Why should I wait until my baby is at least 12 months old to introduce cow's milk? Babies can't digest cow's milk as completely or easily as breast milk or formula. Cow's milk contains high concentrations of protein and minerals, which can tax your baby's immature kidneys. Cow's milk doesn't have the right amounts of iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients for infants. It may even cause iron-deficiency anemia in some babies, since cow's milk protein can irritate the lining of the digestive system, leading to blood in the stools.
Finally, cow's milk doesn't provide the healthiest types of fat for growing babies. However, once your child's ready to digest it, dairy milk can supplement a balanced diet of solid foods that include cereals, vegetables, fruits and meats. Why should my child start drinking cow's milk? Milk is a rich source of calcium, which builds strong bones and teeth and helps regulate blood clotting and muscle control.
It's also one of the few sources of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and is crucial for bone growth. (Almost all milk in the United States is fortified with vitamin D.) Milk also provides protein for growth, and carbohydrates to give your child the energy he needs all day. And if your child gets enough calcium from the get-go, there's evidence that he'll have a lower risk of high blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer, and hip fractures later in life.
Feeding timeline: Your child's development From solid food to sippy cups, spoons, and kids' ability to feed themselves, here are the major eating milestones and when to expect them. See all baby videos Do I need to stop breastfeeding when my child starts drinking cow's milk? There's no need to wean your child after you introduce cow's milk. As long as you both enjoy breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it's fine to continue breastfeeding past your child's first birthday.
How much milk should my toddler drink? According to the AAP, your 1-year-old can get enough calcium and vitamin D from 8 to 12 ounces (1 to 1 1/2 cups) of cow's milk – or the equivalent amount of other milk products, like yogurt or cheese. By age 2, your child should get 16 ounces, or 2 cups, of cow's milk or other milk products each day. However, don't give your child more than 32 ounces (4 cups) of milk a day or she may not have room for the other foods she needs to round out her diet.
If your toddler's still thirsty, offer water.See Also: Cow & Gate Baby Milk
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Like many moms who are ready to wean their babies from the breast or bottle, it’s not hard to imagine why you might be eager to make the switch (you’re buying milk for the rest of the family already, for one thing). But while cow’s milk may be fine for a little heifer, a little human is better off not touching the stuff until he’s 12 months old for a variety of reasons: His body won’t be able to digest the proteins in cow’s milk; drinking it too soon may even put him at risk of developing an allergy to it.
Cow’s milk doesn’t have all the nutrients (such as vitamin E and zinc) a baby needs to grow and develop during his first year. It could overtax his kidneys: Cow’s milk has more sodium, potassium, and chloride than a baby can process. He could wind up with an iron deficiency: Babies under a year aren’t able to fully absorb the iron in cow’s milk. But once your little guy turns one, it time to mooove right along to cow’s milk and try on that milk mustache.
Milk is an ideal source of bone-boosting calcium, as well as vitamin D, which helps the body take in all that calcium. Vitamin D is also emerging as a super-nutrient: Research is finding that it protects against all sorts of conditions, from diabetes to cancer. So let him wash down that first slice of birthday cake with a cup full of the white stuff. If he’s on the heavy side compared with most babies his age, it’s okay to give him the low-fat variety; otherwise, stick with whole milk until he turns two and then switch over.
(If you’re not sure which kind your baby should be imbibing, check with the pediatrician.) Just limit his intake to two or three servings a day, so he has room in his stomach for the other good stuff. But just because your one-year-old baby is ready for milk doesn’t necessarily mean his taste buds will be up for it. After all, breast milk and formula are sweeter and have a different consistency from straight cow’s milk — meaning that you might have to help your child acquire a taste for it.
Short of stirring in a spoonful of sugar to help the moo juice go down (definitely something that’s NOT recommended), what can you do to get him to drink up? These tips can make it easier to tempt your tot: Mix it up. To help your child get used to the different taste and “mouth feel” of cow’s milk, serve it blended with breast milk or formula, gradually increasing the amount of milk in the mix.
For instance, start with three-quarters of a cup of breast milk or formula to a quarter cup of milk. After a few days, go half and half, and so on. Sneak it in. Ideally, you want your child to take at least some of his milk straight. But it’s perfectly fine to pour some of his daily allotment over cereal (as long as he slurps up what’s left in the bowl after the Cheerios are all gone), or use it in cooked cereals, like oatmeal, instead of water, or blend it in a smoothie.
You can also sneak milk into soups, mac and cheese, or mashed potatoes. Make milk part of the “cocktail” hour. Some children prefer the colorful, yummy food on their plate to the plain Jane white liquid in their cup — meaning they’ll fill up on food and won’t have room for milk. In that case, it’s a good idea to offer a cup of milk about an hour before the meal, or as part of a healthy snack.
You might also think about cutting off the juice supply and sticking to milk or water as the beverages of choice. If he’s thirsty enough, he may opt for milk. Go to plan B. If all else fails and your child turns up his little button nose at milk no matter what you do, go ahead and give him yogurt, cheese, and other calcium-rich foods. Just be aware that most alternative sources of calcium tend not to have adequate amounts of vitamin D, so if you go that route, look for foods that have added D, and let your pediatrician know what’s going on.
Your child may be prescribed a supplement. Bottoms up!