23 answers

Why Wait Until 12 Months Before Starting Whole Cow's Milk?

Just wondering if anyone knows why it is recommended that babies not be given cow's milk until they are at least 12 months old? Is it too hard for their systems to digest (because my daughter--who is now 11 months old--has been eating yoghurt and cottage cheese since she was 5.5 months old and has never had any problems digesting dairy)? Or does the recommendation have something to do with the nutritional composition of cow's milk? Do babies' nutritional needs change so dramatically after one year?

Just keep wondering about these things because my daughter is rapidly approaching the one year mark. Thus far she has been exclusively breastfed, but unfortunately my factory is starting to shut down (in spite of my best wishes to continue breastfeeding) and I need to transition her.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi Sabine,

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002448.htm

Cow's milk is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children under 1 year old. Infants fed whole cow's milk don't get enough vitamin E, iron, and essential fatty acids. They also get too much protein, sodium, and potassium. These levels may be too high for the infant's system to handle. Also, whole cow's milk protein and fat are more difficult for an infant to digest and absorb.
Cow's milk can have dramatic effects on the infant's iron levels. Infants fed breast milk or iron-fortified formula have normal iron levels. Studies show infants often have low iron levels when started on cow's milk at 6 months of age.

In other words, cow's milk is for cow babies, not humans.

: ) M.

1 mom found this helpful

Cow milk is very high in protein, a lot more than human or store bought formula, which has gone through a process to lower it.
If I'm not mistaken it might be a diferent tipe as well.

More Answers

It has to do with the large protein in cow's milk and the immaturity of a baby's kidneys. When you think about it, cow's milk is designed for calves, which are a whole lot bigger than human babies.
As for the yogurt, I believe that the naturally occuring bacteria in yogurt helps break down the protein (and lactose) so it's easier to digest.
My son is 12 months old and has been eating whole milk yogurt for a couple of months with no problem. However, regular whole milk was giving him diaper rash so I had to switch him to lactose free whole milk which is working much better.
Hope this answers your question :)

V.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Sabine,

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002448.htm

Cow's milk is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children under 1 year old. Infants fed whole cow's milk don't get enough vitamin E, iron, and essential fatty acids. They also get too much protein, sodium, and potassium. These levels may be too high for the infant's system to handle. Also, whole cow's milk protein and fat are more difficult for an infant to digest and absorb.
Cow's milk can have dramatic effects on the infant's iron levels. Infants fed breast milk or iron-fortified formula have normal iron levels. Studies show infants often have low iron levels when started on cow's milk at 6 months of age.

In other words, cow's milk is for cow babies, not humans.

: ) M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Sabine,
Yogurt has ascidopholus (pardone the spelling) which helps with digestion which is probably why it doesn't bother your daughter. My husband (he's a chiropractor) and I believe that cow's milk was not meant for us to drink...think about all of the growth hormones that baby cows need...we don't need that in our bodies. So our son and the both of us only drink rice, almond or oat milk. They are easy to digest and as long as you're finding calcium elsewhere, your baby will do absolutely fine.
Hope this helps!
E. K :-)

Hi, I think I remember my pediatrician saying something about it being a different kind of fat for your baby. But, you are so close to the year mark, I wouldn't worry about switching to supplement the feeding your factory can't handle, my kid weened himself before I was ready, sigh...

oh well good luck, Nat

I am not totally sure why the wait but I think it is because of digestion and also allergies. I started my son on cows milk at 10 months and started the transition with no issues.

Hi Sabine,
I'm not sure why your suppose to wait but I switched my daughter to whole milk at 6 months and she was fine. I breast fed her exclusively until she switched to milk.

She was over 9lbs at birth so needless to say she was hungry all the time and I started her on cereal with breast milk early as well.

She's 18 now. However, knowing what I know now about steroids, etc. I'd be more cautious of the milk I gave her.

Enjoy every minute with her....it saddens me how fast the time has gone.

-K.

Not sure the exact answer but went through the same thing with my milk supply. At 11 mths I started 1 bottle a day of cow's milk and the rest breast milk and slowly increased to cow's milk. By 1 year, it was simple to stop. Good luck!

I just wanted to add something. Recently my pediatrician said to switch the child to skim milk instead of whole milk when they turn 1! Apparently there was as study done that linked whole milk to diabetes later in life. I was very suprised by this.

Good Morning,

I do believe the thought behind waiting until 12 months for actual milk is the nutritional content. If they are drinking milk then they are not drinking breast milk or formula and not getting the same nutrition. My children also ate yogurt and cheese well before 12 months which is perfectly fine. Give your pedi a call on your next step, if your daughter is otherwise a good weight and healthy you may be close enough to change over to milk, especially considering your milk is drying up.

Hope this helps, have a blessed day!

I am pretty sure it is a digestive issue. I know that yogurt is pre-digested so it is ok for people with digestive issues or lactose intolerance. But if she is just a month shy of 1 year, I don't see why it would be a big issue to try it now!

I agree that it is a nutritional concern, however, if she's eating other foods as well as she's eating yogurt and cottage cheese, I'd consider putting milk in a sippy cup at mealtimes. Ask the pedi if this is ok. Switching to milk is a gradual process and doesn't happen automatically on the first bday, I started giving milk in sippy cups during mealtimes before my 2 kids were 1 and they went from breastfeeding right to the cup. Then you replace a snack or feeding with a cup of milk and solid foods down the line...and so on. It worked wonderfully for us. I hope the transition goes well for you.

