Let's talk about DAIRY

From time-to-time we are asked various questions regarding the use of dairy in some of our Rooted Natural meals. Let us talk about the dairy consumption for your baby and/or toddler.  

According to The South African Food based dietary guidelines children are recommended to consume 2 to 3 servings a day to provide 900mg of calcium for the development of strong bones and healthy teeth.  The key nutrients to sustain this dietary goal would be calcium, phosphate, and magnesium as well as the vital vitamin B12.

For the first year of life, breast- and/or formula milk provide the majority of energy requirements to your baby.  This, together with healthy fats, calcium and other key nutrients are then provided as milk alternatives fail to do so.

Although alternative foods such as sardines and salmon, greens such as broccoli, seeds and legumes also contain calcium, the quantity and/or portion size needs to be considered to achieve an adequate amount. 

 For a child to reach an adequate amount of calcium from these alternatives, they would need to consume either of the following:

270g of sardines mashed with the bone,
About 200 almonds
10 tablespoons seeds
4 cups of legumes
2 ½ cups broccoli,
Even a combination in an acceptable portion would only provide your child with one serving of calcium. 

Now, looking at this comparison what would you be able to feed your toddler at a mealtime to sustain an adequate amount of calcium? As adults we can replace dairy as a source of calcium in our daily intake, however it is impossible to reach the daily requirement of calcium for children without making use of dairy. 

Granted, there will always be concerns. One of which is that the introduction of dairy to your child’s diet can raise, heighten, or activate the onset of allergies and asthma.  Currently there is no sound evidence that shows a direct link between milk and dairy consumption which could trigger the onset of asthma.  However, what we do know, is that the introduction of all allergens during pregnancy, breastfeeding and with solids has been found to prevent allergies.  The logic behind this is that you give your child’s immune system an opportunity to develop and respond to what may be unfamiliar.  If we do not expose our children to allergens it might stay unfamiliar and an immune reaction can develop if only eaten later in life. 

These days we can easily and very conveniently ‘self-diagnose’, this can result in anxiety and the likelihood of nutrient deficiencies when it comes to nutrition.  An allergy is also different from an intolerance.   An allergy is an immune reaction, whereas an intolerance is the inability of the body to break down a food particle.  For example, with dairy the protein in the milk will cause the allergy and the lactose the intolerance. 

Only 4.9% of children under 3 years have a milk allergy.  Lactose intolerance are more common among specific ethnic groups -such as Asians, Hispanics or Africans.  Lactose intolerance can also be temporary after illness.

You should be cautious and guided with the introduction of dairy and/or other allergens with pre-existing allergies in the family. The symptoms are quite similar, therefor it is important to consult your Paediatrician or health care worker if you have concerns for it to be correctly identified and managed.  

When solids are introduced correctly and timely- single nutrients at a time- you give your baby and child an opportunity to identify and build tolerance for food. There are so many aspects of parenthood to be anxious and worried about, let the introduction of solids be a little bit more fun and carefree without the world’s influence and prejudice. 

 At Rooted Natural we do realise that some children may have a milk-  or other allergy. Taking this perspective into account we can be contacted to have your child’s meals / meal plans chosen accordingly.

- Nadia J van Rensburg


Vorster HH, Badham JB, Venter CS.  An introduction to the revised food-based dietary guidelines for South Africa.  SAJCN 2013; S26(3): S5-12.  
Walsh J, Meyer R, Shah N, Quekett J, Fox AT.  Differentiating milk allergy (IgE and non-IgE mediated) from lactose intolerance: understanding the underlying mechanisms and presentations.  British Journal of General Practice 2016;  66 (649): e609-e611.