For most of your baby’s life you will have been worrying about whether or not they are getting the right amount of milk. You will have been breastfeeding, bottle feeding or combination feeding for the first twelve months and then all of a sudden that changes.
At twelve months you are allowed to give your child cows milk and although it can seem like a simple switch it’s not always the easiest. Believe me.
When Molly hit 12 months I thought I would try and move her on to cows milk straight away. It didn’t work. I tried all the tricks I’ll detail below but she refused it and so we continued to give her the formula she had been having since six months old. She would happily guzzle bottles of this but refused it if I so much as put a splash of cows milk in. It got to the point where I just stopped trying to give it her as it wasn’t working. By this time I also had Alice and so the battle was not one that was worth me fighting and I was buying formula for Alice as she got older so they both just carried on. It was only whilst away in Devon when Molly was nearly three that I managed the switch. I wanted to move Alice on to cows milk and somehow miraculously they both started drinking it. I wonder if it was due to the water being different and making their formula taste different. We will never know!
When To Make The Switch
Breast milk or formula should be given until 12 months as opposed to cows milk or other alternatives such as almond or coconut milk. It is recommended that you wait until 12 months to start giving your baby cows milk as it isn’t as easily digestible as breast milk or formula. It can also be high in protein and minerals which can be problematic for your baby’s digestive system and kidneys. Of course you may choose to continue breastfeeding past 12 months and there is no need to wean your baby off breast milk in order to introduce cows milk.
You can introduce cows milk and dairy mixed with their food from 6 months.
The benefits of cows milk once they hit 12 months is that is contains high levels of calcium and is a great source of vitamin D, all essential for strong bones and growth.
How Much Milk Should They Have?
It is recommended that your toddler has around one and a half cups of milk a day (between 8 to 12 ounces) and by two years old they should be having around 2 cups. This should provide all the nutrients they need. You shouldn’t give them more than four cups a day as it can be too much for their body to process.
You should make sure you use full fat cows milk or other milk alternatives until they are two years old when you can switch to semi skimmed if you prefer.
How To Make The Switch
For some it’s an easy switch but as I mentioned above it’s not always straightforward. Cows milk has a different texture and taste which can take some getting used to. Much like when you try to move a baby from breast milk to formula you can be met with resistance.
The first trick is to mix a small amount of cows milk with their normal milk. Try a splash at first and slowly increase the ratios until you are able to move purely to cows milk. This may need to be done over a period of tea.
Try using cows milk in cooking or on their breakfast. Mixing it in with food will start to get them used to the taste.
If they are filling up on food and refusing the milk try giving them a small cup of milk about half an hour before their meal.
If they still refuse the milk then you can get calcium in to them via other dairy based products such as cheese and yoghurts.
Exceptions & Allergies
There may be times when you are unable to give your baby cows milk due to allergies, intolerances or if you are vegan. In these cases your doctor should be able to recommend alternatives. You could try soya milk or almond milk instead. Again use the tips above to try and introduce it. I was given a lot of goats milk as a child as the dairy aggravated my eczema. Might explain my love of goats cheese now!
Your baby should be able to tolerate cows milk as they will likely have been exposed to cows milk protein via your breast milk or a cows milk based formula. If you are concerned about any symptoms or changes in your baby after making the switch please do speak to your doctor.
You can read more about Cows Milk Protein Intolerance here.
Are you ready to make the move to cow’s milk or how did you find the switch?