamin with calcium. If he will eat them many veggies have calcium (ask your Dr or search online to find out which ones) With the extended tummy trouble he may be lactose intollerant. Spelled wrong I'm sure. If he goes outside and gets calcuim from another source he wont be missing out on any real nutrition if he doesn't drink milk.

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J.G.

answers from Providence on

I would try soy milk and then make sure he gets lots of yogurt and cheese in his diet. My kids didn't take to drinking milk until they were three or four. Not sure why, but they do like it now. I wouldn't get into the sugary milks.

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M.C.

answers from Boston on

Have you tried other milks like rice milk or almond milk?
Also, he doesn't HAVE to drink milk to be healthy. Lots of kids are dairy free - just have to ensure he gets plenty of protein and nutrients from other healthy foods.

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G.V.

answers from New London on

I remember reading somewhere that a mother put band aids on her breasts and told the child that she had a boo-boo (which was true, it wasn't a lie, she was sore from breastfeeding!) so she told him that he had to drink out of a cup. In two days, she kept telling him this and then the child was weaned and the mother was happy. I then told a friend of mine this story and it worked for her and her son!

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E.D.

answers from Boston on

Hi,

I had the same problem back in 1996, when my now 11 year

old was a baby. I tried every milk and he did not like

it. So I got created and started feeding him with goat's

milk. It is found in Living Earth, on Chandler Street,

Worcester, MA. He drink Goat's Milk for a while and then

I started giving him Rice Milk also. You may find Rice

Milk in Living Earth or Trader Joe's. I am only giving

you an advise based on an experience that I had, but you m

may consult your GYN/Primary Care Physician/Pediatrician

prior to trying an procedure. Again, I wish

you "good luck" in getting your 18months old boy to

drink milk. Have a Blessed Day!

Mrs. E. G. Deranmie
Auburn, MA

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S.P.

answers from New London on

First, you said he had loose poop for two months. It sounds like this is in the past and he is now taking whole milk from the babysitter. If so, he has probably gotten the digestive enzymes to breakdown milk and it is more an issue of prefering your milk to cow's milk. I have breastfed all 5 of my kids. The fourth didn't want to accept milk either when I weaned her at 16 mo. My pediatrician told me to give her one cup of juice at breakfast, but to only offer milk thereafter. As long as I got one wet diaper a day, I was not to worry about dehydration. She was very stubborn, and I worried a lot, but 3 days later she gave in and drank milk from a sippy cup thereafter without any further trouble. She prefered a sippy cup to the bottle. As you said, Nelson is smart, and he's figured out he can get what he wants from you, although not from the babysitter. Be loving, but firm.

- S.

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K.A.

answers from Boston on

Hi N.!
I nursed both my girls for 18mo.and for whatever reason they never took a bottle.Heating the milk up was the only way they would take milk-I tried everything.I would warm the milk for about 35 seconds and put it in a sippy cup (NUBY) the nipple is really soft on these cups so they LOVED it after a while.Try the same time of day also-just so he knows it's time for milk.Don't worry too much about because if he's getting cheese, yogurt and other dairy it counts as a serving.
Best of luck and enjoy!

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D.R.

answers from Boston on

My son was the same...the MD said don't worry...milk is not vital at that age....he drank water, and that was just fine...I did have better luck offering him soy milk, so I did that to make myself feel better....He is 8 now, and still doesn't drink milk (just like Mom!)

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S.S.

answers from Boston on

Hi N.,

My youngest is a 21 month old little guy who also refused whole milk in preference to breast milk and juice. He has weaned in the last mont, but what I tried was 1/2 vanilla soy milk and 1/2 whole cows milk, and slowly lessened the amount of soy milk. He was down to almost all whole milk and then refused it altogether. So, back to square one.

I then tried him with Chocolate Ovaltine - he loves it, I only put one teaspoon (or so) in, not the reconmeded 4 tablespoons. He requests it now and drinks two cups/day. Don't give up. I breastfed all three of my children (the first until 2, the second until 2 and the third until 21 months) and I am convinced that children that breastfeed just do not like the taste of cows milk. My two oldest will not drink plain milk (only with Ovaltine in it) - they do not like the flavor. But now when I ask him if he wants juice or chocolate milk, he usually says "milk". Try it, he may like it.

Good Luck!

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R.D.

answers from Boston on

Maybe he has a hard time digesting dairy products. All 4 of my children had to go on soy formula and then soy milk. Around the age of 2 they started back on milk and were fine.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

Way to go in continuing to breastfeed - that's awesome! I can see your dilemma. You could try soymilk or ricemilk as an option. Soymilk has just as much calcium and vitamin D as dairy milk, plus more protein and it's easier to digest. At this point, it sounds as though you're up for trying anything. Good luck - I hope he transitions soon.

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K.A.

answers from Barnstable on

N.,

I am a Nutritional Microscopist,someone who studies the body at a cellular level and uses a holistic approach to health. In my experience, animal protein, including milk, eggs and cheese are not easily digested by toddlers or adults. These foods contain high bacteria and mold counts that can cause various symptoms including diarrhea and upset stomach. I believe that we should be getting our calcium the same way that a cow gets hers....greens! There is a high amount of calcium in all green vegetables including kale, broccoli, spinach and asparagus. Avocados, a fruit, are a great source of good fats and protein for kids and can be made into smoothies, pudding and popsicles. Breast milk is the perfect food for infants and I say you can keep breast feeding until 24 months. Your sons reaction to cow's milk is a perfectly normal reaction. His body knows best what it needs. If you feel you must give him a "milk" product stick to rice, almond or soy without sugar added if you can. Otherwise, just make sure you give him plenty of good water, raw green veggies, low sugar fruits and good fats, which you can add to his meals. These include cold-pressed oils such as avocado, flax, hemp and olive, to name a few.
If you would like to talk more, feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com

Best of luck.

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T.M.

answers from Providence on

HI N. -

Have you tasted your breast milk ? It is very sweet and I would guess your little guy smells you therefore wants you -

try having the baby sitter give milk but have a pillow of the night shirt you wore the night before wrapped around hime - close enought to smell.

With regular milk - try adding a bit of butter and sugar to make it sweet.

GOOD LUCK !

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C.B.

answers from Boston on

I would just stop giving him the breastmilk...as long as he is drinkng juice and water and eating foods, he'll be fine. He will drink the milk when he is ready. Also, it may be a good time to stop the bottle too. When switching to a cup, they all slow down their milk consumption, then it picks up again...but, they also don't need as much as they get older. Good luck!

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