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What's the deal with introducing cow's milk?

When can I give regular ol’ cows milk to my baby?

  • Around 12 months! your doctor or nurse practitioner might have separate guidance—It’s always good to check in with them.

  • Always offer a baby whole milk, their brains and bodies want that fat!

Do babies *need* cows milk?

  • Nope. Especially if your little one is drinking every 4 hours (ish) from the breast/chest throughout the day.

  • Human milk is higher in fat than cow’s milk and is tailor made for these bubs.

  • Cow’s milk is full of protein, vitamin d and calcium and is cost effective for families.

So why does it seem everyone switches to cow’s milk at a year?

  • Well, it’s convenient and built into our culture.

To be honest, my partner jumped right onto that milky cow train with our baby at 12 months. At this point she would offer her a bottle when I was either sleeping, working or nerding out at courses. Typically she would offer pumped milk but I stopped pumping at that point and we were sick of buying and wasting formula for random top-ups here and there. We also had whole milk in the house because I’m one of those weird adult milk drinkers.

Why do we have to delay the introduction of cow’s milk until around 12 months?

The main reason for delaying the introduction of cows' milk is to prevent the development of iron deficiency anemia. Too much cow’s milk can actually block the absorption of iron in baby’s gut 🤯

Iron is a big deal?

Oh yeah! At around 6 months our milk stops providing enough iron for our babies and they need it from an outside source (solids). This is also why I encourage folx to start with meat, fish, iron-fortified cereal, and other iron-rich edibles as baby’s first foods. More on that in another post!

All this to say...

  • Sure, introduce some cow’s milk for simplicity sakes when your PHC provider gives you the 👍🏼 if it’s in line with your religion/culture and family diet.

  • However, if your baby becomes a milkaholic (like my meatball became) cap their intake at 2-3 cups a day to ensure it doesn’t prevent adequate iron absorption.

Got more milk questions for me? Link in bio for a virtual consult 👊🏼

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