How Much Milk Does Your 1-Year-Old Baby Need? This Is What Paediatricians Say
10 mins read
Food & Nutrition for Toddlers
Milk, as we know, is very good for a growing baby or toddler. A powerhouse of protein, fat, vitamin D and calcium, it's essential to a baby’s diet. But, just how much milk should a toddler drink is where the real confusion occurs for us parents. This happens especially when we move our baby into solids foods and slowly wean him from breastmilk.
Many of us introduce our babies to a solid diet at the age of six months. At this time, we slowly wean the baby from breastmilk (or formula) and try and introduce new foods into their diet. One of the most worrying concerns for parents now is that by reducing the intake of milk, the baby won’t be getting all the nutrients they need. Since babies take time to accept and eat enough solid food, they still require a considerable amount of milk to meet their nutritional needs. How can we understand how much milk a toddler needs to drink? We asked paediatricians about the milk requirements of a 1-year-old baby and tips that moms must remember.
How Much Milk Should a 1-Year-Old Drink?
There are several questions that come to mind when it comes to the milk requirements of a 13-month-old. Here are a few:
When To Wean Your Baby
When it comes to weaning your child off breastmilk, there’s no right time for it. While some mothers might opt to wean their young ones from the age of 1, others might choose to continue breastfeeding until the age of 2. Weaning is, therefore, a personal decision that a mum should make when she’s ready and when her baby is comfortable being put on the bottle.
The main thing to remember is that once your child hits a year, his milk requirement isn’t as much as one would think, and he needs solid foods too. There is no doubt that babies still benefit from breastmilk after age 1, and baby-led weaning is the preferred approach of many moms. Extended breastfeeding also has many other advantages such as continued immunity building, preventing against dehydration, and giving your child a sense of relaxation under stress. (Read more about the pros and cons of extended breastfeeding here).
The point to be noted is that after the age of 1, milk becomes a beverage rather than a meal. It is best to slowly introduce your baby to other tastes and foods while continuing with milk alongside.
How Much Milk Does the Baby Need?
The ideal requirement of milk for 1-year-old babies should be no more than two to three 8 ounce (0.2L) cups per day. This is sufficient to provide them with their daily dose of calcium and vitamin D. Remember that filling your toddler’s tummy with a bottle of milk 4 to 5 times in a day is going to ensure that there’s no place left for other meals! Toddlers require nutrition from other foods as well. Milk alone doesn’t cut it, so do not exceed this limit.
Whole Milk vs. Skimmed Milk
As per paediatricians, whole milk is considered ideal for babies and should be included in a 12 or 13-month baby’s milk intake. It’s especially beneficial for toddlers who need to gain weight. If your child has a risk of obesity, however, it’s better to skip whole milk and settle for 2% milk instead. Once your toddler reaches the age of 2, skimmed milk becomes a more viable option.
Note: Avoid giving your child reduced-fat or low-fat milk as they don’t contain the right amount of protein or healthy fats that children need to grow.
How to Introduce Cow’s Milk to a 1-Year-Old?
Cow’s milk is a concern for many moms and with good reason. Doctors recommend that the introduction of cow’s milk should be delayed until your toddler turns 1. There are several factors behind this:
Babies are not able to digest cow’s milk as easily as breast or formula milk. They don’t usually take easily to the taste of it either
Cow’s milk, which is high in proteins and minerals, can take a toll on a baby’s underdeveloped kidneys
Cow’s milk doesn’t contain the right amounts of fat, protein and other nutrients that are needed for a healthy growing baby
Cow’s milk, which is low in iron, can also cause iron deficiency in babies that can lead to loss of blood through their stool
Dr Kristie Rivers (MD, FAAP) talks about when to give your 1-year-old cow’s milk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends delaying giving your child cow’s milk up until his first birthday.
Apart from not providing your baby essential nutrients for his development, it can also prove to be a problem by harming your baby’s underdeveloped kidneys, and causing bleeding in the stomach, intestines and stools, which later leads to anaemia.
Once cow’s milk is introduced to the baby, ensure that his daily intake is within the range of 24-32 ounces only, as any more can kill the baby’s appetite, and he won’t meet his nutritional needs with other healthy foods.
