Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Milk, cheese and yoghurt

2-minute read

Children should have some dairy products every day. Milk, cheese and yoghurt give your child protein and calcium. Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth.

From birth to around 4 to 6 months, babies should only have breastmilk or formula. At around 6 months, you can start to introduce solid foods. Until the age of 2, children should have full-cream milk. Reduced fat dairy is then recommended for children over the age of 2.

Milk provides protein, vitamins and calcium. Soy beverages with added calcium can be used instead of milk for children over 1 year of age. Some nut or oat milks may have added calcium but they lack vitamin B12 and sufficient protein, so check your child’s total diet with a doctor or qualified dietitian before using them.

Alternatives to dairy

If you need an alternative to serving dairy, there are some foods that contain the same amount of calcium as a standard serve (see below) of milk, cheese or yoghurt:

  • 100g almonds with skin
  • 100g firm tofu
  • 60g sardines (canned in water)
  • ½ cup canned pink salmon with bones

Tips for serving dairy

  • yoghurt on cereal or with freshly cut fruit
  • cottage cheese or ricotta on wholegrain toast
  • make smoothies with milk or yoghurt and fresh fruit
  • grated or grilled cheese on veggies or pasta for lunch or dinner

How much dairy does my child need?

  • 2 to 3-year-olds, they should have 1½ serves a day — so that could be a cup of milk and a slice of cheese.
  • 4 to 5-year-olds, girls should still have 1½ serves a day and 2 serves for boys — a tub of yoghurt and 2 slices of cheese.

A serve is equal to 1 cup milk (check plant alternatives have at least 100mg calcium per 100ml), 2 slices (40g) of hard cheese such as cheddar or a tub of yoghurt.

Five food groups

Read more about the other 4 of the 5 food groups:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2020


Back To Top

Need more information?

Dairy foods: How much is enough? | Nutrition Australia

Dairy foods including milk, cheese and yogurt are one of the five food groups the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend we eat every day. The other four food…

Read more on Nutrition Australia website

Healthy drinks for kids & teens | Raising Children Network

What are healthy drinks for kids and teens? Water is best. Low-fat milk is OK. Soft drink, cordial and fruit juice have a lot of sugar and are best avoided.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Healthy food groups: preschoolers | Raising Children Network

Preschoolers need foods from all five healthy food groups: vegetables, fruit, grain foods, dairy and protein. Try to limit salty, sugary and fatty foods.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Vitamins & minerals for kids & teens | Raising Children Network

Children need vitamins and minerals for health and development. They can get vitamins and minerals by eating a variety of foods from the five food groups.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Children and vitamins

Very few kids actually need to take vitamin and mineral supplements, they can get everything they need from a balanced diet.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthy drinks for kids

There are no shortage of drink varieties in Australia, but the best drinks you can give your kids are water and milk.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Packing healthy lunches for children | Raising Children Network

A healthy lunch gives kids energy to play, concentrate and learn. With our healthy lunch ideas, your child’s lunch box options will be nutritious and tasty!

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Healthy eating for kids

Encourage healthy eating habits for kids by shopping healthy and planning meals to minimise temper tantrums at the dinner table and keep fussy eaters happy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Five food groups

Learn about the five food groups and how eating a variety from each every day will help your child develop and grow.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Breastfeeding... Is it for me? | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Before your baby is born, you should decide whether you wish to breastfeed your baby or not

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.