Parenting is a minefield of information; it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and struggle to remember things, and milk is one area that can become confusing.
When to introduce cows milk to a baby is a bit of a minefield of conflicting information and opinions if you ask in mums groups, so it’s always best to consult the NHS guidelines for evidence based and factual information.
I don’t want to introduce cows milk…
Cool, that’s your prerogative, mama! Lots of vegan mamas, or mamas of children with milk allergies choose to opt for plant based milk. Alpro Soya Growing Up Milk is a very popular option!
Other alternatives like nut, coconut and seed based milk aren’t suitable as a drink at this stage as they don’t contain enough energy or nutrition, but are fine to be used in cooking. Rice milk shouldn’t be given before the age of 5 as it’s high in naturally occurring arsenic.
When can I add cows milk to food?
From 6 months. If medically advised to wean before 6 months (a paediatric dietitian is the best person to give this guidance) then you should still avoid dairy until 6 months.
When can I replace formula with cows milk?
From 12 months of age, although some mums continue using follow-on formula for a while longer if their child prefers it.
Milk given should be whole (full fat) until the age of 2, at which point semi skimmed can be offered as long as your little one has a varied diet. 1% fat/skimmed milk isn’t suitable before the age of 5, but can be used in cooking from the age of one.
Why not earlier?
Cows milk contains proteins and sugars that your little one’s digestive system is unlikely to be mature enough to break down until around the 12 month mark.
Yes, formula contains cows milk, but it’s broken down and formulated to be easier digested than pure cows milk. Some mums choose to switch early regardless of the NHS guidance and their babies don’t experience issues, but your child may be different so it’s best to talk to a professional.
My little one is refusing formula earlier than 12 months – what do I do?
My Max did this at 9 months and it was a bleedin’ nightmare! Before resorting to cows milk or any plant based milk, please see your GP or call your Health Visitor for guidance. Milk should be the main source of nutrition for a child until 12 months, so it is good to discuss alternatives with a professional to ensure your wee one gets everything that they need to grow big and strong.
On occasion, if all else fails, you may be advised to switch early and give a multivitamin – however, this should be done under medical guidance only.
I hope that this guide helps!
Love from Katie. Xx
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