It is important that dairy is a part of a child’s diet every day. Childhood is an important time for building strong, healthy bones and so getting enough calcium is essential.

Not many other foods in our diet contain as much calcium as dairy foods. They also provide important nutrients such as proteins, which the human body needs to work properly - to grow and repair itself. Fat in milk provides calories for young children and also contains essential vitamins such as vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B12 (folate).

It is essential that we encourage children to eat healthy, calcium-rich foods. If a child does not deposit enough calcium in their bones, their bodies have to use more of it from other areas in the body which can lead to weak, brittle bones. Bones reach their peak density somewhere around age 20-25, so it’s important that calcium is consumed regularly throughout childhood, the teen years and even into the twenties and beyond to ensure bones are at their strongest.

Good sources of dairy at breakfast:

·      Milk

·      Yoghurt

·      Cheese

·      Alternative milk products – Almond, Soy, Rice (fortified with calcium)

Dairy at breakfast time:

Getting a serving of dairy at breakfast time can be very simple and a great way to start a child’s day. They could have a bowl of cereal or porridge made with milk, they could spread some low fat cream cheese on toast or a bagel, they could add a couple tablespoons of yoghurt to a breakfast smoothie or simply have a glass of milk with their morning food.

Top tips:

.1. Try to use lower fat milk options e.g skimmed, 1% fat or semi skimmed.
.2. Cheese can have high saturated fat and salt contents so look for reduced fat and salt options or opt for soft cheeses such as cream cheese or cottage cheese which are lower in fat.
.3. Try using low-fat plain yoghurt or fromage frais – remember to avoid adult and dessert style yoghurts for a young child as these often have a high sugar content.

Remember children above the age of 2 years should be offered low or reduced fat dairy products.

There are milk subsidiary schemes in most schools and it is usually free for under 5’s.

The school food standards require low-fat milk or lactose-reduced milk to be available during school hours.