Switching from Breast Milk or Formula to Cow’s Milk

baby with cup

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.

Eventually, you may want your baby to drink cow's milk for a number of reasons. Cow's milk is considerably cheaper than formula and is readily available.

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, you may want your baby to drink 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.

{ MORE: Making the Transition from Breast Milk or Formula to Cow's Milk Easier: What Worked for Me }

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.

What do you think?

Switching from Breast Milk or Formula to Cow’s Milk

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Heather Heather says:

    I was hoping to actually learn something from this article bc I’ve been wondering if my daughter who just turned a year should not be drinking formula anymore at all or if the toddler formulas would be a better nutritionally. This was def hard to read and the only reason it gives for introducing cow’s milk is because it’s”cheaper”?! Yes, that is true, but I’m sure I speak for the majority of mom’s in saying I’m more concerned about what is the best for my child, not what is the cheapest! And whoever wrote this should have broken it up into 2 articles, one about weaning from bottle to cup, and the other about transitioning from breast milk &/or formula to cow’s milk. Personally I feel like the toddler formulas would prob be more the more nutritious option, but it looks like I’m going to have to Google it since the author of this didn’t even mention toddler formula

  2. Profile photo of Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This article should be telling paren to trust their judgment and their babies. Because the babies will tell them when they are ready. You just need to be very watchful. If you have questions, ask someone who has kids, they will give you advice and their opinion. But, it doesn’t mean you have to follow it. Do what YOU think is best! You are the parent!!!!

  3. Profile photo of Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This has some good information in this article. However, we have been giving our son milk since he was 5 months old. Not much, when we eat a bowl of cereal he wanted some, so we gave him some. He loved it. Now he eats anything we give him at 9 months! And he drinks out of a cup!

  4. Profile photo of Theresa Theresa says:

    It seems to me this article mostly talked about switching baby to a cup more than actually transitioning to cow’s milk.. I started my baby with a cup at 4 months and she has become very good at it. She is now 17 months and can drink from a cup (no lid) without spilling (unless she does it intentionally). Anyway, when I tried to get my baby to drink cow’s milk, she pretty much hated it, so I gave her soymilk. She loved it. Now, all she drinks is soy milk when it’s offered to her.

  5. Profile photo of Ashley Ashley says:

    This article was very poorly written, I had a hard time even reading it. Also, the information that they are trying to get across is very one-sided. Every baby is different and parents should do what is best for their child, talking to your child’s own pediatrician about these matters is your best bet. I can’t believe this poorly written article was written by a doctor, or that a doctor would even write an article like this.

    • Profile photo of Angie Angie says:

      My thoughts exactly! Most opinions stated in this article are just that…. statements of opinion. Where are the references to scientific studies (& the dates of the research)? This article is ludicrous. Why do I “have” to wean my baby? At a year old, I “should be trying” to give my baby formula in a cup? What if my baby is exclusively breastfed? Ick… this article clearly lacks good editing… at least I hope that’s the case! Shame on you Everyday Family for posting this poorly written article.

  6. Profile photo of Melissa Melissa says:

    Calfs are the only ones that should consume cows milk. Hence why it is called cows milk!

  7. Profile photo of Bri Bri says:

    Uhhh.. okay idk about this article. I also don’t believe a child should drink cow’s milk. Sooo lets have a new informational article about cow’s milk. I also want to point out that cow’s milk does NOT make your bones strong. Don’t believe the hype.

  8. Profile photo of Randi Randi says:

    This article is not written well. It was hard for me to pick out the content because of the scattered nature of the writing.

  9. Profile photo of LIZ says:

    im not very sure about cows milk

  10. Profile photo of TaKeisha TaKeisha says:

    Very informative, I was told by another parent that they had started feeding their child cows milk earlier than a year and was telling me i should do the same. So this was very helpful in my decision. Thank you!

  11. Profile photo of Aimee Aimee says:

    Good information!

  12. Profile photo of meredith meredith says:

    Lots of good information, thanks.


Send this to a friend