Q&A: When can babies have cow’s milk

Posted in All, Babies, Feeding Babies and tagged , .

Weaning is another one of those stages in your baby’s life that you may have very mixed feelings about. Yes, it’s a sign of their ongoing growth and independence, but it also brings an end to breastfeeding or bottle feeding. It may also have you wondering, what next?

The answer to that question is usually cow’s milk and we’re here to help when it comes to introducing it into your little one’s diet.

When should my baby start drinking cow’s milk?

The Australian Breastfeeding Association states that infants under the age of twelve months still require breastmilk, or formula, to be their main source of nutrition. As a general rule, you’ll find most medical practitioners, midwives and child health nurses will recommend you start introducing milk as a drink into your baby’s diet around the time they turn one.

If your little one is a bit ahead or behind the curve with their journey into solids, don’t stress. As with most things baby-related, this is just a guideline. Work with your baby and see what works and what doesn’t for them as you begin the weaning process.

Why not before 12 months?

Milk contains a number of proteins and minerals that are just too much for your baby’s developing tummy to handle. Around the age of one, your bub’s tum and digestive tract are considered mature enough to process these components more effectively.

My baby is ready for cow’s milk, where do I begin?

Whilst your baby may not have drunk cow’s milk before, it is important to have introduced a range of other dairy products, such as cheese or yoghurt, before their first birthday. Not only are these great nutritious first foods, they’ll also give you a reasonable idea of whether your little one is going to be lactose intolerant.

If your baby has shown no signs of tummy upsets from dairy products, how you choose to introduce milk is entirely up to you. Some parents like to do a bit of mixing with formula, and progressively reduce the ratio of formula to milk. Others will just offer small cups of milk here and there until their little one decides they (and their tummies) are happy with the change.

The main thing is just to stick to full-fat milk, not skim. You’ll also want to try to ensure they don’t drink any more than about 500mL per day. Excess consumption of dairy products in toddlers can lead to an iron deficiency further down the track.

My baby hates milk, now what?

Don’t stress – kids don’t actually need milk to fulfil their dietary requirements. What they do need is calcium and there are plenty of other places you can get this, from other dairy sources to alternative milk options.


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