Should I force my daughter to drink milk?

My ten-year-old daughter adamantly refuses to drink milk. Elders in the house insist that she should. But I have read that it’s not essential for children to do so, and that they can instead consume dairy products of their choice. Should I force her to drink milk? She is a healthy and active child. — Kamini Kochar, Mumbai

Please don’t force children to drink milk. The child seems to be in good physical health. Consuming other dairy products supplemented with a healthy balanced diet is sufficient to ensure a child’s physical well-being.

My daughter is a class VIII student of a private school. Of late, some of her classmates have contracted viral fever, although my daughter has not shown any symptoms of infection. What precautions should I take to prevent her contracting viral fever because not all students remain at home until they are fully recovered? — Shalini Nair, Kochi

It is the responsibility of the school management to ensure the safety of its students. The school’s health policy should forbid any child from returning to school before total recovery and awareness/education programmes should emphasise children maintaining basic hygiene such as washing their hands after using the toilet and using handkerchief to cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing. There are no drugs to prevent viral fever. In some special cases influenza vaccines can be administered after consulting a doctor.
Help your daughter develop better immunity by ensuring she eats a healthy balanced diet.

My husband has the habit of drinking chilled water during meals. My children aged 12 and eight years are also picking up this habit from him. I have heard different opinions about drinking cold water and I’m not sure if it should be avoided, or is it harmless. Does drinking chilled water cause throat infections? — Mrinal Mathur, Vishakapatnam

If your husband/children suffer recurrent tonsillitis, throat infections or develop asthma, it means that they are most probably affected by the cold water consumption. In such cases it is best to avoid it. It would be better if water is boiled before chilling. Try to slowly change your children’s preference from cold to lukewarm water.

For the past two months I have noticed that my 14-year-old son tends to get a slight fever on the days that he has sports practice in school. Is it the result of strenuous physical exercise? Should I consult a doctor? — Sulochana Rangachari, Chennai

A slight increase in body temperature after physical exercise is okay. There is no reason to panic. But it is best to consult a doctor if you have also observed symptoms such as severe body pain, extreme tiredness or change in urine colour.

(Dr. Soja Vijayan is assistant professor of paediatrics at the Malabar Medical College, Kozhikode)

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