When Can Babies Drink Regular Milk?
Whether mothers are breastfeeding or formula feeding, there typically comes a time when both Mom and Dad wonder “When can babies drink regular milk?” Parents that are hoping to give their child cow’s milk must remember that each child will take to regular milk differently.
Searching “babies can drink regular milk when” will return several results regarding weaning your child, giving your baby cow’s milk, and how to determine if they have a dairy allergy or not. When considering giving regular milk to a baby, parents need to consider their child’s age and their current diet.
Babies can drink regular milk when they are between the ages of nine and 12 months. Feeding babies regular milk before this age isn’t healthy. Before this age, newborns cannot digest regular milk. In fact, younger babies can easily develop an iron deficiency if they drink regular milk and aren’t eating the recommended amount of iron-rich foods.
Babies Can Drink Regular Milk When They’re Ready for Solid Food
As infants start eating solid foods, this is around the time that milk may be introduced into their diet as a supplement, which may be after nine months or before 12 months. However, parents must choose the right kind of milk. It’s safest to say that babies can drink regular milk when they are between one- and two-years-old. Once their babies are ready to drink milk, parents should purchase 23.25% homogenized and pasteurized milk or whole milk.
Two-year-olds experience an accelerated period of brain development and need higher fat content and calories in their diet. While goat’s milk may also be used, parents should search for milk that has high amounts of folic acid and vitamin D. Nut, rice, and soy beverages aren’t as beneficial to babies as regular cow’s milk but can be used in the event that a baby can’t consume regular milk.
Parents that prefer low-fat options will find that this type of milk is also healthy for their child as well. To ensure babies are still getting the right amount of other food, they should consume a maximum amount of 750 ml of milk a day. This will prevent them from becoming deficient in other nutrients.
The Benefits of Regular Milk
The general rule of thumb for babies consuming regular milk is that babies can drink regular milk when they have reached their first birthday. While babies have grown up on breast milk or formula milk until this point, feeding them cow’s milk is the next best step.
Milk is an excellent source of bone-boosting calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D is a powerful super-nutrient that helps to protect against conditions like cancer and diabetes. For babies, regular whole milk should be fine, however, some pediatricians do recommend reduced-fat milk in specific situations.
After speaking with your pediatrician, you’ll learn that babies can drink regular milk when it doesn’t interfere with their diet. By limiting their milk intake to at three servings or less each day, your baby will still have room to take in all the other nutrients they need.
How to Give Your Child Regular Milk
Most parents looking to wean their child from the bottle or the breast are ready to serve their child regular milk. While moms may be ready to start integrating regular milk into their child’s diet as soon as possible, there’s a reason that their baby can drink regular milk when they’re around the age of 12 months.
When weaning your child, keep the following in mind:
- Younger children aren’t able to digest the milk proteins, so drinking milk too soon can easily lead to the development of a milk allergy.
- Cow’s milk won’t have nutrients like zinc and vitamin E that the baby desperately needs for growth and development in their first year.
- Babies can drink regular milk when their kidneys are able to process the milk. As cow’s milk has more chloride, potassium, and sodium, a child’s kidneys may be overtaxed if they are consuming regular milk before they are able to handle it.
- Drinking regular milk too soon can lead to an iron deficiency. Babies can drink regular milk when they are older than one year because they will be able to absorb the iron in the cow’s milk at that time.
Basically, parents should realize that babies can drink regular milk when their bodies are ready. If your baby isn’t taking as well to cow’s milk, you may have to try a few different tactics to get them to drink it.
Mix it Up
Help your child get a taste for cow’s milk by blending it up with formula or breast milk. Parents often find that starting with 3/4 cup of formula or breast milk and a 1/4 cup of milk will do the trick. After a few days, increase the amount of regular milk in the mixture.
Sneak in the Milk
When can babies drink regular milk? If your child is already eating solids, try to sneak in the milk with their cereal or oatmeal. Another option is to start putting milk into mac and cheese, soups, and smoothies.
Serve Milk Before Dinner
Serving milk with dinner may work for some parents, but babies often like to fill up on tastier foods rather than drink their milk. By giving milk to your baby before dinner, you’ll make sure they get their fill of dairy nutrients while having enough room for their dinner later.
What to Do If Your Child Doesn’t Like Regular Milk
Babies that have been breastfed may not take to milk as fast as formula fed babies. However, as breastfeeding is encouraged until the baby is two years of age, a slower transition to regular milk is perfectly fine. Babies can drink regular milk when they grow more familiar with it.
If babies don’t take an initial liking to regular milk, it is recommended that parents mix it with other types of familiar milk. Parents can use expressed breastmilk or formula to create a dairy mix to help ease their baby into drinking regular milk.
If Your Child is Allergic to Regular Milk
Babies can drink regular milk when it is clear they do not have a milk allergy. When first giving your child regular milk, carefully watch their reaction. If your child begins to have labored breathing, breaks out in hives, or starts vomiting in the minutes or hours directly following consuming cow’s milk or other dairy products, this is a sign that they have a dairy allergy.
In a situation where your child has constricted breathing or they are experiencing multiple symptoms at once (such as vomiting and hives at the same time), it’s important to call emergency services or go to the hospital as soon as possible. In addition to clear signs of a dairy allergy, parents should pay attention to milder reactions like diarrhea, rashes, constipation, or vomiting.
While babies do experience negative reactions to regular milk at times, these symptoms are rare for children that are one-year-old and older. In the event that a child does have a milk allergy, it usually presents itself when they are first consuming certain formulas or drinking Mom’s milk (assuming she also consumes dairy products). However, it is possible that children can develop a milk allergy later on.
Dairy Milk Alternatives
If your child is experiencing a negative reaction to regular milk, parents can try using soy-based formula instead. Breastfed babies are typically advised to keep breastfeeding if they have an allergy to regular milk. If parents are considering using soy milk, they should also monitor their child to see if they have any issues with the soy as well.
Children that are unable to drink soy milk may need a hydrolyzed formula. This type of formula breaks down the milk protein so the baby’s system won’t see that it is a threat.
With all the various options of nut milk, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and the like, parents can easily be overwhelmed when trying to choose the most nutritious option for their child. Avoid any confusion by visiting a dietician to help choose the right type of milk for your baby.
Additionally, parents will learn that babies can drink regular milk when their child’s dietician says that they are physically ready. Most want to wait for until the child has reached a healthy weight and can guarantee that the milk doesn’t become the child’s main source of nutrition.
Milk is a staple in any growing baby’s diet. Since babies can have milk by the age of one, it’s time to start determining how you will make milk a daily part of their diet. By speaking with a dietician or pediatrician, you’ll be able to guarantee your child is getting the nutrients they need from milk and the other foods they are consuming.