Ask Claire: Got Too Much Milk?

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Can my 2-year-old have too much milk?

Can my 2-year-old have too much milk? My daughter downs close to 32 ounces a day!

Yes, 32 ounces is too much cow’s milk for a 2-year-old. In fact, it’s too much for any child: 16 to 24 ounces of low-fat milk is plenty. Children who drink more than that have a higher risk of being overweight, constipated, and even anemic (since they may be too full to eat enough iron-rich food and may also suffer minor blood loss from the intestinal irritation that excessive milk consumption can cause).

To reduce your child’s intake, try to avoid refilling the sippy cup all day. If she’s thirsty between meals, water is the healthiest option. Grapes (quartered), strawberries, and melon are healthy and thirst-quenching, too. Also try saving milk for mealtimes and serving food first so she doesn’t tank up on liquid.

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Send her your health questions at