Alternatives to Cow's Milk for 1 Year Old

Updated on August 10, 2010
A.K. asks from Minneapolis, MN
23 answers

So my little guy is 11 months old, and I've just started giving him a little cow's milk. He was exclusively breast fed for the first 10 1/2 months, and now he's had formula + breastmilk for a few weeks. His brother started drinking whole milk right around 12 months, and it was very easy to wean him from both breast and bottle, since he would drink cow's milk like a champ at every meal. This baby is different - he seems to hate the taste of cow's milk! I've given it to him straight up and cold, straight up and warm, mixed with formula while still cold, and mixed with a bunch of formula while lukewarm. The only time he's actually had the whole bottle was when it was mixed with a bunch of formula and lukewarm. I would like to have him taking his milk in a cup or a sippy soon after he turns one, but he may just really not like how it tastes. So I'm wondering, what alternatives are there to whole milk for a 1 year old. I can't imagine he would prefer soy milk over cow's milk (as I think it tastes pretty yucky unless loaded with sugar), but what other types of milk provide the same benefits as whole milk?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for the great advice. His 12 month appt is coming up, so I will certainly discuss this with his ped, but it is good to know that so many people have heard that milk is not "necessary." He eats a ton of yogurt, so I've upped it to the whole milk variety to ease my mind. He also eats avocados and cheese like they're going out of style, so I know he's getting a lot of good fat! I've been mixing the whole milk with what's left of my last can of formula (my breastmilk, unfortunately, is pretty much done except for first thing in the morning) and we'll gradually increase the amount of whole milk with formula until the can's gone. After that, it's whole milk all the way - if that doesn't work by then, I have some wonderful suggestions from all of you mamas. Thanks again!

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answers from Des Moines on

You've gotten a lot of response, and I didn't read them all:) Just thought that I'd add that we mixed whole milk with gerber bananas for a while (a month or two?), gradually decreasing the banana. My son hated milk and wouldn't drink it at all, and I tried this when lots of folks said to try chocolate syrup. Worked pretty well:) Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

My son didn't want milk either. We used toddler formula until my son was about 17 months and at that point he decided he wanted milk instead. The Cub Foods generic brand of toddler formula is cheap and dissolves well [I think it was $11 for a big can when we were buying it]. At least if you went that route you know he will be getting nutrition that way also.
At two I started my son on 1/2 a chewable vitamin/day. My son is still a very picky eater at 2.5.

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answers from Green Bay on

Be sure to check out soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and hemp milk. Hopefully one of them will agree with him! And be sure to give him good quality supplements.

K. Check out the kids' supplements under SHOPPING. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I just saw an advertisement for formula that was made for children over 1yrs old. It is supposed to have all the vitamins and such as regular milk. I didn't pay a lot of attention to it since I have been a breastfeeder, but it certainly sounds like something to check into since you said that he was okay with formula.
Wanted to also agree with poster below. There is no need for your son to be drinking soy. Don't want to plow your baby with estrogen!
Green leafy veggies, yogurt, cottage cheese, regular cheese. All those things, and more, have lots of calcium. If he is eating those and not a big milk drinker, it's okay! My youngest, now 5 and in GREAT health, was not a big milk fan, but since he ate all those other things his dr. wasn't worried at all.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Soy, almond (yum!) or coconut milk would be alternatives. Almond is good because it's NOT loaded with sugar, in general. I'm not entirely sure how the vitamin content stacks up. But worst case scenario, if he isn't getting what he needs, you can always supplement a vitamin.



answers from Duluth on

almond milk!! ;) non-dairy products are great - dairy is actually not that good for you; any benefit is reversed by the fact that animal proteins turn to acid in your body and eat away bones!
vanilla almond milk tastes like the milk left over after eating lucky charms. its sweet and tasty! :)

good luck! if you are comfortable with it, you can keep nursing! nursing past age 1 is not only safe, but healthy and immune sytstem boosting! :) you dont have to suppliment with formula at this point, because that could get him hooked on the bottle, and after breastfeeding this long, you dont want to start that! :)

any drink you give him make it in a sippy. :)



answers from Duluth on

Depending on how strongly you feel about cow's milk versus other versions of milk... I have any number of friends who have said their babies did not particularly enjoy the transition from breast to whole milk, my son included. My first son was no issue at all--he was even eager to eat 'real' food. My second...we nursed until he was 2 1/2, and now that he's almost 3, he's still not a huge milk drinker. We simply give it to him when we KNOW he's thirsty, and when we are having supper, we give him a small amount, knowing he's not likely to drink when he has food in front of him. He LOVES cereal-tinted milk (the milk left over after he's eaten the Cheerios and bananas out of the bowl), so we pour quite a bit more milk than he needs into his cereal. He is also willing to drink chocolate milk (big surprise), so when we travel, we get him chocolate milk at our meal stops.



