How to Introduce Cow's Milk to your Baby
Submitted by Devanshi Maniar
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash
We have heard elders say to new mothers to start cow’s milk once the baby is 6 months old, or sometimes even earlier if mother has insufficient milk. They sometimes ask us to dilute it by adding water. At least I know because I have gone through this. On the other hand, doctors ask new moms to introduce cow milk only after baby is 1 year old. My doctor said, cow milk is for calf and human milk is for human babies. Here is why I agreed with the doctor.
Baby's digestive system takes up to one year to develop completely. Babies can't digest cow's milk as completely or easily as breast milk or formula. Cow's milk contains high concentrations of protein and minerals, which can tax your baby's immature kidneys.
Cow's milk doesn't have the right amounts of iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients for infants. It may even cause iron-deficiency anaemia in some babies, since cow's milk protein can irritate the lining of the digestive system, leading to blood in the stools. Finally, cow's milk doesn't provide the healthiest types of fat for growing babies.
This does not mean baby should never be fed cows milk. Babies above one year should be introduced to cows milk as a part of balanced diet along with other solids including cereals, fruits, vegetables and meat.
Milk is a rich source of calcium, which builds strong bones and teeth and helps regulate blood clotting and muscle control. It's also one of the few sources of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and is crucial for bone growth.
Milk also provides protein for growth, and carbohydrates to give your child the energy he needs all day.
Also, it is ok if your baby is being breast fed past its first birthday. Breast feeding can be continued even when the baby is introduced to cows milk. A 1 year old can start with half a cup of cow milk twice a day gradually increasing it to maximum 4 cups by the age of 3 years. Milk should be a part of diet and not a substitute of any meal.
I was keen in travelling a lot with my little one, so I introduced all varieties of milk available in the market, swapping one with other. All varieties included cow milk, buffalo milk (which is commonly used these days), powder milk using dairy whitener, skimmed milk, low fat milk, soy milk. Also, I had introduced almond milk to Kiana since she was 10 months. Trust me, this has made her adaptive and easier to travel with.
Also know that each baby is different and mumma, you know the best. Some babies accept cows milk in first attempt while some may be hesitant because its taste and consistency and texture is different from that of breastmilk. I would suggest you to mix breast milk along with cow milk initially and the gradually introduce 100% cow milk.
Also, its a challenge to make babies drink milk and give balanced diet to toddlers. I would use following tricks to ensure she has her milk:
- Give her plain milk.
- Add honey to her milk (yes, after 1 year also I ensure minimum sugar) to change taste
- Add turmeric to milk to change colour. My princess believes that its golden milk meant for princesses and she gulps it down
- Change the glass in which she drinks milk. A saucer, big glass, tall glass, a wine glass, various mugs, all these worked with me. Sometimes I even let her drink from a wok
- I sometimes put dry fruit powder (all or one at a time), saffron strands, etc. to make it healthier
- Milkshakes go well in the evenings
- Add some cereal to make it filling
- Serve yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding, custard, or shakes for snacks
- Make soup with milk instead of water
- Rashes or hives, especially around the mouth or chin
- Abdominal discomfort
And chronic nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, cough, wheezing, or breathing difficulties could all be signs that a milk allergy is affecting your child's respiratory system. If your toddler develops any of these symptoms, talk with his doctor.
Hope you agree to why I agreed to introduce cow milk to my little one only after her first birthday. Do let me know your feedback in the comments section.