Is My Toddler Drinking Too Much Milk? Can It Be Bad for Her?

Updated on August 29, 2009
T.L. asks from San Francisco, CA
15 answers

My 20 month old daughter is a picky eater but she loves her milk, or maybe she just loves her bottle. I started to wean my older daughter at 18 months and I had planned to do the same with my little one but we have not been able to start. Her grandma, who watches her during the day says that when her cousin, only 10months old has her milk, my daughter will ask for it too so she gives it to her 3 times a day in a bottle. Each bottle is about 8oz. I use the playtex drop ins so I think it might be just a tad less than 8. She also has a bottle in the morning when she wakes and at night before bedtime, already totally a daily allowance of 40 oz. On occassions if she wakes in the night, my husband might give her a bottle, I dont like to do this myself though. 48 oz in a day sounds like an awful lot to me. Is this amount of milk consumption bad for her? We dont use milk to replace meals but we might use it to supplement if she refuses to each more than a couple of spoonful of her meal after numerous attempts and varieties that are offered to her...

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answers from Sacramento on

Hi T.,

Just a quick warning, a friend of mine just spent three days at home from work because his 2 year old daughter spent the weekend in the hospital with milk induced enemia. She had to have 4 blood tranfusions because she was so enemic and it was because of the milk and other dairy products she was consuming. She is recovering nicely but cannot have any any dairy proteins for 6 months. They actually diagnosed her with "milk poisoning." There is a simple blood test to see if the child has milk induced enemia. I had never heard of it but as mentioned by a few other people it can be a very serious condition.


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answers from Sacramento on

Less milk should help her to increase her appetite for other foods. Be sure she gets all the liquid she needs by offering her a water break every hour or two during the day, or have a straw cup handy so she can get to it easily when she needs it.

I'm wondering if you are saying that you have not been able to start weaning from the bottle because the grandmother isn't cooperative. If that's the case, I think you need to sit down with grandma and have a good heart to heart talk. Explain to her what you want for your daughter and why you want to do it that way. Get her on your side in this. Your daughter needs to be learning that she is no longer a 10 month old like her cousin, and is growing up to do "big girl" things. Sometimes it helps to give them the idea that they are learning these things so they can in turn help the younger child learn later.



answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Catherine C. She will start eating more varied foods if you let her get hungry enough. And she also needs more variety of nutrition than what a diet of mostly milk with give her.

You could set up a routine of milk at particular times during the day, and the rest of the day fill her bottle with water and occasionally juice (I've always been told to limit juice to one cup a day). For example, offer milk first thing in the morning and at dinner. Offer juice at lunch, and offer water every other time during the day.

Just like when we have eating issues, if she doesn't want what's in the bottle, she doesn't have to drink it, but there isn't another choice. And don't worry if she seems to go a long time without eating/drinking in protest--she will not let herself *die* of hunger/thirst :). Eventually she will eat/drink what's given. I know it's hard on us moms, but sometimes our kids need us to be strong this way.

and ps--you might want to think about moving to a sippy cup soon.
Best wishes!



answers from San Francisco on

I heard from my ped that drinking too much milk could block the absorption of iron and can cause anemia. She said that my daughter shouldn't be drinking more than 24ozs a day. For me that's actually hard because my daughter loves milk too. I actually have to work hard to try and get my daughter to drink other thinks like water. Hope that helps.




answers from San Francisco on

Our pedi told us, when our daughter turned 1 that she should be getting 12 oz of milk (or cheese, yogurt, any dairy with calcium). I think too much milk can cause problems, but I'm not sure. However, I'm sure if you gave her less milk she would have a larger appetite and would be less picky. Even if you are not using it to replace meals, it's filling her up before meals. I would try to cut her to 12 oz a day and I would defiantly stop any night time feedings. She's almost 2 and I was told to stop night time feeds at 6 or 9 months.
I have my opinions on the bottle, but you will have to figure that out for yourself and your family.
Best of luck,


answers from Fresno on

Too much milk (or any kind of dairy) can cause really bad constipation in toddlers. I would try to give her water in a sippy cup during the day for the most part. I don't think she needs milk at night - that can cause cavities in her teeth. Again I would just give her water if she wakes up at night.