They advise to hold off on cows milk because it is not as nutritious as breastmilk or formula. Instead of filling up on cows milk, its better for them to fill up on the stuff they really need.
Their nutritional needs do actually change a lot after 1 year. The focus is less on fruits and veggies, like baby food, and more on grains, dairy and protein.
I personally think we give our children way too much milk in this country. At 1 year, your daughter needs 2-3 servings of dairy per day, so if, as you said, she is eating yogurt and cottage cheese, she probably needs very little pourable cows milk, maybe 4ozs per day. Its no wonder in my opinion that American kids are so overweight with the amount of cows milk they drink. Cows milk is designed to bulk up baby cows!

Cow's milk is really much harder on the system for several reasons - hormones given to the cows, pesticides & other things added to the grass where they graze (or that comes from runoff from other nearby farms), and the enzymes in it. Yogurt has other things in it that help the baby digest it. In fact, many nutritional authorities will tell you that the purpose of cow's milk is to turn a 150 pound calf into a 700 pound steer in 6 months - it's not necessarily essential to kids or adults!

A lot of the allergies people experience (lactose intolerance, other food allergies, even asthma and many other conditions you wouldn't think of) are diet-related. Many of the cancers, and certainly the heart disease and diabetes, we are experiencing at record rates have to do with dietary imbalances and deficiencies.

What are the reasons you want your daughter to go on milk? Once you identify those, you will better know how to make a decision.

If it's "nutrition" then why use something that you already know can cause problems? If it's "nutritional and convenience", then why not consider a delicious and balanced supplement that takes the worry out of your child getting what she needs, especially as her body grows and needs more. Proper supplementation (no pills, no drugs) can give her all the nutrients she needs without worrying about the deficiencies in our food supply. Even those of us who "eat right" need to supplement - the AMA and even celebrity doctors like Dr. Oz agree - so it just makes sense to choose the best, most absorbable (bioavailable) and balanced supplement. I'd be happy to share more if you are interested.

Good luck!

I think it has to do more about nutritional value than anything else. But yes, some babies don't tolerate milk that well. Cheese and yogurt are easier to digest. BM has much much more nutritional value (like iron and other minerals) than plain old cow's milk which mostly has fat, vitamin D, and calcium. If you feel like you are missing out on some important nutrients you can make sure your baby is getting some cereal fortified with iron, eating bananas for potasium, etc. You can put a little formula into some regular whole milk, or you can just make sure she is eating a array of different foods, like beans, broccoli, yogurt, whole grains, etc. I went from breastfeeding to formula at 10 and half months and then to milk. They have formula for toddlers which is cheaper than infant formula. But I'm sure if she starts on regular milk a little earlier than 1 year it is going to be fine for her.

Hi,

it's about food allergies, especially if anyone in your family has them (or seasonal allergies, asthma, etc). The immune system is more mature after the age of 12 months and, therefore, less likely to react (mount a response) against the milk proteins. Hope this helps.

It is mostly do the nutritional needs that is why they now produce a formula that if for 9 months and up you could discuss adding milk to her diet now with your ped. give them a call and see what they have to say another reason has to do with the protein in milk can be hard for a baby's digestive system to break down yogurt is easier because of the cultures and enzymes in it and some types of cheeese are easier to digest because of the way they are made so just double check w/ your ped first but I see know reason to buy formula for a month especially if continue to nurse these next few weeks.

They say that the enzymes in cows milk is too hard for a baby to digest. Sometimes even around 12 mos, they can't tolerate it. I would wait until at least 12 mos and slowloy introduce it to your child

Valinda W. is absolutely right. The primary reason for waiting is your baby's health. (See this article at babycenter.com: http://www.babycenter.com/0_cows-milk-when-and-how-to-int...) Switching too early could hurt your baby's kidneys. Remember that whole milk is different than cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. and you should make the decision about when your baby is ready for whole milk with your pediatrician.

Both of my daughters were drinking milk at 6months in a sippy cup(ot eas only a little) with there meals and also still having a full bottles of formula all day. The pedi. said it was fine they just want the formula to a year for nutritional value. I will say that both of my daughters weaned themselves off the bottle around 10.5months. They kept wanted less of the bottle and more milk or water with there food. They were both on full table food and good weights so I felt they had a good balanced nutritional diet so I was not worried. I am going through this with my second daughter right now who is 10 months and she just doesn't want the bottle any more!

With our son they were pushing drinking milk, with our daughter her pediatrician said don't start giving her milk until she is a year, what babies absolutely need is what they get from breastmilk/formula until they are eating more types of food that can give them all the nutrition.

I haven't read anyone's responses, but my son is 11 months old, and I recently called his pediatricians office to see if I could start "spiking" his bottles of breastmilk with Whole Milk and they said yes. To start with a half ounce to an ounce and slowly increase the amount. I also only breastfed and was running low but did not want to start formula since we only have about 4 weeks to go before that one year mark. He hasn't had any problems with the mix of my milk and whole milk. I know that they dont want babies starting whole milk earlier than a year because of the nutrional value of formula and breastmilk....but seeing that your story sounds like mine, I think if you start spiking the bottles with a little at a time, your baby should be okay. Check with your peds office if you need reassurance though.

Cow milk is very high in protein, a lot more than human or store bought formula, which has gone through a process to lower it.
If I'm not mistaken it might be a diferent tipe as well.

It really isn't about nutrition, it's about the digestibility of the straight cows milk's proteins. Yogurt and cheese have already broken down proteins and are easier to digest. You're baby just can't handle it and it could cause problems later on. Your Pedi office nurse or Dr. should be able to explain this to you thoroughly if you don't find the info you need online. Bottom line is wait. If you want to give milk, go to goat's milk. The proteins are different and can be handled by the little one. A midwife friend of mine needed to supplement her breast milk at 4 months and went straight to goats milk and added DHA to it. Formula is what people frequently go to but is not the only answer. Goat's milk is more like breast milk than cows and can be purchased fresh, canned or in powder.

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