Celebrate National Dairy Month with Milk

A few weeks ago, I was getting my son ready for the day. As I rushed past him to butter his waffle I said, “Your milk is on the table.” His response stopped me dead in my tracks. 

“Milk is gross.”

My jaw dropped and my eyes grew wide. Did he really just say that? My barely three and a half year old who has drank milk every morning and night since he was one suddenly hates it? Excuse me?

As an elder millennial, drinking milk growing up was expected. I never questioned it, and I definitely never thought of it as ‘gross.’ And while there are lots of varying opinions about dairy, the environment, and animal welfare, the nutritional value it brings to a child’s diet is undeniable. 

Fresh milk pouring into a glass

Milk contains 13 essential nutrients, is more hydrating than water, and promotes brain health, according to the National Dairy Council. Children who consume dairy foods also show significant improvements in bone mass development. But let’s face it, a kid isn’t going to drink milk because it’s good for them. That simple fact may even be a deterrent. 

If your child isn’t a fan of regular milk, there are still a number of ways you can incorporate dairy foods into their everyday routine. As we celebrate National Dairy Month this June, I thought I’d share a few.

Say Cheese…or Yogurt

If milk isn’t your kid’s thing, try incorporating cheese. Make a charcuterie board for an after school snack, featuring fruits, nuts, and cheese. It might look like a grownup Lunchable, but it’s a healthy way to provide protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients for lasting energy. Provide common cheeses like Cheddar and Swiss, and mix it up with some gourmet options like Brie or Gruyère.

building a charcuterie board

Yogurt is also a great way to increase dairy consumption. Let them build their own parfait with Greek yogurt, berries, granola, and honey. It’s a delicious for breakfast, or even served for dessert. You can also buy the brands which include sweet add-ins like chocolate or toffee. 

Refuel with Chocolate Milk

Many professional athletes use chocolate milk to recover after games and workouts. Why? Consuming low-fat chocolate milk 30 minutes after exercise refuels muscles with fluid, carbohydrates, proteins, and electrolytes. This replenishes fluids lost through sweat. 

Chocolate milk isn’t a sweet treat. Actually, it has less sugar than sports drinks. It also has more calcium, protein, and vitamins A and D.

Lactose Fancy and Free

Have you been steering clear of dairy because it gives your child a tummy ache? There are many options on the market which are lactose free. This means the lactose has been filtered out of the cow’s milk before it is bottled. Lactose free milk contains all the same nutrients and benefits of regular milk without the aches and pains.

Other dairy foods that are safe for lactose intolerance include natural cheeses like Mozzarella, Colby Jack, and Swiss. Greek yogurt contains less lactose than regular yogurt too. Lastly, butter contains trace amounts of lactose and can be enjoyed on, well, most everything. 

Incorporating dairy foods into your child’s routine promotes a healthy lifestyle, fuels their day, and builds lifelong habits. It’s also more sustainable than you might think. The dairy industry contributes less than 2% of the nation’s greenhouse emissions. Milk is also local. It takes about 48 hours for milk to travel from the cow to your grocery store shelves.

While some kids might think milk is “gross”, it’s actually great for them. It’s great for you too! Contrary to some health experts, there’s no evidence that it causes inflammation. It’s even beneficial for some women with chronic conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. So, in celebration of National Dairy Month, try swapping your oat milk for whole next time you’re at a coffee shop, just to see how “gross” it really tastes. You might be surprised.

Interested in adding more protein to your child’s plate? Checkout these 10 Protein Packed Snacks!

Noelle Nachreiner
Noelle is the mom of a three-year-old boy from the Charlotte area. She also serves as the marketing director for a nonprofit that works on behalf of dairy farmers. A graduate of MSU, Noelle spent 15 years in Indianapolis before returning to Michigan in 2019 with her husband. Outside of work and motherhood, Noelle enjoys supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs, volunteering in the community and personal development opportunities.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.