answers from Augusta on

Do not give him soy milk, the only people that should have soy anything are menopausal women. Soy has estrogen in it. It is naturally occurring but it's not something a 1 yr old boy needs in his system.

as far as not needing milk I tribute my never having any broken bones to drinking a ton of milk as a kid I loved it and still do.
have you tried mixing s little bit of vanilla into it? Or adding some vanilla instant breakfast to it? They have lower sugar versions.


answers from Spokane on

My son just turned 1 and we used Similac brand formula, and now we are using Similac Go & Grow. This is especially formulated for babies 9 months+. The label says it provides complete nutrition, and I like that since our diet isn't nutritionally perfect! We also use whole milk sometimes, but he prefers the formula.



answers from Columbus on

For dairy choices, try goat milk (either powdered or not; probably available at your Whole Foods-type store). Or try powdered whole milk - I think Nestle has some; we bought ours at a local ethic (Somali-run) grocery. Powdered milk, I think because of the heat used to dehydrate it, tastes a little sweeter than regular (non-dehydrated milk).

Soy, almond, and rice milk are alternatives, but a lot of them tend to be heavy on the sugar, and don't have the same nutrients, so be a label-reader and compare them. Also, make sure that if you choose one of these, it has vitamins/minerals added. Protein and calcium, and some fat and minerals/vitamins are the big things that cow milk (and goat milk) offer to little growing bodies.

There are lots of cultures that don't use milk (of any kind), and just drink water & get their nutritional needs met through food. You might want to get a good multivitamin (we use Tri-Vy-Sol w/o iron, per ped. recommendation, since our little one was about 1 month old; that is in addition to his regular intake of breastmilk as an infant, as well as now as a toddler eating solid food & drinking about 4 oz of milk per day).

I think that there are also "toddler formulas" out there; we didn't look into them, but I would guess that might be an alternative, though probably more expensive than cow's milk.

You also might try mixing his formula and milk -- giving the same amount of formula per whatever recommendations you're following, over the course of the day, but adding into that some of his daily milk ration. Over time, gradually decrease the amount of formula (feeding separately if needed); this might accustom him to the taste of the milk more gradually.



answers from Chicago on


My one year old is not showing any interest in cows milk. She never took the bottle so I introduced a cup very early on and only in the last two weeks has she really mastered it (she seems to do much better with the straw ones). She's still nursing which is a good thing since she doesn't take a lot of liquid from the cup. Still, I've found soy milk and kefir to be her favorites so far. It's difficult to find whole milk kefir so I end up giving her the lowfat version...but, she eats whole milk yogurt every day, with the cream on top, so I'm not too worried about her getting the fat she needs. I'm still going to continue trying whole milk, though...I think it may just take her some time to get used to it.

Good luck!



answers from Tuscaloosa on

I have been having the same issue with my 13 month-old, in fact I'm still breastfeeding for that reason. I started to research the other milks for nutrional value, and what I found is that nothing quite stacks up to cow's milk. I basically decided to avoid soy milk, as too much soy can cause lots of problems. I haven't tried any of the other milks yet, but I think I'm going to try the step-down method first. My problem is that it's difficult for me to pump much breastmilk.

I asked the pediatrician (who is AWESOME) about it and I was very surprised at his response. He stated that after a year babies don't NEED to drink milk at all AS LONG AS THEY EAT A LOT OF DAIRY (cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt). They need to drink formula or breastmilk up to a year because if you switch them to milk too soon they can become extremely anemic, which is bad for their development. Most doctor's do a blood test at a year to test for anemia. Hope this helps!



answers from Des Moines on

It's not a big jump, but to me personally there's a big difference in taste, as well to my children (ages 6 and 4)... have you tried organic whole milk? First time I tried it I thought of baby formula LOL!! It might be an option for him to try.

My son isn't a huge fan of milk - he'll drink it, but he'd rather have chocolate milk or koolaid.... when we first introduced cow-milk to him, we watered it down. Alot at first, and slowly lessened the amount of water.... This worked really well for him, because he loved to drink water - so at first introduction since it was watered down so much it tasted like water to him, it was just white, as we gradually increased the milk and decreased the water he kept up drinking it... by the time he was drinking milk alone he would drink small amounts, but more frequently.

