When to Introduce Whole Milk
Pasteurized, homogenized 3.25% whole cow’s milk can be introduced at 9 to 12 months of age once your baby is eating a variety of iron rich foods at least twice a day. But because whole cow milk is not an adequate source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to properly sustain an infant’s growth, breast milk and/or formula should be their primary source of fluid until 12 months of age. Early introduction to whole cow’s milk can cause iron deficiency anemia since milk hinders the proper absorption of iron and may lead to kidney issues due to its high levels of protein, sodium and potassium.
Whole cow’s milk is recommended until 2 years of age because during this period of rapid growth and brain development, higher calories and fat content is required. In addition, the higher fat content of whole milk maintains normal weight gain and helps the body to absorb vitamins A and D. At age 2, you may decide to switch to low fat, 1%, 2% and skim milk products as long as your little one is growing well.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a 1 year old will receive a sufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D from 8 to 12 ounces of whole cow’s milk. At 2 years of age, your toddler should get 16 ounces of whole cow’s milk.
In the event that your little one is hesitant to make the switch, try mixing the whole cow’s milk with some breast milk or formula. Gradually increase the ratio of whole milk to breast milk or formula until they are drinking 100% whole milk. It may also be helpful to offer the whole milk at room temperature.