how much milk for 20 month old

How Much Milk Should Your 20-Month-Old Be Drinking?

As a parent or caregiver, ensuring your toddler is receiving adequate nutrition is a top priority. One essential component of a healthy diet for growing toddlers is milk. Whether breastmilk, formula, or cow’s milk, milk contains a host of nutrients that are vital for their growth and development.

In this article, we will explore how much milk 20-month-olds should be consuming and the factors that influence their milk intake. We’ll also look at the potential impacts of not consuming enough milk and what could happen if they drink too much. Lastly, we’ll provide tips for incorporating other nutrient-rich foods into their diet to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients.

The Nutritional Needs of a 20-Month-Old

Before diving into how much milk a 20-month-old should be consuming, it’s important to understand their nutritional needs. At 20 months old, toddlers require a well-balanced diet that meets their daily nutrient requirements to support their growth and development.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), at this age, children require:

  • Between 1 and 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day
  • 30-40% of daily calories from fat sources
  • Between 1300-1600 calories per day depending on his/her sex and activity level

It is recommended that toddlers consume two servings of dairy products per day, including both milk and other dairy sources like cheese and yogurt. Milk provides essential nutrients needed for growth and development such as calcium, vitamin D, and protein.

Understanding Milk Intake Recommendations for Toddlers

The amount of milk a 20-month-old should consume varies based on different factors such as their weight, activity level, and overall diet. The AAP recommends the following guidelines for milk intake for toddlers:

  • 12-16 ounces of whole cow’s milk per day (or the equivalent amount of breastmilk or formula) for children over 12 months old who are no longer breastfeeding
  • 2 servings of dairy products per day

It’s important to note that drinking too much milk may lead to iron-deficiency anemia, as it can interfere with iron absorption from other foods.

Factors That Influence How Much Milk a Toddler Needs

The amount of milk a toddler needs can be influenced by various factors. These include:

  • Activity level: Toddlers who are more active will require more calories and thus may need more milk or dairy servings throughout the day.
  • Diet: If your toddler has a well-balanced diet that includes other calcium-rich foods like yogurt and cheese, they may not require as much milk.
  • Breastmilk/formula vs cow’s milk: Children who continue to breastfeed or consume formula may not require as much cow’s milk as those who do not receive any breastmilk/formula.

It’s essential for parents and caregivers to monitor their child’s growth and development, including their milk intake, to determine whether they are meeting their daily nutrient requirements.

Signs Your 20-Month-Old Needs More/Less Milk

Knowing when your toddler needs more or less milk is essential for ensuring they are receiving adequate nutrition. Below are some signs that your 20-month-old might need more or less milk in their diet:

Signs they need more:

  • Frequent hunger: If your toddler seems to be constantly hungry or asking for food, they may need more milk or other foods to meet their calorie needs.
  • Frequent waking: If your toddler wakes up frequently at night, they may require more caloric intake during the day, including milk.
  • Low weight or growth rate: If your child is not meeting growth milestones and seems underweight, they may need to increase their milk intake to support healthy growth.

Signs they need less:

  • Excessive weight gain: Drinking too much milk can lead to excessive weight gain, which could be a sign that they are consuming too much milk or not engaging in enough physical activity.
  • Reduced appetite for other foods: If your toddler is drinking too much milk, they may have reduced hunger for other foods and miss out on essential nutrients from a well-balanced diet.

What Happens if Your 20-Month-Old Drinks Too Much Milk?

While milk provides critical nutrients for toddlers, consuming too much of it can lead to complications. Drinking too much milk can interfere with iron absorption and lead to iron-deficiency anemia.

Excessive amounts of calcium in the diet (like those resulting from excessive intake of dairy products) can interfere with zinc and copper metabolism when consumed in very high amounts. It’s important to exercise moderation and follow recommendations for dairy product consumption.

Some signs that your child is drinking too much milk include:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea or constipation
  • Limited hunger for other foods
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Lethargy or decreased energy level

If you suspect your toddler is consuming too much milk, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider.

The Impacts of Insufficient Milk Intake for Toddlers

Inadequate milk intake can lead to developmental delays, malnutrition, and poor growth. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and other key nutrients that play essential roles in bone growth and development.

