As your baby grows, the food he needs will change as well. For the first year of their life, you have either given your child formula or breastmilk. There comes a time when you wonder when do babies stop drinking formula.
Transitioning your child to regular milk is important and should be done at the correct time, to ensure all of his nutrient and dietary needs are met.
The Appropriate Age
Most pediatricians advocate introducing whole cow’s milk when your baby reaches their first birthday. However, if your child is not yet on a balanced diet of foods, the transition may have to wait.
Your 1 year old needs food from all of the food groups, including vegetables and fruit, dairy products, meats and other sources of protein, and grains.
You may be tempted to transition your baby to whole milk sooner than one year.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend that because your infant cannot properly digest the milk as efficiently as they can formula.
Cow’s milk has higher levels of protein and minerals that can adversely affect your child’s kidneys, leading to illnesses. Formula contains all of the nutrients a child needs, but cow’s milk doesn’t. It doesn’t have Vitamin E or zinc, along with other necessary vitamins. Also, babies that are transitioned too soon often have iron deficiency.
What Milk to Introduce
Once you have chosen the appropriate time to stop offering formula, you have to select the kind of milk to introduce and how to start the process. Parents should provide whole Vitamin D milk.
A 1 year old needs high-fat content to maintain the proper weight gain. The only way you should introduce 2 percent or reduce fat milk is if your doctor tells you to do so.
For an overweight infant, a doctor may advocate for a low-fat variety.
- Vitamin D is crucial for your child’s proper development. It is the best source of bone-boosting calcium.
Many researchers are proving that Vitamin D is a super nutrient that can protect your child from diabetes and other conditions.
Another important reason to use whole milk is that your baby’s developing brain needs the high levels of butterfat.
Your baby's brain undergoes a huge change in the first three years of life.
How to Introduce Cow’s Milk?
Even though your child’s body is ready for whole milk, their taste buds may not like it. Instead of the cold-turkey approach, the best route for introduction is a gradual process. Here are some techniques I have tried with success.
1. Mixing the Milks
Cow’s milk has a different taste than formula. For the first few weeks, I mix whole milk and formula together. Gradually, I decrease the amount of formula while increasing the amount of milk.
- I may serve a ¾ cup of formula with ¼ cup of whole milk.
- The next week, I serve ½ cup of formula and ½ cup of whole milk.
- The following week is a ¼ cup of formula and ¾ cup of whole milk.
- By the 4th week, my child is on whole milk exclusively.
It is a long process, but it is the most successful.
2. Get Sneaky With It
There is no shame in sneaking food to your child. I have been known to sneak vegetables into smoothies and muffins. When you have a picky child, you have to do whatever it takes.
I take the same approach with whole milk. This is a great time to introduce cereal, with whole milk. Make fruit smoothies with yogurt and milk, or add it to homemade baby food. There are plenty of ways to get your child used to the creaminess and taste of milk.
3. Offer Other Foods
Calcium is available in other foods. Even though you want your child to get used to whole milk, some kids are difficult. Cheese and yogurt have plenty of calcium. If you are worried your child isn’t getting enough Vitamin D, your doctor can prescribe a supplement.
4. Don’t Cold Turkey Everything
At one year, doctors also recommend removing the bottle from your child. This removal can be traumatic for a child. Some will refuse to give it up. Instead of removing the bottle and offering whole milk, try one or the other first. You can do the transition with the bottle, then change to a sippy cup. Some kids are better off cutting the bottle first and introducing milk in a cup.
For those who wonder when do babies stop drinking formula, the answer is typically around 1-year-old. This age may be extended for infants who don’t eat enough table foods yet.
You can continue to offer formula or toddler formula if your child isn’t eating a balanced diet. However, your goal should be to get rid of formula and transition to whole milk after they turn one.
Don’t rush the transition; your baby may need some time, but they will get there soon.