Food and Nutrition

7 Healthy milk alternatives

Puja Sharma Vasisht
3 to 7 years

Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht
Updated on Mar 16, 2017

7 Healthy milk alternatives

Making your child finish a glass of milk is quiet a task for most of the mothers. Yes, milk does provide a wide range of nutrients like proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals but that doesn’t mean that the glass of milk is not negotiable. There can be other alternatives to milk which are comparable to its nutritional strength.



Cheese contains a host of nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. If your child is lactose intolerant, many cheeses, particularly aged cheeses such as Cheddar and Swiss, contain little or no lactose and are often well tolerated. Around 45-50 grams of cheese can give the benefits of a glass of milk.Cottage cheese/ paneer  obtained with curdling of milk with lemon/vinegar is nutritionally similar to cheese (with no additional salt).

Tips: Use cheese slices as a dry snack when travelling; they are non-messy and filling. Also, add cheese to upma, uttapam, fill in paranthas or spread on top of a parantha, add to dosa, grate on soups, or you can add them to vegetable rolls and patties.


Made out of dahi/yogurt, this too is highly nutritious and an excellent source of protein, calcium and potassium. It provides numerous vitamins and minerals and is relatively low in calories. A cup of yogurt has similar nutrients as a cup of milk. Since the lactose in yogurt has been converted to lactic acid, it can be consumed by lactose intolerant children too.

Besides the properties such as milk, yogurt has probiotics also that help maintain the balance of bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system; boost the immune system, shortening the length and severity of sickness; and may reduce eczema in babies. While yogurt is commercially produced, dahi can be set at home. Both have a different strain of bacteria but are probiotic and beneficial for health.

Tips: Increase the consumption of yogurt in your child’s diet by: adding muesli or any favourite breakfast cereal to beaten yogurt; make a fruit lassi, or a smoothie with your child’s favourite fruit and nuts; use hung curd with seasonings as dips and salad dressing; using curd instead of cream to thicken gravies.

For vegans or people with strict milk product allergy, there are plant milk too.


Nut milks

Nut milk as the name suggests is made by grinding nuts along with water and it is strained to get a liquid. This can be made with coconut, almond or cashew nuts.

These milk would be deficient in vitamin B12, as the origin is plant based and would have lesser proteins compared to dairy or soy milk.

Almond milk is most nutritious in terms of health benefits and nutrients it offers compared to other nut milk. But since almond is an expensive nut the actual amount of nut which is used in making the milk could vary a lot. Though it has lesser calories and proteins but it is a good source of vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant ) with no saturated fats and cholesterol. It has a pleasant flavor and creamy texture similar to dairy milk that most enjoy. Since it lacks in most minerals and vitamins it is not suitable alternative for infants.

Other common nut milks include cashew, hazelnut and walnut milk.


Coconut milk

Coconut milk may be the closest milk alternative with the texture of whole milk. It is relatively high in fat with about 50 grams of saturated fat per serving. Coconut milk, along with most nut milks, work well in baked goods because of their nutty flavours. Also often free of soy and gluten, coconut milk is often a good choice for those with multiple food allergies.

Tips: Add it in gravies such as Thai cooking for a smooth, sweet taste. Also, can be made into desserts.


Soy milk

Soymilk is an excellent source of high quality protein, B-vitamins and small quantities of iron. Though it is not a rich source of calcium, but  commercial soymilk products are fortified with calcium and vitamin A and D.Though soymilk has health benefits for adults (prevention ofheart disease and certain cancers too), it should not be given to children below 2 years of age as it can lead to allergic reactions sometimes.

Tips: There are lots of flavoured soymilk available in the market that are tasty and healthy too. You can use soymilk in a similar fashion as regular milk—use in shakes, with cereals, knead in dough etc



Tofu, also known as soya curd, is a soft cheese-like food. It is made by curdling soya milk with a coagulant nigari which is rich in calcium. This makes tofu not only rich in protein, B-vitamins but also in calcium. Other health benefits of tofu include lowering the bad LDL cholesterol and maintaining good HDL cholesterol. It has isoflavones that lower the risk of osteoporosis and certain cancers.

Tips: Saute tofu with brightly coloured vegetables and string together on a toothpick. Serve as an interesting looking snack. Or use as a dessert. Mash it finely into almost a paste-like consistency, add powdered sugar, elaichi powder. Roll into laddos or set as barfi. Soya sandesh is ready!

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| Sep 15, 2017

Is buttermilk an alternative option to milk???

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| Mar 27, 2017

my son is very chusay he can't eat properly. I don't know what to do?

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| Mar 20, 2017

hii.. Madhvi u can give her 1/2 spoon water daily.. bt it should be boiled..

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| Mar 17, 2017

Hii all can I feed little water to my 6th month baby as the summer is coming please give advice

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| Mar 16, 2017

Thanks for sharing. ...I'll try all the alternative also

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| Mar 12, 2017

Except cheese every other option is good. Tough cheese is good ,it also contains extra salt which is not advisable for kids. Occasionally its OK,but we cannot include it in our daily diet. Other ideas are really good.

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| Oct 26, 2016

Good idea

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| Sep 10, 2016

Thanx for nice options but try to give milk habit to child. My son was not drinking bt my conti.. effort made him comfortable. Beginning i started with very small quantity . ☺

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| Aug 30, 2016

thanks for sharing

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| Aug 04, 2016

I had read somewhere that children should not be given cheese in more quantity, it makes them stubborn... : (

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| Jul 17, 2016

very useful info.. ,tq

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| Jun 19, 2016

good article. .useful who drink milk also

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| Jun 02, 2016

Thanks, the options are good. Even for those who happily drink milk.

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