Switching from Breastfeeding to Whole Cow's Milk

Updated on October 20, 2008
C.M. asks from New York, NY
18 answers

My question is how to do the switch. I have been breastfeeding for the past year, and would like to stop pumping at work. I thought that at a year, I could just switch to whole milk, but my daughter won't have any of it (she's only had formula a handful of times and normally doesn't like that much either). This weekend, I tried to give her 100% cow's milk (she refused) and then cut my breast milk 50/50 and then 75/25 with breast/cow's milk, but she still refused. i didn't nurse her then, but later in the day (around 5 when I normally come home) I did nurse her AND she was up a lot nursing, too (though she's always up a lot nursing). my nanny is coming tomorrow and I am probably going to have the nanny add a splash of whole cow's milk to my breast milk and gradually add more and more cow's milk. how long should this take? any suggestions for a picky milk-eater? thanks in advance.

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G.C.

answers from New York on

I had the same problem when my little one was a year old. She refused whole milk but was interested in drinking out of a regular cup. Eventually we got the idea to give her vanilla soy milk (Silk brand) in a cup, and she started drinking that. Then we started giving her 1/2 vanilla soy milk and 1/2 whole milk and now she drinks her 16 oz. a day. You might just want to try some different types of cups too - sippy, straw, regular - and see if that works. They are funny like that. At 15 months, my daughter decided vanilla soy milk tasted better than my milk so she weaned.

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S.P.

answers from New York on

I had the same issue too.... basically, took about a week and a half for a complete transition.

If she's hungry enough, she'll take it.... but it was key to warm up the milk since she's used to taking it warm.

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M.S.

answers from Syracuse on

We switched my son to cow's milk at the same time we took away bottles. He went on a drinking strike for 4 days. And then he never looked back. I kept getting reassured that he would not starve/dehydrate and he didn't. Once he figured out he was getting milk in a cup and nothing else, he "latched" right on! Good job pumping for so long at work! I couldn't keep it up past 7 months.

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J.J.

answers from New York on

hi C.;

i'm very pasionate about this and have learned a bit about it; both my kids were exclusively breastfed w no bottles; nursed my son till 3 and am still nursing my daughter who is 20 months.

first of all you can go to a La Leche League Meeting in your area to learn more about baby nutrition; just google La Leche League Intl. and click on resources to find your local meeting.

but the real news is this; the baby does NOT NEED COW'S MILK. that is a total myth and probably one of the main causes of childhood obesity. remember that cow's milk is a food originally intended for animals who have to gain 400 lbs in the first year of life. and in almost no other culture in the world do people drink cow's milk; where they do, they are fat and have heart disease, like us.

there are many foods with calcium like all kinds of greens; and plenty of lean protiens like legumes and beans and rice and turkey and chicken that you can give very little children.

my children simply do not drink milk. once in a while they get chocolate milk for a treat or ice cream; i do give treats because i love sweets and it would be rediculous or me to pretend otherwise. or to pretend that i don't need to use cookies for bribery sometimes! (please get in the stroller and stop screaming in the market and mommy will get you some cookies!) but i do try to stay away from milk. also my kids get gross runny noses if they have dairy two days in a row.

they do love dairy don't get me wrong; that's another reason i don't give milk to drink; they love thier mac and cheese a couple times a week and my son loves yogurt. so i save the dairy for that and nutritionally that's more than enough. also pizza every couple weeks.

my kids drink water almost exclusviely. and apple cider watered down. that's it. and just to show you that they've lost nothing for this; my daughter is 20 months, runs, swims under water, talks, and weighs 25 lbs, and my son is 3 and 4 months and weight 38 lbs and is the most verbal kid in his school and one of the tallest. so there you go.

good luck!

J.

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W.K.

answers from New York on

Hi C.,

you may want to try goats milk. I have been told that it is the closest thing to mothers milk. also try warming it, do not give it to her cold, as your breast milk is not cold when she nurses.

good luck

W.

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M.A.

answers from New York on

Switching to whole milk is not easy. I've found that doing half whole milk and half horizon strawberry milk worked best for both of my children. Over time I cut back on the strawberry milk, and now plain milk is their favorite thing to drink. Just keep at it, give it every day, they will eventually take it. Good luck!

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L.S.

answers from New York on

Hi Cristina,

I breastfed my daughter till she was 13 months. I started doing 1 to 2 oz of cow's milk mixed with her breast milk bottles the nanny would give her. Every week till my frozen bm was used up I would add a liitle more cow's milk. As soon as my frozen supply was up the nanny would give 2 bottles of all cow's milk. My daughter switched with no problems. I also warmed in up a liitle like we did with the breastmilk she got from the nanny. I ended ip getting rid of the morning breastfeeding when she was on the cow's milk for a week during teh day and a week after that I stopped my night feeding. Now I can give her cow's milk straight from the fridge.

I hope that helps.

