Switching from Breast Milk or Formula to Cow’s Milk
The best source of nutrition for a baby is breast milk. Every group examining infant feeding has come to this same conclusion. It should not be a surprise. Breast milk, after all, is made to feed babies. A baby does not need any other food source but breast milk for the first six months of life. Women are also encouraged to breast feed longer than that for at least some of the feedings.
Cow’s milk differs from human milk in a number of ways, all significant. It has more protein, too much for a baby. It also has too much salt. The protein in cow’s milk is not well-absorbed by babies, and it can cause small amounts of bleeding in the intestinal tract. In addition, there is no iron in cow’s milk. The combination of losing blood and not getting any iron can lead to anemia, or low red blood counts, in babies. Breast milk also has more fat and cholesterol, which are actually needed by the growing baby. Breast milk has antibodies and other non-nutritional benefits that go way beyond just food.
Infant formulas are better for babies than cow’s milk, although not as good as breast milk. The formulas try and approximate human milk. If you are not breast feeding, you are giving the baby formula in a bottle.
Or you may be breast feeding and using supplementary formula.
Eventually, your baby has to be drinking cow’s milk for a number of reasons. Cow’s milk is considerably cheaper than formula and is readily available. It is still a good source of protein and the best source of calcium that anyone can get as they grow older.
Your baby has to be weaned from the breast, or from the bottle. An older child will not be breast feeding (in most cases) or bottle feeding. He or she has to learn how to drink from a cup. Most babies are ready to try a cup at about 6 months of age, but are not fully weaned until 9 to 18 months. This is a separate issue from switching to cow’s milk. However, the two often overlap. Your baby will also most likely be eating solid food at this point and getting some nutrition from that. He or she will not need as much milk as previously.
Your baby cannot digest cow’s milk until he or she is a year old. At that point, you should be trying to give him/her formula in a cup. If he or she is using a cup successfully, that is where you will introduce cow’s milk. You can try giving it to your baby straight. If he or she hates it, the best thing to do is introduce it gradually. That means mixing milk and formula. At the beginning, you should use mainly formula with a little milk. If your baby drinks the mix without any protest, you can begin to increase the amount of milk and decrease the amount of formula. Eventually, you will be giving your baby whole milk.
If your baby will not use a cup consistently and is still taking a bottle, you can use the same methods with a bottle.
If your baby is only taking the breast, he or she has to learn to take a bottle or a cup. At a year’s age, it may be time for the cup. However, if your baby is not ready, you can give him breast milk in a bottle or formula in a bottle. Similarly to using a cup, you can gradually mix in whole cow’s milk. It is probably easier to mix milk with formula than breast milk.
So there are two things related to the switch to cow’s milk. Weaning from the breast or bottle and learning to use a cup. You need to be careful not to give your baby too much juice from a cup because his or her appetite may be dulled. No more than 4 to 6 ounces a day is recommended.
Some infants seem to object to the temperature of milk. If necessary, you can heat the milk a little, but eventually your child will have to drink cold milk from a cup.
For some babies, this switch is very easy. For others, it takes longer. If you are weaning from the breast at the same time, it may be more difficult for you and your baby. It is easier to introduce the bottle and or cup first, sometime between 6 months and a year at the latest. Some women prefer to breast-feed even longer, which is perfectly healthy. However, your toddler needs to learn how to eat solid food and drink from a cup. Even if it is difficult, you and your baby will make this transition.
What do you think? Switching from Breast Milk or Formula to Cow’s Milk