Dairy or Dairy-Free? What Kind of Milk Should My Kids Drink?

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Closeup portrait of happy young boy holding glass of milk

When it comes to nutrition choices for your kids, you have almost too many options. The decision can be overwhelming sometimes. As a parent, you only want the best milk for your toddlers and kids, but what is best?

While we can’t answer that question for you, we can help you with at least one aspect of your child’s diet. You may have been asking yourself, should my child have dairy? And what about all the dairy alternatives I have been hearing about, are they right for my family? What is the best milk alternative for my toddler?

Lucky for you, we have done the research for you. At Twin Cities Kids Club, we care about your family’s health and happiness. Become a member today for amazing deals and discounts in the Twin City area. 

And now, back to the question at hand, to drink dairy, or to not drink dairy?

Let’s first take a look at the most popular dairy options.

kids drinking milk at home at home or kindergarten

The Real Deal- Dairy

Cow Milk

8 oz- 146 calories, 8 grams protein

Cow’s milk is the most popular and accessible option. People have been drinking cow’s milk for its nutritional value for thousands of years. It is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

In more recent years, lactose allergies and other concerns have led many people to turn away from cow’s milk to alternative options. One of the smoothest transitions would be milk from another traditional farm animal.

Which leads us to;

Goat Milk

8 oz- 140 calories, 8 grams protein

Goat milk is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk if you are lactose intolerant. It has lower levels of lactose. Additionally, the lactose that you find in goat milk is the variety that is easier for humans to digest.

The flavor profile is definitely different than cow’s milk. Some people don’t mind, and some people even prefer it. It all comes down to personal preference.

You might be one of the people who wish to avoid dairy altogether. Thankfully, there are many options for dairy alternatives out there today. Let’s take a closer look at many of them.

Close up portrait of adorable little African girl drinking glass of milk.Isolated against light background.

Dairy-Free Alternatives

Soy Milk

8 oz- 90 calories, 9 grams protein

Soy milk is made from soybeans or soy protein isolate. It is usually thickened with vegetable oil or other thickeners.

Its flavor is mild and creamy, but it can vary significantly between brands. Many people choose this as their main dairy substitute because it has a comparable amount of protein with about half the fat, calories, and carbs of cow’s milk.

On the other hand, soy is very controversial because of the isoflavones that can affect the estrogen receptors in your body. Many experts agree that soy, in moderation, can be part of a healthy diet. 

Coconut Milk

8 oz- 45 calories, 0.5 grams protein

Coconut milk is made from the water and white flesh of coconuts. It has a slightly sweet and subtle coconut flavor. While it contains a third of the calories and less than half the fat and carbs, unfortunately, it also contains less than half of the protein of cow’s milk. 

Research on the nutritional value of coconut milk is currently inconclusive. Some experts say the particular type of saturated fat in coconut milk may reduce appetite, lower cholesterol, and even help you lose weight.

Other research shows that coconut oil may raise your cholesterol. Until more definitive evidence can be found, the choice is up to you.

happy family at kitchen, daughter with father sitting at table with pancakes and looking at each other when daughter drinking milk

Almond Milk

8 oz- 35 calories, 1 grams protein

Almond milk can be made from mixing water with either whole almonds or almond butter. The flavor can be described as slightly sweet and nutty. It has significantly lower levels of calories, fat, carbs, and protein. 

Some people find almond milk ideal because of the low-calorie and low-fat content. Additionally, almond milk is high in vitamin E. Others would argue that you could more easily get the nutrition you seek from eating whole almonds. 

As a dairy substitute, though, almond milk is a viable option.

Rice Milk

8 oz- 135 calories, 1 gram protein

Rice milk is made by mixing milled white or brown rice and water. Just like with many other non-dairy kinds of milks, it is thickened to improve the texture and taste. One main benefit of rice milk is the fact that it is the least allergenic of the dairy alternatives. 

The calorie count of rice milk is similar to cow’s milk, but the carb count is almost double. Rice milk is not an excellent option for people on low-carb diets. It is also high on the glycemic index, so it may not be right for people with diabetes. 

Cute little girl with glass of milk indoors

Hemp Milk

8 oz- 80 calories, 2 grams protein

We know what you’re thinking, but this milk isn’t anything to be afraid of. While it is made from the same plant as marijuana, it is made from the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of THC, the mind-altering chemical found in cannabis. 

Hemp milk is slightly sweet and nutty. Its texture is often somewhat thin and watery. Many vegetarians and vegans incorporate hemp milk into their diet for the nutritional value. Hemp milk is considered a complete protein.

Additionally, hemp milk is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is also a low-carb food. As with most of the other dairy alternatives, avoid the sweetened varieties as they are also higher in carbs.

Oat Milk

8 oz- 150 calories, 4 grams protein

Like many of the previous entries on this list, oat milk couldn’t be made without water. Oat milk is made by soaking oats in water and then blending and straining the mixture. It can be quite thick, and the flavor is relatively mild. 

Oat milk can be beneficial because of the high level of fiber and beta-glucan, which can lower cholesterol. Beta-glucan has also been known to help reduce your blood sugar levels. It can also increase feelings of fullness.

On top of that, oat milk is arguably the easiest milk alternative to make at home. Check out this recipe. Be warned; it is a messy process!

mother helping little daughter putting milk to glass with breakfast together at home kitchen in the morning

We are lucky to live in a time where dairy alternatives are prevalent and easily accessible. If you are considering an alternative to cow’s milk, we hope we have given you an excellent place to start.

Check out Twin Cities Kids Club for all your families needs. Don’t forget to become a member to get access to those amazing deals and discounts!

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