Once babies turn 6 months old, the breast milk diet needs to be supplemented with solids and other healthy foods. Although many moms are tempted to start giving cow milk to the baby as soon as possible - pediatricians don’t recommend to introduce the cow’s milk to the babies before one year.
There is a lot of debate about what is the right age to start giving cow’s milk to the baby. A lot of elders claim that it is perfectly alright to give cow’s milk after 6 months of age as they had done this with their kids too.
However, new research has shown that early introduction of cow’s milk can result in IBS and diabetes later on in life.
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Some Nutritional Facts about Cow Milk
So, WHEN should you INTRODUCE COW MILK to your Baby?
- Milk is good for the bones of the child as it is a rich source of calcium.
- Emerging research has shown an increased intake of calcium and lactose from dairy products has been shown to prevent ovarian cancer.
- Cow's milk is a rich source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids required by a child’s growing body.
- It is an excellent source of potassium which helps to keep blood pressure low.
- It is also helpful for comfortable sleep, learning and memory.
You should give your child cow’s milk only after his first birthday.
Following are the reasons why you should introduce the cow’s milk only after the child is 1 year old
- Difficult to Digest – Cow’s milk contains a very high concentration of minerals and proteins and so it doesn’t get digested by babies as readily as mother’s milk. It can also put undue pressure on the child’s kidneys which are still developing.
- Lack of Iron – Cow’s milk doesn’t contain sufficient amount of Vitamin C and Iron and if the child has cow milk as his staple diet, then it can also lead to anemia in babies.
- Allergies - Cow’s milk can cause allergies in babies because of the protein composition in it.
- Diabetes - Emerging research has shown Diabetes is less common in babies who are given only breastmilk in the first year of life over those who were given cow milk as well.
How to Introduce Cow Milk to your Baby?
Mothers find it convenient to feed the cow milk to baby in a bottle - since the baby accepts it more easily than a cup. However, some experts have the opinion that it is better to give cow milk in a small sippy cup or a cup with a lid.
- Not all babies accept a sippy cup easily so you need to make that choice depending on the willingness of your baby. You can also wait for your baby to start liking the taste of cow milk and then replace the bottle with a cup or a glass.
- You can also give a mixture of 50% breastmilk and 50% cow milk and slowly wean off the breast milk completely.
- You can also try different ways to sneak in milk in your child’s diet like in halwas, porridges, kheer etc.
- Babies love curd - so instead of milk, you can try feeding curd as well.
Should you feed Full fat or Toned milk to your baby?
Most mothers consider full-fat milk more nutritious and healthy for their babies as it provides the much-needed energy to the baby in his growing years. Full fat milk also contains various vitamins that are very beneficial for the baby.While full fat milk does have it’s benefits, it is very difficult to digest for the baby. Many pediatricians also recommend mothers to give toned milk in place of full-fat milk.
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Why toned milk is better?
- It is easier to digest.
- Full-fat milk can make babies grow obese and leads to childhood obesity and several other health problems in future.
- Toned milk contains most of the nutrients but has fewer fats.
How much Cow milk should you give your baby?
After your baby turns one year of age, you may give about 350-400 ml of cow milk each day. This 400 ml of milk can be divided into 2-3 small portions, throughout the day.
What is the ideal temperature of Cow milk for a baby?
Some babies like warm milk, while some prefer it to be room temperature like breast milk. You can offer lukewarm milk to your baby in the winter months and slightly colder milk in the summer.
Should you continue to give Breast Milk in addition to Cow Milk?
Yes, you shouldn’t stop breastfeeding your baby. More than fulfilling the nutritional needs, breastfeeding provides a lot of emotional security to your baby. Many times, babies need comfort nursing just to be able to sleep peacefully. You can still continue to breastfeed your little one till about 2 years of age - or even longer if required.
As long as you’re able to produce enough milk and are not suffering from any health issues or pain in the nipples, you should breastfeed your baby. Research shows that babies who are breastfed longer are smarter, with better immunity and are more emotionally secure.
How to make the Transition from Breast Milk to Cow Milk Easier?
Here are a few tips to make the transition from Breast milk to cow milk easier:
- Always start with small sips and gradually increase the quantity so that your baby develops the taste and is able to digest it.
- Introduce cow milk at a time when your child is really hungry. The best time can be after the bath in the morning - as babies become hungry after that.
- If your child doesn’t accept cow milk and resists it, don’t force your child. Be patient with your child and try again.
- If your child completely rejects drinking cow milk, try other recipes like custard, porridge or add it to his cereals.
You must consult your pediatrician before you start giving cow milk to your child. If your baby shows any sign of allergic reactions after drinking cow milk, consult your pediatrician immediately.
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