School-Aged Kids & Milk

Archived Q&A and Reviews

6 year old takes forever to finish her milk

Oct 2007

Hello All, My 6 year old and I have a battle every morning about drinking milk. She takes forever to finish half a glass, and I lose my temper and sanity. I have tried reasoning with her, explaining why her body needs milk, etc. What is so difficult about drinking milk ? I am at a loss, but want to break out of this crazy cycle. If I leave it to her, we would be late for school everyday. It is a struggle in the mornings. It feels like I am the one who needs to get to school on time. She takes her own time to wake up, brush her teeth, drink her milk, and in the meanwhile, I am barely holding on to it. I have tried waking her up earlier, but she just takes longer to wake up. The law of natural consequences doesn't seem to work here. I just don't like the situation or my behaviour. Please help.

Thanks, Feels Like Groundhog Day

I had two thoughts -- first, could you just give her more milk later in the day, when there are no time constraints? Alternately, give her milk in a different form -- cheese stick, maybe, she could eat that on the way if it isn't finished when you need to leave. My kids don't LIKE milk, so what we've taken to doing is giving them ''vanilla milk'' -- milk with a drop or two of vanilla extract in it and a tiny bit of sugar added. They love that and will drink much more milk that way, much more quickly. mom of milkless kids

Why is drinking milk so important? Perhaps she is lactose intolerant and it gives her a tummy ache. But even if it doesn't, there's nothing special in milk that she can't get from other foods. Seems like a battle not worth fighting. -not a milk drinker

I hated, HATED, milk growing up. Still hate it. And, as an aside, I was breastfed, I believe 8 to 10 months back in the '60s. I had to drink at least a glass a night at dinner, and I had all sorts of tricks to do it. There was Nesquick strawberry flavored, but my mom didn't like me doing that. Then there was the leftover vinegar and oil (mostly vinegar; healthy mom) in the salad bowl. I'd get a spoon and down it so I HAD to drink the milk out of pure revulsion to drinking vinegar.

But I'm sure lots of people will tell you there are lots of ways to get calcium other than forcing your daughter to drink milk. Cheese and yogurt come to mind, but there are lots of food in a balanced diet that can help you out here.

Or else, try a flavored milk - banana, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry...they have lots of flavors now, and if you balk at those options because of sugar, think of it this way: At least she's getting calcium. --Milk hater

Stop forcing her to drink milk. Try getting her calcium in other ways - like cheese, yogurt or calcium fortified orange juice. You'll have plenty of battles with your daughter in due time - this one doesn't seem worth having. anon

This is a battle you will lose, and it's not worth fighting anyway. Disengage. If your child does not like milk, she does not have to drink milk. There are other ways for her to get enough protein and calcium; plenty of healthy humans in this world never drink any other species' milk at all. In fact, dairy allergies and intolerances are not all that rare, so it's quite possible that your daughter SHOULD NOT drink milk -- it may be not so much that she doesn't like the taste as that it makes her feel ill! anon

Hello, My son has always refuse to drink milk, I tried everything. When he was almost 6 years old, I discovered he was lactose intolerant. He doesn't eat or is forced to eat (!!) any dairy product anymore but takes Calcium Gummy Bears from L'il Critters that I buy at Costco. Anon

Why don't you have her drink her milk in the evening? Then she can sit at the table for three hours if she doesn't want to finish it. Or, you can find other ways to get her calcium. There are the obvious choices (cheese, yogurt)or go the way of the vegans and offer soy milk and juice, calcium-set tofu, soybeans and soynuts, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens, and okra. You can give her a choice between a plate of broccoli or a glass of milk (then the decision is in her hands which is always more effective in getting something accomplished).

Also, as far as the rest of the lolly-gagging, let her take responsibility for it. My daughter went to the daycare at the gym this morning in nice pink cord slacks paired with her dirty PJ top. I told her that we needed to get dressed so that we could go. She wanted to play. So there we have it. She didn't like going to the daycare in the dirty top, but we didn't have any time to change it do to her actions. My guess is that your daughter at age six is going to get moving rather than wear her nightgown to school. -like choices

This is easy if you are willing to listen to and follow the advice I am sure will be repeated here over and over. Ready? Here it is...


That's it.