You may find that once she is drinking less milk, she will eat more during her meals. Toddlers are notorious for not wanting to eat anything they're offered - bottom line is, they will eat when they're hungry, and they will not starve themselves. By offering her milk afterward, you might be undermining yourself. She knows that she doesn't have to eat what's offered at dinner because she'll get a bottle of milk afterward. If you just give her a cup of water afterward, you can bet she'll return to the table and eat more of her dinner! =)



answers from San Francisco on

It does not sound like too much to me. My son would drink at least that much. What I did was transferred all the daytime milk into a sippy cup accept at naptime and bedtime.

He was willing to give up the bottle if it meant he was getting milk.

Good luck,




answers from Sacramento on

After 12 months, my doctor recommended no more than 12-16 oz of dairy a day, so 48 ounces sounds like way too much. My boy also loves his milk, but once I transitioned off his bottle, he didn't beg for it as much. I think he liked his bottle as much as the milk.

It's a good idea to transition off the bottle now since continued bottle use can cause orthodontic problems down the road. Without the bottle, she might not crave the milk as much.

As for reducing her milk intake, I recommend distracting her when she asks for it and only offer it at distinct times of the day. There are some tricks you can use for minimizing her milk intake--you can begin to water down the bottles that you would like to eliminate or you can offer her one ounce fewer in each bottle for a week and then decrease the amount again the second week. I think the most effective strategy, however, is to eliminate the bottle altogether. I would go cold turkey after you've spent a few days familiarizing her with a new sippy (I like the nuby sippy and it's quite similar to a bottle because it has a silicone spout).

You mentioned that your daughter is a picky eater. I wouldn't be surprised if that's because she's getting so many calories from milk (count them, you'll be amazed!!). If you aren't ready to reduce her milk intake, at least reduce the number of calories she gets from milk by using low fat or skim. She'll get the same nutrition without as many calories. That should help with her appetite.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

My twins were drinking sooo much milk and I got varied advice. Eventually I watered down the milk with filtered water so that they were still getting what they wanted, hydrated, and not so much sodium and all the other things in milk that could be a problem in such high doses. They never noticed and it worked for us through that transition time. Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

We had the same question several months ago and our pediatrician told us that milk interferes with iron absorption and that drinking too much milk can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. She recommended no more than 18 months a day for our very large (approx 34" and 32lb, 95% percentile for height and weight) son. Beyond than, she said that it was also keeping him from eating normal amounts of solid food at mealtime.

The good news is, it was easier than we thought it would be to cut back. We just substituted water for milk and explained that he could only have milk in the morning when he wakes up, before his nap and before bed. We now limit him to 6-8oz per sippy cup 3 times daily.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

YIKES!!!! At most she should be drinking 16 oz of milk each day and only 2-4 oz of juice each day. All of the milk is probably adding to her not wanting to eat. She should not be having a bottle at all, use a sippy cup or cup with a straw. Call your pediatrician and see if an anemia test is indicated.



answers from Chico on

That is a lot of milk, but my daughter was and still is a milk lover. As long as she is not drinking milk in place of meals, then it's not a huge problem. However, it does add extra calories.

First, try switching her to a SMALL sippy cup at least during the day while she is with her grandma and cousin. Make a BIG deal about it...take her out shopping for it. Let her know that she gets a special cup because she is a getting to be a big girl and bottles are for babies or sleepy time. At first, don't pull the morning and bedtime bottles unless she wants to use the sippy cup instead. Start offering the new cup right away on the weekend and ask Grandma to offer it during the day during the week. Also buy her a larger sippy cup in the same style that is for water only and start offering that to her.

