For babies, milk is an essential medium to obtain all the important nutrients for their growth and development. A mother's breast milk is the most nutritious feed for the baby, however as they grow and owing to various reasons, formula feeding can be adopted. But many are also of the belief that cow's milk is perhaps really good for babies over 12 months. So, can babies drink cow milk? Here's all you need to know regarding the comparison.
Although a mother's breast milk is the best form of nutrition for babies, instances when there is low milk supply or some other health concerns may urge a mom to go for formula feeding after the advice of your doctor. But when it comes to choosing between formula milk and cow's milk, the dynamics become different. Growing children are often recommended to drink cow's milk every day. Even as adults we consume cow's milk on a daily basis.
However, babies below one year of age have a delicate digestive system and it is recommended that they be fed formula milk over cow milk. So, why is cow's milk not recommended for infants? A comparison between formula milk and cow's milk shows us which one is the winner when it comes to your little one.
Formula Milk vs. Cow Milk
Greater Iron In Formula Milk Than Cow’s Milk
Infant formula milk comprises greater amounts of iron, which is an essential nutrient for your baby’s health, and therefore this form is better than cow’s milk. If you use cow’s milk, which contains lesser amounts of iron than formula, your baby may suffer from anaemia. So, if you really need to substitute breast milk with any other milk, it is advisable to go for formula for babies over one year of age.
Watch: Paediatrician Discusses WHEN to Give Cow's Milk to Babies
More Amounts Of Vitamins Than Cow’s Milk
Formula milk also contains greater amounts of essential vitamins than those present in cow’s milk. Therefore, formula serves as a better alternative than cow’s milk when you are looking for a substitute for the breast milk in the first year for your baby. ||
Formula Is Easier For Babies To Digest Than Cow’s Milk
Your infant may not be able to digest cow’s milk easily and entirely, however, he/she can digest formula milk completely with ease. So, formula is a better and convenient choice than cow’s milk.
Formula Milk Doesn’t Stress Baby’s Kidneys Like Cow’s Milk
High concentrations of various minerals and proteins present in the cow’s milk can stress your infant’s immature kidneys. This can make your baby suffer from serious illnesses intensifying diarrhoea, heat stress, and fever.
Perhaps every mother who was advised to switch to cow's milk for her baby must have wondered at some point in time - is cow milk good for babies? The short answer is 'no'. Cow’s milk protein allergy is one of the most common allergies that your baby may suffer if you feed them cow’s milk. Red itchy rash around your infant’s mouth, vomiting, diarrhoea, hives on the body, and running nose are some of the symptoms of cow’s milk allergy that your baby may suffer from after consuming cow’s milk. Hence, it is advisable to offer formula milk to a baby instead of cow’s milk at least till he/she turns one-year-old.
Cow’s Milk Lacks Healthy Fats
Cow’s milk lacks certain healthiest types of fats that are crucial for appropriate growth and development of your growing baby. So, it is advisable to give your baby formula milk, which contains essential fats to promote the appropriate development of your dearest little one.
Introducing Cow's Milk to Babies
So, when can babies drink cow's milk instead of formula? Considering these benefits of formula milk over cow’s milk and disadvantages of cow’s milk vs formula, it is quite evident that formula milk is much more suitable as compared to cow’s milk for babies under one year. So, make sure you nurse your baby with formula milk for their good health till that time.
Once your baby crosses the 1-year mark, you can slowly start switching from formula to cow's milk. For your 1-year-old, it is recommended to limit milk consumption to 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cow's milk daily. Gradually increase this to 2 cups by the time your baby is 2 years old. Remember to not feed your little one too much milk (more than 4 cups) as that can interfere with their regular diet of solid foods. Only milk is not sufficient for your baby's development, and consuming too much can spoil his appetite.
When you are wondering how to transition from formula to cow's milk, keep the following pointers in mind:
Avoid feeding your child low-fat milk unless the doctor recommends it to fight off an obesity risk. Whole milk is recommended for small children to fufil their dietary requirements in this growing age
If your baby doesn't seem to like the taste of cow's milk, consider mixing it up in cereal, or feeding dairy products like cheese and yoghurt
Watch out for symptoms of a milk allergy or intolerance. See the doctor if your child shows symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting or rashes
Transitioning from formula to milk – when and how should it be done?
As explained above, it is advisable to wait till your baby has crossed the 1-year mark before offering her cow’s milk. It is best to start with smaller quantities and then gradually increase the amount of cow’s milk offered. For 1 to 2-year-old children, do not offer more than 2 cups of cow’s milk in a day. For children older than 2 years, do not exceed beyond 4 cups. You can use the cow’s milk to make your baby’s formula (using water to make up the rest of the volume).
What should I feed to toddler – formula or milk?
Toddlers (between 1 and 3 years of age) can be fed cow’s milk. However, make sure the transition is gradual. Do not completely discontinue formula milk till your child gets used to the taste of cow’s milk. It might take a while, depending on personal preferences of your little one.
Is it OK to mix cow’s milk and formula?
Yes. In fact, that is the ideal suggested method of transitioning from formula to cow’s milk – by using a little bit of cow’s milk while making the formula. You can shift to a full cow’s milk feed by slowly changing the proportion of cow’s milk and formula in the mixture. Depending on how your child reacts, this may take between 3 weeks and a couple of months.
Why is cow milk not recommended for babies?
As mentioned in previous sections of the article, cow’s milk has a higher concentration of various minerals and proteins that put an unnecessary load on your baby’s delicate digestive system. These ingredients can give your baby myriad health problems – ranging from minor allergies to major liver, kidney and other organ disorders.