Your baby needs a great amount of vitamins and nutrients to grow and develop, and cow’s milk can play a part. Before your child’s first birthday, he or she receives the right amount of vitamins and nutrients through formula or breast milk.
After your child’s first birthday, they can be introduced to whole (cow’s) milk to continue to develop and grow properly.
It is important to wait until after your child’s first birthday before giving him or her cow’s milk. Your baby’s digestive system cannot properly digest the cow’s milk proteins before they reach the one-year mark.
Cow’s milk contains too much of the following: chloride, potassium, and sodium. These can be detrimental to the functioning of your baby’s kidneys.
Can I give my baby cow’s milk? Answer: After 1 Year
Most importantly though, is that cow’s milk lacks the vitamins and minerals your baby needs to properly grow and develop in their first year of life, especially vitamin E, iron and zinc. Giving your baby cow’s milk before his or her first birthday could run the dangers of internal bleeding or an iron deficiency.
Once your baby is ready for cow’s milk, it becomes the most important form of nutrients. Cow’s milk is a great source of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A that will help build your child’s bones and teeth. It will also help your child’s muscles.
A Note on Vitamin D
Most milk is fortified with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb the calcium it needs. Milk provides protein for growth and carbohydrates that give your child the energy he or she needs to play all day long.
When transitioning from breast milk or formula to cow’s milk, some children have no problem. Because of the different texture, taste and temperature cow’s milk has compared to breast milk or formula, other children have trouble making the transition. If your child is having trouble making the switch, try mixing cow’s milk with some breast milk or formula. Gradually shift the ratio until your baby is drinking 100% cow’s milk.
Children between the ages of one and two should consume between 16 and 24 ounces of cow’s milk per day. Note that it is possible for your child to consume too much. More than two to three glasses during the day can fill your child up, making him or her less likely to be hungry at dinner for other foods they need in their diet.
While other members of your household may drink lower-fat versions of milk, it is extremely important your child starts with the ‘whole’ version rather than fat reduced. Cow’s milk has more fat, and your child needs the higher fat and caloric content for his or her growth and development. In fact, children under the age of two should consume half of their total caloric intake from fats. Once your child celebrates their third birthday, you can switch them to lower fat milks.
Some children simply do not like the taste of milk, making it difficult for them to meet the minimum 16-oz. requirement. If you’ve tried everything, remember there are many ways to sneak milk into your child’s diet. Serve him or her puddings, custards and shakes for snacks. Make their soup with milk rather than water, and add a milk-based sauce to gravy and casseroles.
Your Baby’s Tastes and Allergies
If your child does not like the taste of milk, if they have a dairy allergy, or if your family is vegan, soy milk can be substituted for cow’s milk. Make sure you check the labels of the soy milk because not all varieties have the same nutritional value. While some soy milk brands are fortified with vitamin D, vitamin A and calcium, others are not. The amount of calcium and other nutrients can also vary, so make sure you purchase those that have the greatest nutritional value.
If your child is allergic to milk, make sure to avoid milk-based products, such as cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt and butter. You’ll also need to avoid products that have cow’s milk proteins, such as casein and whey.
Milk and Your Baby
Remember that milk is an essential part of your child’s diet, but do not give your baby milk until after his or her first birthday. If your child is refusing to make the transition, or if you believe your baby may have a milk allergy, it is always best to consult your child’s pediatrician for advice.