If this does not work, start offering fewer ounces in the bottle or water only in the bottle during the day while offering the small sippy cup full of milk as an option. Good luck...they love their bottles and it's SO hard to wean them, but the earlier you start, the easier it will be.



answers from Sacramento on

Hi T.,

Sorry if I repeat anything anyone else has said... I don't have time right now to read all the responses. As far as the milk goes, she is getting too much. I agree with what someone else said... start by reducing the amount of milk given to her and then you can cut back on the # of bottles given to her. Also, try switching to a sippy cup (soft spout, non spill is GREAT). I do childcare and so far I've weaned 3 children off the bottle by using these sippy cups. They are non spill, so if they want to lay down and drink, they still can... just like a bottle... But they will get used to the sippy and then will take any sippy after awhile. Okay, back to the milk. I am on the food program for my daycare and they require that I offer milk at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Juice can be offered at snack time and water should be offered through out the day. Try to offer your daughter various things to eat.... and if she doesn't eat it, don't stress. It takes a number of times for a food to be introduced before children will even try it, but they WILL try it. If you have any questions about the foods/amounts the food program requires, let me know. It helps me to know how much of each a child should be offered and it may help you too. Good Luck.



answers from Chico on

Hi T.,
My daughter just had her 24 month check up last week. Her pediatrician told me that it's important to limit milk to 24oz per day because it can cause low iron.

Our little ones sure seem to do well with routine. If decreasing the # of bottles in a day isn't ideal right now try decreasing the amount to 5oz per bottle. Be patient with her during these changes. I would try only making one change at a time, probably decreasing the amount of milk she drinks first and then switching to a sippy cup. Follow your instincts, you know her best.

My cousin recently had the same situation with her 2yo son eating very little but drinking plenty of milk. She eventually got him to drink less milk and now he eats a better variety and doesn't skip meals. It took her a long time to get him to drink milk from anything other than a bottle.

Best Wishes, K.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi, T. L--

My family and I do not drink milk on a regular basis but we use it in different ways. We always get raw milk by Organic Pastures from a grocery store some 50 miles one way from home. When we run out, I have to buy goat milk from a local store. Unfortunately, the goat milk they carry is pasteurized. I stay away from pasteurized cow milk because with pasteurization all the nutrients in the milk have already been killed. Mike Adams calls it dead food.

Six 8-oz glasses of milk a day might be a little too much for a 20-month old. Attached below is an article about milk written by Barbara L. Minton, a school psychologist who calls herself a student of nature and all things natural.

Milk Protein Linked to Autism, Schizophrenia, Diabetes and Heart Disease

by Barbara L. Minton, citizen journalist
See all articles by this author
Email this author

(NaturalNews) Knowing about the health benefits of raw milk is not enough. In his book The Devil in the Milk, Dr. Kevin Woodford says we have one more lesson to learn: there is a link between the type of milk we drink and a range of serious illnesses, including heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. Epidemiological evidence from ten countries has demonstrated a strong association between high intake of milk from A1 positive cows and high incidence of these diseases, and has correlated very closely with World Health Organization data on the level of deaths from mental disorders.

Dr. Woodford, Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University in New Zealand, points out that milk consists of three parts: fat or cream, whey, and milk solids. The devil resides in the milk solids, composed of many different proteins along with lactose and other sugars. One of these proteins is beta casein.

All proteins are long chains of amino acids that have many branches coming off of the main chain. Beta casein is a chain with 229 amino acids and proline at number 67, at least in old fashioned cows, the ones that are A2. These include Guernseys, Jerseys, Asian and African cows. About five thousand years ago, a mutation occurred in this proline amino acid, converting it to histidine. Cows that have this mutated beta casein are the A1 cows. These are more recent breeds in the span of history, like Holsteins and Friesians.

The side chain coming off this histidine is a protein fragment known as beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM 7). The negative health effects of this fragment can be devastating because it is a powerful opiate or narcotic as well as an oxidant. Dr. Thomas Cowan has thought all along that something was "not quite right" on the milk issue. Writing for the Bovine, he says that many of his patients, in spite of trying to eat only the proper dairy products still have illnesses and are unable to tolerate milk. He has suspected "the story with milk wasn't quite finished."

In his attempt to finish the milk story, Woodford brings together a pile of evidence from more than 100 scientific papers examining population studies and research with both animals and humans. He explains the science underpinning the A1/A2 hypothesis and shows that BCM 7 is associated with milk intolerance and a range of auto-immune diseases including Type 1 diabetes, the diabetes that usually occurs during childhood or young adulthood. In people with Type 1 diabetes, the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells.

