Where to Get Calcium When Your Child Won’t Drink Milk

My 7-year old daughter does not like to drink milk at all. Is it okay if I give her Tums as a supplement? She will drink half a glass of chocolate milk but won’t finish it.

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

I’m glad you are paying attention to your daughter’s calcium intake. The AAP guidelines for calcium are 800mg per day from age 4 to 8, and then 1300 mg a day from 9 to 18. They also recommend at least 200 IU per day of Vitamin D, which is needed to properly take in calcium.

Tums are a fine supplement but I also like flavored milks, such as chocolate milk (which has less sugar than juices and many other drinks) and yogurt, which is loaded with calcium. If chocolate milk doesn’t appeal to her any more than plain milk, give the yogurt a try. There are also lots of flavors of liquid yogurt, which she might find appealing. A glass of milk or a serving of yogurt has about 250 mg of calcium.

Some children who refuse to drink milk will take milk if it is frozen into a popsicle, and it does stay packed with nutrition. And thankfully many foods – even waffles – can be obtained with added calcium. Just add up the amounts of calcium she gets from all sources on an average day to be sure she is getting at least the minimum amount for her age.

If you do decide to give her a calcium supplement such as Tums, Viactiv, or calcium gummy bears, be sure to check the label to confirm you are using the correct dose as calcium supplements come in various strengths.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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