Other Tips For Feeding Milk To 1-Year-Olds
You can also follow these tips while considering the milk requirements for a 13-month-old:
Consider offering milk after meals and snacks. This is especially applicable to you if your child doesn't like eating solid food. It is possible that his tummy is getting full with the milk before he sits for his meal.
Do not rely only on milk for your baby's calcium needs. It should form a part of a varied diet. Try and feed your baby other calcium-rich foods such as spinach, ragi and fish. (See the complete list of calcium-rich foods for babies here.)
Common 1-Year-Old Feeding Concerns
Apart from the ‘when, what, and how’ of feeding a baby milk, there are certain other queries that pop up in parents’ minds. Here are some FAQs regarding 1-year-old’s feeding schedule and diet:
My baby always seems fussy after a feeding. Should I try changing her feeding schedule?
There can be several reasons your baby is fussy after her feeding. Some serious causes can be gas or reflux, which calls for consultation with the paediatrician. While a change in feeding schedule is not really recommended, you can incorporate certain minor changes as the baby goes through growth spurts, such as adding flavours, creating fun shapes with food, etc. You can also try these simple tips to try and comfort your baby after feeding:
Rock your baby gently in your arms, or while sitting in a rocking chair, or walk with her. Try various positions.
While feeding, try burping your baby more often.
Lie your baby tummy-down across your lap and rub her back.
Place a warm towel on your baby's belly. Ensure that it isn’t too hot.
Hold your baby in an upright position.
Another tip that can help is a car drive after the feeding, as the soft vibration and movement of the car tend to soothe the baby. Place her in the infant car seat and drive off!
Some babies respond to sound as well as movement. You can try to play soft music, or turn on a white noise equipment (like a dishwasher).
My baby only wants milk and does not have solids. How can I get him to eat solid foods?
There could be a few reasons as to why your baby may not be taking to solid foods. Here are some causes and what you can do to ease your baby into this new culinary experience!
If your 1-year-old is still on a midnight-feeding routine, he may be filling up on milk, and not wanting solid foods to satisfy his hunger. Reduce, and eventually put a stop to the midnight-feeding schedule, so that the baby has an appetite raring to go!
Teething is another cause, as it can cause pain and irritation to the baby, and make him less experimental with solid food. And as it happens, teething is a very long process. There are gels available that you can use to relieve the irritation.
There are sensory issues that the baby faces, which is dealing with a new, unfamiliar texture that they do not like. While this can be a starting phase if your child tends to gag, choke, appears unwilling or unable to swallow even the runniest of dishes, it’s best to consult a doctor.
Sneak in little bits of solids (like fruit dices, but big enough for the baby to not choke on) into a smoothie, ice-cream, or runny porridge.
Medical issues such as food allergies and acid reflux can also make babies reluctant to eat solids, and call for the doctor’s attention. If your child exhibits symptoms like rashes, bloating, diarrhoea, watery eyes etc. or appears visibly distressed after feeding, consult a paediatrician.
The tactic you may be using to feed your baby solids can also play a part in his interest, or lack thereof. Provide him plenty of options such as mashed bananas, avocado, yoghurt, applesauce, sweet potatoes, and so on. Patience is absolutely key and knows that it’s okay to delay feeding time if the child is not hungry at all. Avoid coercing your child into eating solid foods as it may only strengthen his aversion. Meal-times should be a fun experience, not a battlefield!
How much water should my 1-year-old drink?
While your baby gets most of the fluids they require in a day from breast milk/ whole milk, it is best to introduce water into their diet after their first birthday. By doing this, you help them get acquainted with a beverage that is not flavoured or sweetened but helps to quench their thirst. The Institute of Medicine's Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water states that the Adequate Intake (AI) of fluid for children from ages 1 to 3 should be 44 ounces per day, which is 1.3 litres. Out of this, 20 percent of fluid intakes comes from your baby’s food, and milk forms approximately 40 percent of the same; meaning that the average 1-year-old baby needs roughly 11-19 ounces (0.3L - 0.5L) of water a day.
Milk is an important part of a baby's diet and helps them to develop stronger bones and overall health. Keeping the above tips in mind will help you to ensure that your baby derives the maximum benefit out of this nutritious drink. In case your baby develops any side effects such as a skin rash or tummy upsets after consuming milk, please see the paediatrician. Some babies have lactose intolerance and may require alternative sources for their calcium needs.
Have you weaned your child off milk or are in the process? What foods have you introduced him to?