If you're really worried about the calcium, let her eat a couple of Tums. That's what I do with my kid, who's allergic to milk and has never had it. My goodness, think about how it would feel to be forced to put something in your body that you didn't want there. That's what is so hard about drinking a glass of milk--she doesn't want to drink it!! Why should she have to??

Hated Cleaning My Plate

As someone who is dairy intolerant (as were my kids) I disagree that your daughter NEEDS milk. There are other ways for her to get calcium and protein. Is the battle worth it?

If you REALLY want her to drink milk try putting some honey or chocolate syrup in it, or warming it. Maybe she doesn't like it cold. I know, honey, chocolate...sugar. I'd be totally against that usually, but if you really want to get the milk into her...make it more appealing. The benefits might outweigh the negatives of the sugar.

Try goats milk. It's got a different taste. Is she dairy sensitive or does she just not want her milk in the morning? How about cereal with milk? Pancakes made with milk? French toast?...all those have milk so you'd be getting it into about a smoothie.

I doubt that it's worth the fight,but there are other ways. Good luck, anon mom

so...this could be total coincidence, however, I was exactly the same as a child. Every morning a glass of milk waited for me. Every morning, I rebuffed it. I remember having stomach aches after drinking it. They were temporary and I was easily distracted from them with all of the day's activities. It turned out that I was lactose intollerant. The tables really turned when my mother, in an attempt to be more healthy, switched us to lowfat...and then non-fat milk. I remember throwing up once...right on my mother after finishing a glass of non-fat milk! Much later, as a young adult, I learned I was lactose intollerant and that the lower the fat, the higher the lactose content! My mother was just trying to do what she thought was best nutritionally, and tried really hard to keep sodas etc. at bay. To this day I have to watch how much I drink...and it is naturally not appetizing to me. I have heard similar stories...and heard of a study that indicated that children avoided foods that they were allergic to. I have never actually seen that study...and wonder how many kids are allergic to brussel sprouts? hahaha!

On the other hand it may simply be a power struggle. Is this a necessary battle? You may feel strongly: yes...this particular issue means a lot to you. Milk is an important part of our family's diet and nutrition. This may not be something you are willing to compromise on. On the other hand, if after rethinking it, you just want to make sure that your child has calcium, you could avoid this particular struggle by choosing alternate calcium rich foods. anon

Just a quick thought: Have you tried providing her with a smoothie instead? A mom with a similar issue

Is this issue about the milk or about getting ready and getting out in the morning? If it's really about the milk, the solution seems easy: Let go of it. Let her drink calcium fortified juice, or take a multi-vitamin, or eat a piece of cheese. Warm the milk up. Add a touch of honey and vanilla. Maybe she hates milk. Maybe she only hates milk in the morning and would drink it in the afternoon. Definitely, definitely, a half a glass of milk is not worth any sort of battle. Another Parent

Choose your battles. Why don't you skip the milk and give her calcium rich foods instead? Contrary to popular opinion, cow milk is not necessary for humans (as humans are not baby cows). Try pureed kale hidden in pizza. Or broccoli with cheese sauce. Investigate a vegan diet if she doesn't like cheese. It is possible with research and planning. ''I Hate Milk'' - Air Miami

It sounds like you're describing my colleague's daughter. What worked for her and most kids around this age is a token economy system of rewards to help modify behaviors in the morning routine. Though, the first question I'd ask is if she's getting enough quality sleep at night (every child varies with the amount of sleep needed). Here's an example of a token economy system that you may try or modify. First, have her sit with you and on individual sheets of paper, write out things she would enjoy doing or receiving, i.e. go for ice cream at baskin robbins, make a build-a-bear, etc. These are rewards that will go in the rewards jar or box. Then, clearly state your expectations for the morning routine on a list, i.e. brush teeth, brush hair, get dressed and make bed and she can check off the items when they're complete. You can take pictures of her tooth brush, her bed that's made, picture of her in an outfit, etc and put these on the list rather than writing out the expectations. Let her know that if all things are completed by X time in the morning, (you can use an egg timer or a clock, allow adequate time) then she gets a star on a chart. Once a certain number of stars are achieved, then she can pull a reward from the ''rewards'' jar.

