Parenting comes as a mixed bag of emotions with one phase being simply amazing to other being challenging. One thing that keeps on coming as a challenge is matching nutritional requirement of your growing child with his growing needs. Since cow milk is very rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein; it holds a special position as a food for growing years and comes as a primary source when we explore options of milk for babies. As a parent, we all agree to the beneficial profile of milk, what bothers us is when and how to introduce it to babies. The present article attempts to answer this under two heads i) when to introduce milk to your baby and ii) how to give milk to the baby.
Table Of Contents
What Is The Best Milk For Babies?
There is no second thought to the fact that of all the milk options that your baby is exposed to during his childhood; it's the breast milk that is considered to be the best milk for babies. Breast milk feeding to baby ensures him of antibodies, hormones, enzymes, protein, carbohydrates and many more nutrients.
Choosing best milk for babies gets tricky as they grow and to be honest there is no one answers for this question. The answer for the best milk for babies is dependent on their age which is covered in the later part of the article.
When To Introduce Milk To Your Baby?
Whether it’s turning sides, sitting, crawling or standing your baby is reaching all his milestones one after other. You feel overwhelmed and at the same time worried also. You start searching for food options for him so that his growing nutritional needs are well met. One suggestion that keeps pouring from all sources to all parents is the introduction of cow milk for babies. Undoubtedly, cow milk for babies is an excellent choice when it comes to meeting their growing nutritional requirements; however, when to introduce milk to your baby is something that requires attention. Let us decipher this in detail.
Why Cow Milk For Infants Is A Big ”NO”
Cow’s milk contains a high amount of protein and minerals which makes it difficult for the baby to digest it since their digestive system is immature and still developing.
‣ Compared to breast milk and formula, cow’s milk contains lower amount iron, vitamin C and Vitamin E which is not the right amount required for the early growth
‣ The high content of potassium, sodium and protein in cow’s milk puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys
‣ Early introduction of cow milk might lead to allergic reactions in infants. NCBI states that approximately 0.3 to 7.5% of infants are affected with cow’s milk allergy.
‣ Cow milk for infants is linked to iron deficiency anaemia, states NCBI.
Introducing Cow Milk For 6 Months Old
Giving milk to the baby is something that we all as a parent look forward to. However, it is not recommended to give cow milk to babies who are under 12 months (Infants). So, cow milk for 6 months old is a big “NO”. It would be wise to continue breast milk/ formula milk for another 6 months and introduce cow milk to the baby only when he/she reaches the advised age. NCBI also suggests not using cow milk for infants as it leads to intestinal tract blood loss leading to loss of iron which is nutritionally important.
Introducing Cow Milk For 1-Year-Old
Your baby can be fed cow’s milk once he celebrates his birthday. By 1-year children get ready to digest cow’s milk. Adding dairy milk to his existing diet plan of cereal, fruits, vegetables etc. would further enhance the nutritional profile of his diet.
Advantages of cow milk for 1-year-old:
‣ Milk is a great source of calcium, vitamin A and phosphorus. Calcium is crucial when it comes to building strong teeth and bones
‣ Calcium also Improves muscle control and blood coagulation
‣ As a source of protein milk aids in the growth of the child
‣ With its carbohydrate content, it gives the child enough energy for the entire day.
‣ Enough calcium in initial years of growth is also linked to lower risk of fractures, strokes blood pressure in later years of life.
How To Give Milk To Baby - Introducing Cow Milk?
Giving milk to baby initially can be a little challenging for many parents; however, for some, it may just be a cake walk. Since cow milk is different in taste, texture and temperature when compared to breast milk, it gets difficult for the babies to accept it. Hence, this introduction of cow milk for babies calls for a little strategy which is discussed below:
‣ You can begin with mixing cow’s milk with breast milk/formula. (Ideal ratio for this would be of 3:1, 3 parts of breast milk/formula to 1 part cow’s milk). Once the baby is comfortable gradually increasing percentage of cow milk in the mixture until it gets 100 percent cow’s milk.
‣ You can also try giving milk to the baby alternatively with bottles of formula and cow’s milk one after other until the final transition is achieved.
‣ If your baby refuses to drink cow milk initially then you can make him familiar with the taste by adding milk to his cereals. Try pudding, custard milk-based smoothies.
‣ Watch out for rashes or any other sign of allergy when you introduce cow milk to the baby. Seek medical advice in case of any confusion
Introducing Milk To Your Baby - What Is The Right Amount?
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends (32-36) oz per day of milk for 1-year-old. It is equivalent to 4- 4.5 cups of milk in a day. AAP suggests not going beyond the recommended limit because it might lead to a decrease in appetite for the other foods that he would need. AAP also recommends full-fat milk in place of low-fat or non-fat/skimmed milk till the child turns 2.
Milk is considered to be ideal for consumption for people of all ages, however, for babies it holds a special importance owing to its nutritional profile. You as a parent must be agreeing to it. What might be confusing you is when to introduce milk to your baby and how to give milk to the baby. Based on findings and suggestions from health practitioners the right time to introduce milk to your baby is only when he turns one. Various ways of giving milk to the baby are covered above in the article.