Squeezing enough dairy into your kids’ diets is more easily said than done. As pretty much every parent knows, children can be very fussy eaters and getting them to eat all of the vitamins, nutrients and calcium they need to grow and function properly can be a difficult task.
However, ensuring your child gets their dietary requirement for dairy each day may not be as difficult as you think. As children grow, their intake of dairy (through milk, cheese, yoghurt or other alternatives) needs to grow too. Dairy products are not only a good source of protein, but they’re also packed full of calcium which is essential for strong and healthy teeth and bones.
If you’re familiar with the challenge of your little ones refusing to eat a spoonful of yoghurt or drink a glass of milk, you’re not alone. But don’t worry; there are lots of ways you can squeeze more dairy into children’s diets without them even realising! In fact, dairy foods are generally much easier to slip into your kids’ diets than other types of foods, such as fruit and vegetables, because you can disguise them in sauces, smoothies, baked goods… the options are endless!
Read on for our top tips and tricks to squeeze more dairy into your children’s diets and make sure they get their daily intake of calcium and protein.
Get creative with lunchboxes
Your child’s lunchbox is the perfect place to get some dairy in. Slip some cheese into their lunchbox in the form of sandwiches or little pasta pots. There are plenty of lunchbox-friendly cheese products in the shops today, including bite-size cheese cubes and small cheese squares with crackers.
It doesn’t stop with cheese – there are lots of other ways to squeeze dairy into your child’s lunchbox too. Fresh carrot sticks with a yoghurt dip are a tasty and nutritious snack, whereas a small pot of raspberries or strawberries with cream or yoghurt can make a delicious summer treat. If you want to keep things simple, there are plenty of different flavoured yoghurt pots to put into your child’s lunchbox.
Encourage milk time in your home
Lots of children love milk, but if yours doesn’t, there are other options to explore. Try to make drinking a glass of milk appealing – for example, settling down each night with a blanket for a bedtime story and a glass of warm milk will make them look forward to it and associate drinking milk with a positive experience. If your child is reluctant to drink a glass of milk on its own, try making it more fun – think coloured straws, fun cups or even chocolate flavouring if you’ve got a very fussy little eater on your hands.
Cook meals with milk
If you have to be a bit more sneaky about getting your children to drink milk, there are plenty of meals you can cook that contain milk. Many children love tucking into a bowl of pasta and this is the perfect opportunity to introduce some milk; there are lots of different milk-based pasta sauces to try, including macaroni cheese, creamy tuna pasta bake and ham and vegetable pasta.
If you want to make things a little more fun, there are plenty of other ways to get creative. Homemade custard has over one litre of milk in it and is super easy to make, whereas cereal with bright coloured fruits teamed with milk can be appealing to little ones. Use milk in place of water when making pudding and pancakes too for an extra dose of calcium.
Sprinkle cheese on foods
Cheese can be easily slipped into your children’s diet – perhaps more easily than you think. Cheese can be sprinkled on just about everything, from pizza, oven bakes and pasta to veggies, omelettes and tacos. Lots of children will love the golden glaze over their food and the flavour it gives! Don’t forget to start with mild cheeses; remember, your children’s taste buds are sensitive and if the taste of a cheese is too strong, it could put them off completely.
Make hot chocolates and smoothies
Who doesn’t love snuggling down to watch a movie with a hot chocolate? When making hot chocolates, use milk instead of water. You can also make them more appealing with cream and marshmallows too.
Making fruit smoothies with your children is also a healthy and nutritious way to make sure they get their daily dose of calcium. Get them to pick out their favourite brightly coloured fruits with you and let them watch as you blend them all up into juicy goodness. Instead of adding juice, blend yoghurt or milk into the smoothie for a delicious, creamy touch to ensure your child is getting their dairy intake for the day. You can have lots of fun making different coloured smoothies and trying out different fruits and flavours.
What does a healthy children’s diet look like?
It’s important to remember that dairy is just one part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Here is what you should be working into your child’s diet to fuel their growth and development:
Make sure your child gets plenty of fresh fruit. Whether they’re blended into smoothies, served up with yoghurt or served alone, fruit is an essential part of a healthy diet. Try to avoid sugary fruit juices and opt for fresh fruit instead.
Aim to add a variety of vegetables in your child’s diet, including green, leafy vegetables, red and orange, starchy and more each week. Different vegetables are beneficial for different reasons, so don’t just stick to green peas or carrot sticks – make sure your child is getting a full variety in their five a day.
There are lots of different foods you can incorporate into your child’s diet to make sure they’re getting enough protein, including lean meat, poultry, peas, beans, eggs and seafood. Lots of soy products are also packed with protein and are a great option to explore too.
Whole grains include whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa and brown rice. White bread, pasta and rice are refined grains and therefore should be limited (but still enjoyed). When making sandwiches, opt for whole-wheat bread instead of white bread and allow your child to snack on some popcorn with a movie every now and then!
Of course, dairy is important in a child’s diet. Encourage your child to eat and drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products to keep saturated fats low. This includes milk, yoghurt, cheese and fortified soy beverages.
Freshways: the UK’s largest independent processing dairy
Whether you’re planning a children’s menu for your cafe or you want child-friendly snacks available in your bakery, having a reliable supply of fresh dairy products is key. At Freshways, we provide clients throughout London, Wales and the UK with the freshest milk and dairy products available. As an independent and family-run business, we’re proud to offer only the highest quality dairy products available.
We offer a reliable and efficient delivery service to ensure you receive the products you need on time and offer a range of other everyday products you may require for your business too, including juices, butter, bread and more. For more information about us, visit our website.