In regard to your concern about milk, are you opposed to chocolate milk (there's low-fat choco milk syrup)? You could switch it up a few days a week for variety sake. I guess if your daughter is getting calcium, vitamins and protein from other sources, half a glass is not so bad. Hope this helps. Mai

Try putting chocolate syrup in the milk...I've read studies which say that chocolate milk is fine...much better than juice. The point is to get the milk in them and not worry too much about a little bit of sugar and chocolate. Also, see if she likes it warm (hot cocoa) better. Other things I've done is make ''pink milk'' (add a drop of red food coloring) and other things to make it fun. One restaurant I went to had pink milk made with grenadine syrup (the stuff they make Shirley Temples out of). My daughters really loved that. And they also love box chocolate milk (available at Costco). If she really hates it they do sell orange juice with calcium and those little gummy bear calcium chewies for kids. I give those to my older daughter when she won't drink milk...she just doesn't like it as much as my younger daughter. But she has been asking for cold milk plain lately...especially with oreos or other fun things to dip in it. Chocolate milk mommy

This may not be what you want to hear, but why does she have to drink milk? After weaning my first, I tried everything with him formula, and then I just gave up. I increased servings of calcium in other foods. Why can't you add a little ovaltine powder? (That ''feels'' healthier to me than nesquik for some reason.) I, as a kid, LOVED Carnation Instant Breakfast powder. Put that in a blender with milk and I was in heaven. What about a smoothie with milk and ice, yogurt, frozen fruit, bananas...?

Our pediatrician recently recommended orange juice with added calcium. (I hadn't thought of that.) Maybe what your daughter needs is choices?? Explain she MUST eat certain kinds of foods for her bones and then give her a choice. Cheese, yogurt, OJ, milk, whatever three choices you give her and she MUST pick. There are plenty of places that calcium is hidden, too... in other veggies etc so maybe you'll have to become a sleuth and find them for her. Your morning insanity will thank you for it. mom without milk

Is it just milk in the morning she resists? If so, you can give her milk in her lunch. I buy it in aseptic individual serving boxes at Trader Joe's. Or, feed her something else with calcium, like enriched orange juice. I think you should be a little more flexible - otherwise she'll start hating milk altogether because it makes you so mad she's not drinking it. anon

Why is milk so important to you? We are the only mammal drinking milk from another mammal. What's natural about that? Many people are allergic to dairy or have different levels of lactose intolerance. I got stomach aches from milk when I was 6 and my mom changed her mind quickly.

That said, good water is what the body needs. Why do you think milk is so good? Because the dairy industry has always advertised it that way? Calcium, Protein? Shift to other beverages that offer that or offer more food with these. There is no reason to continue your daily milk struggle with your daughter. Kids just know what they don't like or what doesn't feel right. Adults have the capacity to analyze complex situations and propose acceptable alternatives. Anonymous

Have you talked to your daughter's pediatrician about this? I don't think it's really necessary for everyone to drink milk. I personally never liked milk after my early childhood and I've never had problems. If your daughter eats some cheese or yogurt daily she will definitely be fine. There are lots of other sources of calcium, like salmon, but I guess most people wouldn't want to eat salmon every day. Worst case, have her take a calcium supplement. anon

It is simply not true that your daughter needs milk. End of story. Forget about the milk. I have 4 children and two have never liked milk and are both strong, health kids. This idea that milk is an essential food is so silly. Really. Do a little research and I assure you you will find that there are plenty of other sources of calcium and protein. Broccoli, yogurt etc. Sarah

Is cow's milk really that important to cause such upsets each morning? Perhaps she's not wild about milk? Perhaps she is not hungry in the morning. My 14 year old has never eaten first thing in the morning. To this day, he says that it doesn't feel right in his stomach until he has been awake for a couple of hours. He only uses milk on his cereal on occasion, and rarely drinks a glass. He is 6''2 and extremely healthy. My youngest son is nearly 3 and rarely drinks milk. Usually a quarter cup twice a week, if that. He is in the 95th percentile on the growth charts for his age.There are LOADS of alternatives for calcium. How about cheeses, rice, soy, almond, and hemp milks? Nuts, dried beans, yogurt, kefir, grains, figs, oranges, eggs, pizza, fish, chickpeas. Milk is SO over rated!!! Your daughter can easily get calcium throughout the day. It does not have to be 1st thing in the morning. My advice is to relax and stay as calm as possible in these situations. She probably feels the pressure and anxiety and is stressed herself or rebellious. Try giving her a choice of healthy things to eat instead of insisting that you know what is best for her. You may also want to do some research on the downside to milk. Especially if it is not organic and raw. There is plenty on the internet on this subject. Best of Luck! Mama of a TALL and HEALTHY family that rarely drinks milk

