What is the deal with introducing toddler formula or cow’s milk after 12 months?
Studies have proven the health benefits for providing your child with human milk or fortified milk (formula) until the age of 12 months…but the golden question is…..what happens after???
There is a lot of debate and controversy when introducing milk to babies after 12 months, this is partly due to the vast variety of formula’s in supermarkets. It can be confusing, at times I become over whelmed about what to recommend to mother’s and what is best for their bub.
It is recommended to NOT give your baby any cows milk until 12 months because, their digestive systems are not ready. Cow’s milk contains high amount of protein which can overload their immature kidneys, it also lacks vitamin C, iron and other nutrients for infants which could lead to iron-deficiency anaemia. This is because it is harder to digestive causing blood loss in their stools. So…cow’s milk before 12 months will not provide optimum growth and nutrition for babies.
The concern is after 12 months…what to do?
Many nursing mothers are told they must stop breast feeding and transition straight to cow’s milk after their child reaches 12 months. However, your breast feeding bub is obtaining the best source of milk..mother’s milk providing high amounts of fat needed for brain growth, high iron content and other nutrients! I recommend there is no need to completely stop breast feeding and add cows milk to your toddlers diet as long your bub is breastfeeding at least 3-4 times per day (over a 24 hour period). Just ensure to offer solids before breast feeds or in between meals. If your bub is feeding less, offer cow’s milk.
As your baby progresses and increases intake of solids, it is normal for your bub to breast feed less and start to wean them completely off breast milk. After this stage you bub can start on cow’s milk some babies might he hesitant to start, I would recommend by transitioning them slowly start by adding cows milk to breast or formula, add cows milk to solids e.g. cereals. It could also help by serving cows milk at room temperature. The requirements for dairy is approximately 2 cups per day, if you baby is not meeting this target there are other ways to get into their intake e.g. yoghurt, cheese, cottage cheese, pudding, soups and sauces milk based or fruit milkshakes. Try not to offer too much cow’s milk as a drink as it can lead to iron deficiency anaemia as cow’s milk interferes with the absorption of iron and can decrease the child’s desire for other foods. Offer milk to drink in between meals e.g. morning and afternoon tea.
For babies, full cream/whole cow’s milk is absolutely fine, unless specified by your health professional. Growing babies need the calories and fat in whole milk as they grow and develop. After the age of 24 months you can talk to your child’s health professional about transitioning to reduced fat or non-fat milk. Children with risk of being overweight or have a family history of heart disease, obesity or high cholesterol should consider low fat milk after 24 months.