Cow Milk for Babies: Five Things You Should Know

As a new parent, you’ve probably heard a little bit – or more than a little bit – about cow’s milk. It’s one of those things, along with honey, sugar, and nuts, that pediatricians violently warn against feeding your newborn. And they’re right – it’s not a good idea to feed your little one anything but breast milk or formula until they are over six months old.

But you will probably hear much less about the subject of introducing cow’s milk to your baby after they reach that six-month guideline. How do you introduce dairy to your child? Should you give them fat-free or whole milk? What about organic cow’s milk for babies, or goats milk for baby?

Well, wonder no more. Here are five things you should know about giving your little one cow’s milk.

1. Supplement – Don’t Replace

By the time your baby is six months old, it’s perfectly fine to give her some cow’s milk – as long as you’re not replacing cow’s milk for breast milk or formula. Until the child is a year old, breast milk or formula should still make up the majority of her milk intake. Too much cow’s milk in her diet before then can cause her to reject formula or breast milk – which has necessary nutrients for your baby’s continued growth and development.

After a year, your baby can begin drinking cow’s milk more regularly; but try to limit her intake to 2-3 cups per day. Too much cow’s milk in a little one’s diet may cause allergies. It can also fill her up so much that she won’t any other foods or nutrients that she needs to grow.

2. Organic is Best

It’s best to choose organic, whole milk for your baby. The extra fat and calcium in whole milk is good for their growing bodies; and organic milk from local farms prevents your child from being affected by unnecessary chemicals and pesticides.

If your little one seems to be averse to organic cow milk for babies at first, but you are concerned with getting her enough calcium, try mixing a little dairy milk with a little breast milk or formula.

3. Goat’s Milk Is Good Too!

If your baby seems to have an allergy to cow’s milk – or if you are worried she might because your family has a history of dairy allergies – goat’s milk is a perfectly acceptable option to give your child so that you can be sure she’s getting enough fat and calcium. Goat’s milk can also improve digestion as it has fewer of the proteins that cause allergic reactions. Goat’s milk can be an excellent transition from breast milk or formula.

Wait to give your child goat’s milk until she is at least six months old, the same way you would with cow’s milk.

4. Choose the Right Formula to Help Transition

For a variety of reasons, some mothers will have a gap between the time they are nursing and the time their child is old enough to drink dairy milk. This means that parents will have to be careful with the kind of formula they need to help bridge the gap between mother’s milk and goat’s or cow’s milk.

Make sure that you choose organic infant formula or sugar free formula. Choosing organic doesn’t guarantee that your formula is going to be high-quality, but it’s a good thing to check off your list. These formulas are usually higher quality, full of nutrients, and absent of any potential allergens like soy or harmful pesticides. Although you do want to eventually transition your child into tasting cow’s milk or goat’s milk, or even soy milk, you don’t want to do it via a low-quality formula. Dairy and soy in formulas is usually added as filler, not as a nutrient-rich ingredient.

5. Avoid Sugar Additives

It’s also important to look for a formula that is sugar free. Best case scenario, your child should wait until she is at least a year old to have sugar; giving her a formula with sugar or corn syrup as an additive is setting her up for health issues later on in life. In a country where children are increasingly suffering from diabetes and obesity, keep your child from being a statistic by choosing sugar-free formula.

Be cautious with the food you give your child, so that you can give her the best possible start in life!

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