There is an important difference between the human beta casein protein and the beta-casein produced by A1 cows. All human beta-casein is more like the A2 type, meaning that human milk releases much less BCM 7 than is released in A1 milk. When New Zealand researchers tested human milk, they found less than 1% of the BCM 7 than was released from the same amount of A1 milk. This means that the narcotic effect from human milk fed to babies is less than one thousandth of that found in A1 milk.

BCM7 has been shown to cause neurological impairment in animals and people, particularly autistic and schizophrenic changes. It also interferes with the immune response. Animals injected with BCM 7 can be provoked into Type 1 diabetes. BCM 7 is pro-inflammatory to blood vessels, and selectively binds to epithelial cells in mucus membranes such as the nose and throat, where it can stimulate excessive mucus secretion.

When BCM 7 is released into the gut, it should be difficult for it to get through the gut wall and into the bloodstream because it is a fairly large molecule. But in people with leaky gut syndrome, it is able to pass easily through the gut wall and enter the bloodstream. Dr. Woodford states that BCM 7 can be detected in urine. According to him there is strong evidence that people with stomach ulcers or untreated celiac disease also absorb BCM 7 in this manner. Babies are likely to absorb it this way too, because their gut walls are able to pass large molecules easily into the blood stream. That is how they are able to absorb their mother's colostrum.

This susceptibility of babies to the effects BCM 7 makes infant milk formula products from A1 cows a very poor choice. Opioids like BCM 7 slow the rate of passage through the digestive tract which explains to Dr. Woodford why babies fed on cows milk formula products rather than human milk are susceptible to constipation and can suffer anal fissures. He suggests it is possible that this slower passage of A1 milk through the digestive system may increase lactose intolerance.

He views early and prolonged exposure to BCM 7 in infant formulas as a significant factor in the rising rates of autism and Asperger's syndrome along with the rest of the range of disease states that can result, and he is pushing for research on the topic. Until this is done, he suggests that mothers breastfeed their babies for as long as possible and insist on breast milk substitutes made with A2 milk.

The reasons for the mutation that produces BCM 7 is unknon, happening thousands of years ago. The A1 beta casein gene spread rapidly in many countries in the western world. Speculation has it that the spread of A1 cows resulted from their calves drinking A1 milk and being exposed to the opiate BCM 7, making them more docile than the older breeds. As a result, basically all American dairy cows have mutated beta-casein and are predominantly A1.

It is not known whether BCM 7 is likely to be a problem in cheese, ice-cream, yogurt, or other milk products. The French did not accept the A1 breeds of cows, and the delicious cheeses of France are made with A2 milk. In the U.S. there is only one A2 dairy so far, located in Firth, Nebraska.

Absorption of BCM 7 is much less in people with healthy digestive tracts, suggesting that maintaining digestive health should be a priority in anyone drinking milk in countries with predominately A1 cows. One of the best ways to achieve this is with daily use of probiotics.

What can we do about the fact that we have the wrong cows? BCM 7 is not found in goat's or sheep's milk which are A2, so drinking their milk instead of milk from cows is an option. Changing over a dairy herd of cows from A1 to A2 is simple and cheap, and it can be accomplished in less than ten years. It requires only that farmers inseminate their cows, naturally or artificially, with semen from A2A2 bulls. In New Zealand, farmers have already started converting their herds in anticipation of rising consumer demand for A2 milk. An added bonus for them is some recently published research revealing that on average New Zealand A2 cows produce more milk than A1 cows. Dairy farmers in the U.S. may be well advised to begin the switch to A2 as soon as possible to be able to market A2 milk products as consumer demand rises in the face of these findings.

This rosy scenario assumes no politics get in the way of an easy changeover, which could be a big assumption. Since the issue of the link between A1 milk and Type 1 diabetes and heart disease was initially raised in early 2003, the New Zealand Food Standards Authority has demonstrated clearly that in the battle between the interests of the dairy industry and those of public health, the industry always wins. As usual, scientific evidence can be molded and withheld by those with vested interests, and consumer choices can be manipulated by corporate interests.

For more information:

E. C

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