Broccoli provides crunch and a non-dairy source of calcium.

Snacks for Kids With Dairy Allergies

by Bonnie Swain Schindly

A cold glass of milk is anything but refreshing to a child suffering from dairy allergies. Painful symptoms include an itchy rash and bloody diarrhea. Dairy products are great sources of calcium, which growing kids need in abundance. To ensure that your kids are getting the necessary calcium in their diets, stock up on some key non-dairy, high-calcium snacks. Always work closely with your pediatrician as you introduce nondairy foods to your child. Some milk substitutes trigger similar reactions among youngsters who cannot digest cow's milk. Your doctor may recommend a supplement to ensure adequate absorption of calcium.

1. Smoothies

Make a fruit smoothie, which can stand on its own without the milk. Whirl some chunks of peaches, melon or strawberries in a blender, along with ice cubes and calcium-fortified orange juice. Not only do you avoid dairy products, but you put some overripe fruit to good use by juicing instead of discarding it. Let kids create their own smoothies based on their personal preferences.

2. Crunch

Choose non-dairy snacks that are loaded with as much crunchiness as they are nutrients. For example, raw broccoli spears contain 180 milligrams of calcium per stalk. Compare that to the recommended daily allowances of calcium established for each age group, such as the 500 mg suggested for a 3-year-old and up to 1,300 mg a day required by teenagers. Look for flour or corn tortilla chips that are infused with calcium. Serve broccoli stalks and chips with some salsa for a healthy snack.

3. Substitutes

Many kids with dairy allergies can tolerate soy- or rice-based products, including milk and puddings. But before you load your grocery cart with special sorbets and ice pops, allow your youngster to sample a few. Some kids cannot stomach substitutes any more than they can handle traditional dairy items. In addition, dairy allergies are not the same as lactose intolerance, so don't assume that anything labeled lactose-free is an automatic fit for your child, warns KidsHealth.com.

4. Breakfast Food

Food makers infuse calcium into certain breakfast products because many youngsters lack adequate amounts in their daily diets. Incorporate some of these items into your child's everyday snack routine. For example, prepare calcium-fortified pancakes or waffles with some peanut butter or maple syrup as a quick treat. Or offer cereal that's loaded with extra calcium along with some soy or rice milk. Top with a sprinkle of almonds, which are naturally rich in calcium.

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