Should a Toddler Drink Sweet Acidophilus Milk?

As your baby grows into a toddler, your doctor may suggest switching his diet from formula or breast milk to cow's milk. You might wonder whether alternatives to regular cow's milk -- such as sweet acidophilus milk -- are acceptable or beneficial for your toddler. In most cases, your toddler can drink this product, but talk to his doctor before changing his diet.

Sweet Acidophilus Milk Defined

Sweet acidophilus milk is pasteurized cow's milk to which live cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus, a type of beneficial bacteria called a probiotic, have been added. Probiotics populate the intestines and help control the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Unlike fermented dairy products, which have a tart flavor, sweet acidophilus tastes like regular milk. Lactobacillus acidophilus comes in various strains, with strain NCFM the most commonly used in commercial products, according to "Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease."

Possible Benefits

glass of milk and bottle of milk on the wood table.

Can Babies Drink Silk Soy Milk?

Learn More

Probiotics can help restore the balance between good and harmful bacteria in the intestines. However, not all probiotics, or even all strains of lactobacillus, have the same benefits. Lactobacillus GG has been shown to reduce the risk of infectious diarrhea, as well as diarrhea caused by antibiotics. But lactobacillus acidophilus hasn't always shown the same effect, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. In a study published in the July 2009 issue of "Pediatrics," acidophilus or acidophilus combined with Bifidobacterium animalis taken over a six-month period by children ages 3 to 5 reduced respiratory illness symptoms. Fever was reduced by 53 percent, coughing by 41 percent and runny noses by 28 percent. These studies were not done using sweet acidophilus milk, however.

Lactose Intolerance

If your toddler is lactose intolerant, sweet acidophilus milk won't necessarily reduce his symptoms. Most studies don't show that adding acidophilus to milk reduces the lactose content of the milk, probably because of the low concentration of acidophilus in the milk, according to "Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease." In studies that did show a benefit, the amount of acidophilus given was higher than that typically found in sweet acidophilus milk.


glass of milk and bottle of milk on the wood table.

Hemp Milk vs. Oat Milk for Toddlers

Learn More

Some toddlers should not drink sweet acidophilus milk. If your child has a milk allergy, sweet acidophilus milk, which contains cow's milk, will not be a safe alternative. Acidophilus does not alter the proteins in milk, which cause allergic reactions in susceptible children. Children with a compromised immune system also should not consume probiotics such as acidophilus unless approved by their physician, the University of Maryland Medical Center cautions.