This post answers questions like: When can a baby have cow milk, Is cow milk good for you and How to introduce cow milk to your baby. Answers are all from a mom of a 7 year old with a baby on the way. I am not a doctor, just a mom who has asked her doctor lots of questions to help guide her to make the best choices for her family.
I am excited to partner with Florida Milk on this post. As always opinions are 100% my own.
It is no secret that we LOVE milk. Currently, we have 4 cartons of milk in our refrigerator because we go through it so quickly. Milk is B’s favorite drink she enjoys it at breakfast, snack and dinner. And Kurt believes that both breakfast and dessert is not complete without a glass of cold milk. Now that we have a baby on the way I have started to educate B on when a baby can have cow milk.
When Can a Baby have Cow Milk
Since B loves milk so much she wanted to know when she could share her milk with her baby brother, who is arriving in May. So at a recent appointment we asked our Pediatrician. He shared that The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends feeding babies only breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula as the main source of nutrition for the first 6 months of life. Then, you can start introducing other foods like iron and zinc baby cereals. They recommend introducing one ingredient at a time so you can monitor to see if there is an unhealthy reaction. After that, the AAP recommends a combination of solid foods and breast milk or formula until a baby is at least 1 year old.
By age 1, your baby should be eating a variety of other foods as well as drinking about 2–3 cups of milk each day. You may want to slowly work up to 2-3 cups a day.
Cow milk is recommended because the extra calories and fat are needed for healthy growth and development. Make sure to also include a variety of healthy foods as well. If you want to introduce juice or plant-based milk alternatives do not give your baby more than 4oz a day.
Children are generally not recommended to drink plant-based beverages unless recommended by your pediatrician. This recommendation may be made for children with allergies or intolerances to cow’s milk.
If you are nursing and it is working for both you and your baby you can continue to nurse. Some kids will start to give you clues that they are ready to wean. According to Kids Health some of the signs include:
- Being fussy when nursing or disinterested
- Distracted while nursing
- Nursing in shorter sessions than before
- Constantly pulling on and off or biting
- Nursing for comfort and not for eating
Whole Milk or Low Fat Milk
From a year to 2 years you should feed your child whole milk. After 2 years you can make a switch to low-fat or nonfat milk. If a toddler is overweight or there is a family history of obesity, high cholesterol, or heart problems, your doctor might recommend switching to reduced fat (2% and 1%) milk.
Is Cow Milk Good for You
Milk is an important part of a toddler’s diet because it provides calcium and vitamin D, which help build strong bones. Cow’s milk also has 9 essential vitamins and nutrients. Most kids under age 2 should drink whole milk for the dietary fats needed for normal growth and brain development.
How to Introduce Cow Milk to your Baby
When transitioning from breast milk or formula you may find that it is best to mix whole milk with formula or breast milk and gradually adjust the mixture so that it eventually becomes 100% cow’s milk.
Between 12 and 18 months of age is a good time for transition from a bottle to a cup. We had better success with slowly eliminating a bottle at a time instead of eliminating all of them at the same time. You can offer whole milk in a cup after your child has started a meal.
According to Medline Plus the US Department of Agriculture recommends the following daily amounts of dairy for children and teens:
- 2 through 3 years old: 2 cups
- 4 through 8 years old: 2½ cups
- 9 through 18 years old: 3 cups
One cup of dairy equal:
While my daughter would prefer to drink her daily amount in milk, not all kids are the same. Here is an easy way to help you figure out how much dairy to feed your kids. All of the following options are equal to 1 cup of milk.
- Eight ounces of yogurt
- Two ounces of processed American cheese
- One cup of pudding made with milk
Looking for other dairy recipes to try. Check out some of my favorites:
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