I would give both of yourselves a break over the milk. Put out the glass of milk and let your daughter decide how much to drink. If you are concerned she is not getting enough calcium, offer other foods rich in calcium throughout the day, or give her a calcium supplement. good luck

Easy answer -- stop making your kid drink milk! Lots of kids don't drink half a glass of milk every morning, and they're perfectly healthy.

Another option -- try soy milk or almond milk or rice milk or strawberry milk or chocolate milk and see if your kid likes that better. (But recognize that you getting your kid to drink milk faster is more for your own benefit than your kid's!)

Another option -- put the milk in the blender with some ice cubes and fruit, and viola -- a smoothie! Let your kid pick the fruit, for added incentive.

The biggest problems I see are not that your kid won't drink milk quickly, it's your insistence that: 1. your kid drink milk 2. your kid drink a specified amount of milk 3. your kid do this every day 4. your kid drink quickly

I think it's you who need to change, not your kid! a

I know what you mean. My kids started balking at milk at age 2.5. My pediatrician said, chocolate milk is better than no milk. So, Ovaltine it is. Yes, more sugar. But, no fights, no nothing--just children chugging their milk. Besides, I was trying to supplement with yogurt, and cheese. There's more sugar in yogurt and it's hard to eat enough cheese. Too, it's probably a power struggle at this point with your child, not a milk issue. You may use it as a tool. ''Oh, you don't want any milk? Too bad, because today it's chocolate. Nonono, you said no milk!'' anon

Some Idea's 1. Tell child that all you ask of them is to drink 1 glass of milk per day. Ask when they will drink it, breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner. The choice is then theirs. 2. If they don't drink it when you tell them too, child can't watch tv (or whatever their vice is). 3. Make it a game. Set the timer for 3 min. Give child high five or gold star. 4. Put food coloring in it. 5. Use Gold stars. 3 days of no complaints equals 1 day of chocolate milk. 6. Give child fun straw. (or are they bad bc they are plastic, shoot!)

Do you drink milk? If so, drink some with child. If not think of another way child can get calcium (or whatever your goal is in making your child drink gross milk). Another way to get calcium is through, collard greens, tofu, soy yogurt, broccoli, almonds, almond butter, cheese and even corn bread. Not drinking cow's milk.

I'm not sure if this is about the milk or about your child's time management/ temperament. I'll let others speak to the latter and just say that I HATED drinking milk when I was younger (still do). It tastes and smells awful and feels like slime, everything about it repulses me. Let her drink something else and replace the milk with a nutritional equivalent. Rachael

OK, I never saw the original post so if I'm off the mark . . . I was truly shocked to see the answers given to your posting. Here goes:

There are very good reasons to drink milk, besides calcium and protein, especially at 6. There are excellent alternative sources for those physical needs. BUT does your child wear sunscreen? Is your child living in the US or Western Europe? Then they too are probably Vitamin D deficient. They may even have osteopenia (on the road to osteoporosis) which means brittle bones, teeth and a much higher incidence of bone-breaks. There are sources other than milk for Vit D. A simple 15 minutes basking in the sun, arms and face exposed, every couple of days gets you all you need. If your child does not go out without sunscreen then they are probably lacking. You really can't tell without a blood test or a trip to the emergency room with a broken arm. And your child needs D3 like in cow milk, not D2 as found in soy and rice milks. Some fortified OJs have D2, some D3. There are also alternative sources, but, once again, hard to get enough from those sources. Your kid would have to solely consume Chum salmon, green vegies and supplements. I don't know a single child who eats like that.

Sneak the milk in or make friends with the sun. I say this from experience. My son is Vit D deficient, as are about 60% of American children. And yes, I love soy moo. And no, I don't work for the Milk Advisory Board. Got Casts?