A: Some toddlers seem to equate milk with a bottle, and when they’re in this frame of mind, drinking milk from a sippy cup just doesn’t feel right to them. Refusal to drink milk from a sippy cup often happens right after a child is weaned from her bottle. The good news is that this refusal is often a temporary situation. As a child stops yearning for her bottle and, better yet, forgets completely about it, she’s able to accept milk from a cup.
You’re doing the right thing by giving your daughter other good sources of calcium, such as yogurt and cheese, while she’s not willing to drink milk from a sippy cup. That’s probably a better strategy than giving her back her bottle so she’ll keep drinking milk. In the meantime, you might want to flavor her milk with pureed strawberries or another type of fruit she likes. A strawberry “milkshake” might tempt her to drink from a cup!
If your daughter still doesn’t want to drink milk, it’s possible that she’s just not all that crazy about milk in the first place. She might have been drinking milk before because she loved her bottle, and she was willing to tolerate the milk in order to derive the comfort and pleasure of drinking from her bottle.
My middle son went through the same kind of thing. I nursed him as long as I could, and then I bottlefed him afterward. He drank milk from the bottle just fine, but the day I weaned him from the bottle, he refused to drink milk again. Period. As it turns out, he’s lactose intolerant. Of course he couldn’t tell us that when he was a toddler; he just knew that for some reason he didn’t especially like milk. He certainly didn’t like it enough to drink it from a cup. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. So I made sure that my son had plenty of calcium in his diet, from yogurt, broccoli, calcium-fortified orange juice, and soy milk. I also gave him a calcium supplement every day. Even as a teenager, my son still doesn’t drink dairy milk.
Although milk is the number one source of calcium in the average American’s diet, it is entirely possible to get sufficient calcium from a milk-free diet. If your daughter decides that she’s just not going to be a milk drinker from now on, you can continue to offer her a variety of other calcium-rich foods so you’ll be sure that she’s getting all the calcium she needs for good health.