Before you make any decisions, I do advise you talk with the pediatrician first. They know what your child needs and are educated on what options are available and feasible for a parent - some pediatricians even are parents! :)


answers from Phoenix on

I'm in the same boat as you with a 13 month old who just drinks a few ounces of his milk. He stopped nursing at 10 months and at one year we did the 90/10 ratio formula to milk and over weeks we have arrived at the point where it should be all milk, but he won't drink it at all! I add a little hot water and formula to milk so he'll have those few ounces.
The good new is my ped told me kids do not need milk at all. I have friends whose kids only drink chocolate milk or ovaltine etc, and that is a lot of sugar. My ped said it's better to have no milk than sugar milk just so they'll tolarate it. He said if your child will eat yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese or other calcium sources there is no reason to force milk.
My baby eats yo baby yogurt, once or sometimes twice a day. We are still working on cottage cheese and he will eat cheese cubes sometimes. Try alternate choices of calcium and keep your ped in the loop, you don't need to force it.
Aside: My 3 1/2 yr old daughter has never had a drink of milk, she hates it. She was exclusively breastfed for 16 months with just water and diluted apple juice in a sippy cup and loves cheese, frozen yogurt tubes and cottage cheese and ice cream (of course) and she is just great!



answers from Houston on

He doesn't need it. As stated below, make sure he is eating green veggies and yogurts are good. My kids don't drink whole milk, never have. We get organic fat free milk, and, only use it if they eat cereal (which we hardly EVER buy), and, for cooking purposes.

I give a sippy to my son with ice cold water, and, he loves to shake the ice, which made him interested in holding the cup and learning to use it. He mainly drinks water now. All my kids to take a daily vitamin, and, I buy whatever I can (that is healthy), that has added vitamin D and calcium.

I found a great article the other day about getting the "fat" that so many are worried about in whole milk. Avocados are great for this. Just do a little research instead of listening to the "hype" about milk (which comes from the milk industry), and, you will learn that you have nothing to worry about.

Our pediatrician is on board with us, and, herself does not give that much milk to her daughter.

Good luck!



answers from Green Bay on

Goat, better nutrition easily digestable.



answers from Lincoln on

Try raw cow milk (go to to find local areas) or raw goat's milk. With these I started by putting 2-3 drops of light agave nectar to sweeten. Breast milk is sweet to the taste so I figured I may need to sweeten the other milk as well. If not into the raw, try the agave with the regular whole milk, but shoot for milk that excludes the hormones like rBST.



answers from Atlanta on

Hi Amy,

Goat's milk and Almond Milk are the time tested alternatives. Both have been used for centuries. Rice milk doesn't have much nutrition and is primarily a simple sugar. Controversies over soy and processing of soy make me very leary. Whole cow's milk, I believe, should only be given if organic. I don't necessarily think cow's milk is bad but I do KNOW that the chemicals used to process it and the chemicals fed to the cows are. Processed formula is full of chemicals and sugars as well. I believe that the formulas processed today are why we have so many childhood digestive, respiratory and even neurological issues.

If you use something that has a low fat content try feeding your little guy avocado. It's almost a perfect food nutritionally and is a good fat.





answers from Indianapolis on

Before you take any of our advice, ask your pediatrician. The most critical thing, between 12-24 months, is the fat content to promote proper brain development. I personally don't know how other sources of milk stand-up, but there are certainly a lot of kids that have to use soy, rice, almond, etc. in lieu of cow's milk.

Neither of my kids had a problem. Our only real problem with them is how much they wanted to drink and getting too much milk/day.

I'd advise against flavoring it with chocolate or strawberry syrups as it adds needless calories and deters him from developing the palette for the milk taste. On a side note, I've never liked the taste of milk, but my parents forced me to drink it as a kid. Didn't have a choice.

Maybe even something like some ice cubes in the cup would help. We have a friend who, unfortunately, heated her daughter's milk at that age, and it's the only way she'll drink it now at 4.



answers from Chicago on

My kids never drink milk. I never even gave it to tham when they were a year or so. I only gave them and still give them rice milk. I use Rice Dream brand that is found at Jewel, Target, Whole Foods. It's all white and tastes the most like reg milk. My pediatrician said its fine and cows milk doesn't break down to use all the nutrients in your body. As long as they eat veggies, yogurt, eggs, they will get their vitamins. Compare Rice milk to cows milk, it's the same. Hope this helps you.



answers from Davenport on

As long as he is getting protein and calcium from other sources, he really doesn't need milk. Soy milk does have a lot of estrogen in it, so I don't think I would make it part of his regular diet. There was an article in parent's magazine about goat's milk. It said that it is high in sodium and very low in iron and not recommended. Here is the link if you want to read it:



answers from New York on

If you want to switch him to whole milk, do it gradually. Try mixing 3/4 formula with 1/4 whole milk for week one, then go to 1/2 formula and 1/2 whole milk for week two, then 1/4 formula and 3/4 whole milk week three and 100% whole milk week 4 and beyond. I would try the gradual step down method first then I would try the soy milk (remembering different strokes for different folks). Rice milk and goats milk are also nice alternatives.



answers from Dallas on

Soy Milk, Almond Milk and Rice Milk are great alternatives.

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