- Official guidelines recommend parents hold off until babies are between nine and 12 months old before introducing cow's milk. Prior to that, it's not an appropriate substitute for breastmilk or formula.
- Most babies can begin consuming dairy foods around 6 months of age — after a few first solid foods have been introduced. Plain, whole-fat or whole Greek yogurt is a good first form of cow's milk protein for babies to try. Avoid the added sugar commonly found in yogurt marketed to babies and toddlers
- Whole cow’s milk, when included with a variety of foods, can support the growth and development of children over 1 year of age and is recommended as a replacement to formula at this age by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It contains about 150 calories per 8 ounces and is a good source of calcium, protein, fat and Vitamins A and D. Unless your child’s healthcare provider has a specific concern about obesity, choose whole cow’s milk rather than reduced fat cow’s milk (like 1% or 2% milk) until your child is 2 years old.
Low Fat Cow's milk
- The AAP now advises parents that reduced-fat milk might be appropriate for some children who are between the ages of 12 months and 2 years old if:
- The child is already overweight
- The child has family members who are overweight, have high cholesterol, or other health risk factors
- The AAP states that "young children need calories from fat for growth and brain development," and that ensuring a child is getting adequate amounts of these nutrients is especially important during the first two years of a child's life.
- For those with a sensitivity or intolerance to dairy, soy milk provides adequate calories and protein for the growing toddler. Look for soy milk that is unsweetened and fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. It is important to note, that approximately 40% of children who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy milk so soy milk and soy infant formulas are recommended for children only under specific circumstances
- Children with allergies to both cow and soy milk or who follow vegetarian or vegan diets often turn to rice milk, but this might not the best choice for your growing toddler as it’s low protein, fat, calorie, vitamin and minerals than other dairy alternatives. . If you choose to use rice milk, opt for unsweetened versions fortified with calcium and Vitamin D and make sure your toddler’s diet includes other sources of protein, healthy fats and vitamin and minerals.
- Almond milk, like rice milk, is low in protein and fat when compared to the unique nutrient needs of the younger toddler and therefore might not be the best choice as a milk alternative. If you choose to use almond milk, opt for unsweetened versions fortified with calcium and Vitamin D and make sure your toddler’s diet contains other sources of protein and healthy fats.
- While goat milk does contain more calcium, B6, vitamin A and potassium than cow milk, it lacks folate and B12. So if goat milk is your primary choice, it’s important to supplement with folate and B12 or choose fortified goat milk to serve as an adequate cow’s milk alternative
Resources: For educational purpose