According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, approximately 30 million Americans are lactose intolerant, many of them children. In fact, congential lactose intolerance is something that can be inherited for infants. Being cautious and aware of the types of foods a child eats does not mean he or she has to sacrifice taste. According to the Mayo Clinic there are many lactose-free dietary options and recipes that allow children to enjoy food and still maintain the nutrition that is needed.
Many parents might have concerns that a lactose-intolerant child will miss out on the proper amount of calcium and vitamin D that dairy products usually provide. Luckily, there are many foods and beverages that are fortified with calcium. Many fruit juices (orange and apple especially) are made with calcium already provided.
If you would still like to include a milk substitute in your child's diet , there are many options. Most grocers carry the lactose-reduced milk, Lactaid brand milk, and soy and almond milk. These products are calcium fortified, can be used in place of regular milk with most foods and recipes. Some dairy-free or lactose-reduced products are quite expensive. These types of products are also good sources of vitamin D.
It is very easy to provide well-balanced meals for your child with foods and beverages that do not contain lactose, but are still tasty and satisfying. Most fresh or frozen vegetables, and all fresh fruits are free of lactose. As long as vegetables have not been prepared with a cream or cheese base a child should be able to enjoy them. Similarly, foods like fish, meats, nuts and vegetable oils can also be enjoyed. It is also important for parents to provide their children with a diet high in vitamin D and calcium. Some of the options for this are salmon, almonds and tuna fish. Cereals, breads, pastries and pastas are also foods that are often fortified with vitamin D or calcium.