How to Help Your Baby Embrace the Goodness of Cow’s Milk Day 2: How to Help Your Baby Embrace the Goodness of Cow Milk

How to Help Your Baby Embrace the Goodness of Cow’s Milk

Yesterday, we discussed the types of milk that can be given to babies once they cross their 1 year milestone. Today we dive deep into one of India’s favorite beverages: cow’s milk!

If parents choose to introduce cow’s milk to their baby, this article is a perfect guide.

Breastfeeding Is Best

No matter how many times we say it, it’s not enough! Breastfeeding comes highly recommended by WHO for babies up to 2 years of age (if you have been breastfeeding, that is). Any introduction of supplementary milk, be it cow's milk or plant-based alternatives, should begin after the baby reaches 1 year.

If you choose to continue breastfeeding beyond 1 year, and your baby still receives at least four feeds a day, it’s not necessary to offer them any other milk.

Our Recommendation: Whole Fat Cow's Milk

Experts and nutritionists recommend introducing only whole fat cow's milk to babies 1 year onwards. Cow’s milk has plenty of nutritional benefits, including healthy fats (for brain development), calcium (for strong bones and teeth), essential calories (for healthy weight gain), and additional nutrients like Vitamin A, and fortified Vitamin D and zinc. Cow's milk is also a dense source of energy, which all growing babies need!

Things to Remember Before You Start the Transition

Here are some essential steps to help your baby smoothly transition to cow's milk:

1) Ease into it: Introduce very small amounts of cow's milk (around 20-30 ml or 1-2 tablespoons a day), when your baby is 11-12 months old. This helps babies get used to the new flavor. Babies are actually used to the taste of milk (formula or breast).

2) Reduce milk consumption: Until 1 year, breast or formula milk is your baby’s main meal. After 1 year, cow's milk can complement the baby’s meal but it’s not the main meal. 

Overall milk consumption should be reduced after the baby turns 1, so they have space for solid food. Gradually reduce the frequency of breast/formula feeds.

3) Follow the daily dairy limit: The recommended limit for your baby's total dairy consumption (includes cow's milk + breast/formula feed + any dairy product) should not exceed 500 ml or 500 grams in a day. 

For a balanced meal, keep their daily milk intake (breast/formula and cow's milk) at 350-400 ml. And add small amounts of dairy products (curd, cheese, or paneer) in their meals. 

Avoid giving excessive dairy, as it affects iron absorption, leads to digestive issues, or reduces their appetite for solid foods

4) Be patient: The move from breast or formula milk to cow's milk can look different from baby to baby. Some adapt, but many need time and patience. 

Two Approaches That Parents Can Use

When it comes to making the transition to cow's milk, you have two main approaches to consider after your baby turns 1.

1) Quick transition

This method involves a swift switch from breast or formula feeds to cow's milk, similar to going “cold turkey.” 

But remember that this approach will only work well with certain babies. If your 1-year-old baby is already eating solid foods with enthusiasm, has independently reduced their consumption of breast/formula milk, and has been introduced to very small amounts of cow's milk during mealtime since they were 11-12 months, then this method is more likely to be successful.

2) Gradual transition

This approach is more comfortable and well-received by most babies, as it provides a gentler and more manageable shift. The process for gradual transition may vary depending on whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding (expressed breast milk or formula).

For breastfeeding moms:

  • At around 11-12 months, start introducing small quantities of cow's milk alongside your baby's meals. Gradually increase this quantity while reducing the number of breastfeeds.
  • After they turn 1, eliminate one breastfeed at a time. (e.g.: start with that one feed that's easiest to skip). Give them cow's milk in small quantities. With time, reduce breastfeeds and increase cow's milk.

WE SUGGEST: If you continue breastfeeding and your baby gets 4 feeds a day, then cow's milk is not a must. Use an approach that works best for you and your baby.

For bottle-feeding moms:

This approach is tailored for mothers offering bottle feeds, whether it's expressed breast milk or formula, to their babies.

  • Start initially by mixing cow's milk with the breast/formula milk you typically use in the bottle. Gradually reduce the quantity of breast/formula milk while increasing the cow's milk. For example, start with a combination pattern of 25% cow's milk and 75% breast/formula milk.
  • Once your baby comfortably accepts this, you can try 50% cow's milk and 50% breast/formula milk. After a few days, reduce the breast/formula milk to 25% while increasing cow's milk to 75%. Finally, you can fully transition to using only cow's milk in their bottle.

WE SUGGEST: Choose the approach that is in line with your baby's temperament, preferences, and your own comfort. These kinds of transitions take time, so be patient and your baby will adapt soon!.


Some Last Tips

1) Serve milk at room temperature: Babies are used to drinking breast or formula milk, which are usually at a slightly warmer temperature. Giving cow's milk at a similar temperature can help your baby adjust more comfortably. If milk is refrigerated, warm it slightly before giving.

2) Incorporate milk into meals and snacks: Give milk during mealtimes or snack breaks rather than in between meals. This lets your baby enjoy milk in a relaxed, no-pressure environment. Initially, encourage your little one to take small sips, gradually increasing their intake over time.

3) Set an example: If you drink milk and/or are not lactose-intolerant, you can model drinking milk yourself in front of your baby. Use a straw cup or open cup and sip from it. Babies often want to emulate adults, so this can help them feel more excited to enjoy milk as part of their routine.

4) Transition from bottle to straw or open cup: This is the topic of our next article, so stay tuned. But do encourage your baby to switch from a bottle to a cup, as it’s an essential skill they need to learn. 

Let’s Talk About Allergies, Constipation, or General Dislike

Allergies or intolerance: Milk is a common allergenic food. As you start offering larger quantities of milk, children may exhibit signs of allergies or intolerances. Always stay observant and attentive for any allergic reactions or intolerance symptoms.

Constipation: One reason for this could also be too much milk consumption. When babies begin drinking higher quantities of milk, they may have temporary constipation. Keep an eye on your baby's overall fluid intake and diet. If constipation is worrisome, speak to your pediatrician.

General dislike: Many babies may not take to the taste of milk, which worries parents. If your baby doesn't seem to like milk, it’s okay. Try to include dairy products into their meals.


WE SUGGEST: Don’t worry if your baby isn't initially fond of milk. Continue giving them opportunities to explore and accept it. Over time, they will get used to it. 


Learn the right ways to nourish from experts