M.T.

answers from New York on

Hi C.,
Some one year olds take right to cows milk, some don't. My suggestion is keep trying, and in the meantime, make sure she's eating a couple of servings of dairy during the day. Remember that at a year, food becomes their primary source of nutrition rather than milk, so it's normal for them to decrease their milk intake. If she eats a yogurt and a serving of cheese during the day, your nursing when you are home is probably enough for her.
Good luck.

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J.G.

answers from Rochester on

try vanilla soy milk or organic cow's milk, I think because they are sweeter(there aren't any more sugars in the vanilla than the plain soy) my daughter liked them. At 12 months I started doing a sippy cup at each meal. It took awhile but by 14-15 months I stopped breastfeeding and now at 18 months she drinks 16-24 ounces plus of organic milk a day (some water if we are outdoors playing, but rarely juice)Good luck!

C.W.

answers from New York on

I had a neighbor who's baby wouldn't go for it until she gave her 2%, then she was fine.

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S.C.

answers from New York on

Hi C.,
My son was exclusively breastfed and I found that the best way to transition to cow's milk was very SLOWLY! I started to slowly wean him from nursing right around his 1st birthday. I just cut out one feeding each week. I had to pump at work a few extra weeks while we transitioned. I also mixed breast milk & cow's milk to get him used to it. Now he's 17 mos old and I still nurse him first thing in the morning, but the rest of the day he has whole milk. Just last week I got him completely off the bottle and onto sippy cups. That was harder than I thought it would be. He's been drinking water out of cups for quite a while but milk out of a cup seemed so foreign to him. After 2 days of him refusing milk in a cup, I resorted to adding a bit of nesquik to it and now he's drinking it! Now I just have to add less chocolate each day. Your daughter might not like the cow's milk at first. I tried to give my son yogurt each day while we were switching to make sure that he was still getting some dairy. If you think that your daughter isn't ready to give up breastmilk, don't rush it. I hated pumping at work, but it was worth it in the end. And there is a part of me that still loves that early morning nursing... I feel so important providing that for him!
Good for you, sticking it out for the whole first year! Best of luck as you transition!

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G.C.

answers from New York on

I had the same problem when my little one was a year old. She refused whole milk but was interested in drinking out of a regular cup. Eventually we got the idea to give her vanilla soy milk (Silk brand) in a cup, and she started drinking that. Then we started giving her 1/2 vanilla soy milk and 1/2 whole milk and now she drinks her 16 oz. a day. You might just want to try some different types of cups too - sippy, straw, regular - and see if that works. They are funny like that. At 15 months, my daughter decided vanilla soy milk tasted better than my milk so she weaned.

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R.E.

answers from New York on

try goat's milk. it's closer to breast milk...then go to cow milk.
also, 25% milk may be too much at first...just use an itty bit, then an itty bit more until the baby gets accustomed to the flavors...but really slow!

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G.T.

answers from Rochester on

Keep trying. She is resisting but sooner or later she will give in. As long as you don't!

Another thing you can try is giving her milk in a sippy cup. At 1 year old she is old enough to use one. She may like that better than a bottle.

She may also like it if you warm the milk slightly. Breast milk is warm. She is used to her drinks being warm.

Also keep in mind she does not need as much milk now that she is getting older. It's time to try some foods. As long as she eats some dairy foods, cheese, yogurt, etc she won't need as much milk.

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L.D.

answers from Albany on

My 14 month old did the same thing. He still prefers to nurse but when I first offered cow's milk, he wouldn't touch it or he would just let a little dribble out his mouth. Now he will drink about 4 oz. at a time where he is really getting it but for the most part, he still wants what I have too. LOL Just keep offering it with meals for instance. Constantly reintroducing works wonders. :)

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D.C.

answers from New York on

Hi C.,
I know a little girl in our bldg. who would not take milk (I was lucky w/my older one=loves it). Her mom gives her Soy milk or almond milk. It is sweeter so she laps it up. Why not try mixing a bit of silk in there to sweeten the flavor? Just a thought.

A.H.

answers from New York on

Organic cow's milk is sweeter, and is more nutritious (my pediatrician insists on it). Also, I mixed in Stonyfield Banana flavored drinkable yogurt in the the cow's milk at first to make it even sweeter - maybe about 25/75 yogurt/milk at first, then less and less over a two week period. That worked for my daughter.

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W.K.

answers from New York on

I switch when my daughter was 13 months old.. but it was a horrible transition... Whole Milk made her seriously constipated. So we tried 2% then 1% - and we got the same effect, we were not happy. Then we were turned to soy milk. Soy milk was great! She drank it, no constipation but it can be costly.. and we would give it to her in a cup.. after a few months we were able to move her to 2% milk and things are fine. Give it time... maybe a few months before it happens.

C.B.

answers from New York on

I went from breast to soy milk. She loved the vanilla flavor. It was more like breast because it was sweet. Also try a cup not bottle.

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S.P.

answers from New York on

I had the same issue too.... basically, took about a week and a half for a complete transition.

If she's hungry enough, she'll take it.... but it was key to warm up the milk since she's used to taking it warm.

Next question: I Tried to Give My 11 1/2 Month Old Daughter Milk. She Hates It!