Common Formula-Feeding Problems
Medical associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies be given human milk or an iron-fortified, commercial infant formula for the first year of life. After that, your baby will transition to cow’s milk.
Why do babies have to wait until they are 12 months old to drink to cow’s milk?
Your baby’s digestive system isn’t ready to digest the proteins in cow’s milk until he reaches his first birthday. Cow’s milk also lacks many of the essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, zinc, and iron, that help an infant stay healthy and grow. And it has too much of other things, like sodium, potassium, and chloride, that could affect your baby’s kidneys. Introducing cow’s milk before your baby is a year old could result in iron deficiency, allergic reactions, and even internal bleeding.
Yikes. So why would I ever want to give my baby cow’s milk?
Once your baby hits his first birthday, his digestive system is ready for regular milk and all of its benefits. Milk contains almost all of the basic nutrients your growing toddler needs: fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and (with the exception of iron) minerals. The calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin D found in most milk can help strengthen bones and teeth, fortify blood and muscles, and may help stave off many diseases – from high blood pressure to colon cancer – later in life.
So how should I make the transition?
Your baby may accept cow’s milk in place of formula right after his first birthday without a fuss. But if your child is reluctant to transition, try gradually introducing cow’s milk by mixing a little whole milk into formula and then slowly increasing the proportion of milk to formula until he’s drinking whole milk entirely, without formula.
What sort of cow’s milk should I give my toddler?
Initially, unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, you should give your child whole milk. Growing babies need the calories and fat found in whole milk as they develop. After your child’s second birthday, you should talk to your child’s pediatrician about transitioning to reduced-fat or nonfat milk. Children who are at risk of being overweight or who have a family history of heart disease, obesity or high cholesterol may be advised to switch to reduced-fat milk sooner – generally sometime between 12 and 24 months.
Do I need to buy milk that is organic or hormone-free?
Opinions differ on whether you need to pay extra for organic milk, and many milk brands that are not organic still note on their labels that they come from cows free of artificial growth hormones. If you’re confused about what to do, speak with your child’s pediatrician.