If your toddler is not consuming enough milk, they may be at a greater risk for developing rickets (a condition characterized by weak bones), stunted growth, or other developmental issues.

Adding Variety to Your 20-Month-Old’s Diet

While milk is an essential part of your toddler’s diet, it’s important to include other nutrient-rich foods too. Incorporating various non-dairy sources that are rich in calcium and other key nutrients can help ensure your child is receiving a well-rounded diet.

Some options include:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Dark, leafy greens like broccoli or kale
  • Calcium-fortified juices or milks
  • Sardines or salmon
  • Figs or prunes

By incorporating these foods into your child’s diet, you’ll be providing vital nutrients outside of those found in milk.

Coping with Changes in Milk Consumption as Toddlers Grow

As children grow older, their milk needs will change. As early as 2 years old, children can switch to low-fat or skim milk. It’s also common for toddlers to slowly wean from breastmilk/formula to cow’s milk at this time.

Based on changes in their daily needs due to growth and activity level changes , adjusting the amount of milk they consume may be necessary. You can work with your healthcare provider to determine how much milk they should be consuming relative to their diet and activity levels.


In conclusion, ensuring your toddler gets adequate nutrition is crucial for healthy growth and development. While the recommended amount of milk for 20-month-olds is 12-16 ounces per day, paying attention to various factors such as their weight, activity level, and diet can help determine if more or less is needed.

Moderation is crucial when it comes to milk intake in toddlers. Monitoring the amount of milk consumed alongside breastmilk or formula is also essential when providing optimal and balanced nutrition. Also, adding other nutrient-rich foods to their regular foods may potentially lower the percentage of the volume required for milk intake while you ensure that all nutritional needs are being met.

As always, if you have any concerns about your toddler’s health or nutrition, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider for guidance.

7 FAQs About How Much Milk for 20 Month Old

1. How much milk does a 20-month-old need?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a 20-month-old toddler should consume about 16-24 ounces of milk per day.

2. Can I give my 20-month-old whole milk?

Yes, you can give your 20-month-old whole milk as long as they do not have any allergies or lactose intolerance. Whole milk is recommended for toddlers since it contains the necessary fats and calories they need for growth and development.

3. How often should I offer milk to my 20-month-old?

Your 20-month-old toddler should have three meals per day, along with snacks and drinks in between meals. You can offer milk with each meal or as a snack in between meals.

4. Can I reduce the amount of milk if my toddler eats other dairy products?

If your 20-month-old toddler has other dairy products like cheese, yogurt, or cottage cheese throughout the day, you may reduce the amount of milk accordingly. However, make sure they are getting enough calcium-rich foods to maintain their bone health.

5. Should my 20-month-old drink water instead of milk?

Water should be offered alongside milk as a vital part of hydration for your toddler. However, milk provides necessary nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D that water cannot offer

6. What are signs that my toddler is consuming too much milk?

  • Tummy troubles like constipation, diarrhea or bloating
  • Lack of appetite for other foods due to feeling too full from milk
  • Iron deficiency anemia, which can develop if too much milk replaces iron-rich foods in your toddler’s diet

7. What factors can affect how much milk my 20-month-old needs?

  • Weight and height of your toddler
  • Activity level – more active toddlers may require more calories and fluids
  • The season- water requirements need to be adjusted during summer or hot seasons.

In conclusion: While 16-24 ounces of milk per day is recommended, other factors should be considered when considering the adequate amount of milk for 20 month old toddlers. If in doubt, consult your pediatrician or nutritionist for advice.

keys takeaways

How Much Milk Does a 20-Month-Old Need?

Here are the top 4 takeaways to keep in mind when deciding how much milk to give your 20-month-old:

  1. Follow Your Baby’s Lead: Every child is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Watch your child for signs of hunger and fullness, and adjust accordingly.
  2. Stick to Guideline Amounts: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving toddlers 2-3 cups of milk per day. This can include other dairy products like cheese and yogurt.
  3. Avoid Overfeeding: Too much milk can fill up your baby’s tummy and lead to reduced intake of solid foods, which offer important nutrients like iron and fiber. Don’t force extra milk if your child isn’t hungry.
  4. Offer Water Throughout the Day: As your child drinks more milk, they may become less thirsty for water. Keep offering water throughout the day to ensure they stay hydrated, especially during meal times.

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