Hints & Tips

Introducing Cow’s Milk To Your Baby

Introducing Cow's Milk To Your Baby

You may be wondering when your baby can have cow’s milk and how you should properly introduce it into their diet. The good news is that you’re not alone, many parents have questions about this particular topic.

That’s why we have compiled some of the most common questions asked by parents about giving cow’s milk to babies into this handy FAQ reference point for you.

Read on to find out when babies can have cow’s milk, when they can’t, and how to transition your baby over from breastmilk or formula.

When Is The Right Time To Transition To Cow’s Milk?

You can introduce cow’s milk into your little one’s diet from the age of 12 months. Although cow’s milk can be used in cooking from 6 months it isn’t suitable in volume before this age because it can cause stress to their immature digestive systems due to high concentrations of proteins which are harder for your baby to process.

How Much Cow’s Milk Should My Baby Drink?

Once your baby’s main source of milk is cow’s milk, it’s important to avoid giving them too much of it so that they don’t get too full and start rejecting other types of food.

Giving your baby at least 350ml - 400ml of cow’s milk per day is about right, that’s roughly 2 cups of milk. However, this can be made up of products made from milk such as yogurt or cheese.

We highly recommend giving your little one their milk from suitable cups designed for 6-12 month olds, as opposed to a bottle.

When Shouldn’t You Give Your Baby Cow’s Milk?

It’s also important to be aware of some of the reasons why babies can’t have cow’s milk. As mentioned above, giving your baby cow’s milk when they are too young can cause digestive upset.

Of course, a small percentage of children are allergic to or intolerant of dairy and will therefore be unable to drink cow’s milk at all.

If you are worried that your baby might be allergic to dairy, we recommend speaking to a doctor or dietician about alternatives.

Can Babies Have Other Types of Milk?

There are certain types of milk that do not contain enough fat for babies and should be avoided. These include:

  • Skimmed milk (less than 0.5% fat) not recommended until 5 years of age
  • Semi-skimmed milk (1-2% fat) this can be introduced from 2 years of age

There’s also other types of milk that come with their own recommendations.

  • Almond milk - it’s advised that Almond milk can be given as part of a healthy diet from the age of 1
  • Soy milk - Soy milk can be given as part of a healthy diet from the age of 1
  • Rice milk - should not be given until 5 years of age

Milk and dairy are important sources of nutrition, so if parents are planning on giving an alternative for any reason, they should discuss this with their primary care physician.

Should Cow’s Milk Replace Breastfeeding?

Once you have introduced cow’s milk into your baby’s diet, there is no reason to stop breastfeeding altogether if you and your baby are still happy to do so. Experts say that it is fine to continue breastfeeding your child after their first birthday and the World Health Organization advises that babies are breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond.

Read about how much your baby should be drinking.