It’s perfectly fine for your growing baby to drink cow’s milk. Here’s why.
By the time your tiny infant becomes an active tot at around 12 months, most of his calories should come from a well-balanced diet (food from the 4 main food groups of grains, meat and alternatives, fruits and vegetables, should be his main nutritional source). This diet should be supplemented with milk – about 500ml daily, spread out over three to four times across his waking hours.
At this age, you can consider introducing him to full cream cow’s milk and switching from formula milk. Cow’s milk is rich in protein and calcium – important minerals for the healthy growth of bones and teeth.
But what about growing-up or Stage 3 formula milk? While it is not wrong to give your child this type of milk, it is not necessary and may be denser in calories. This could reduce your toddler’s appetite for other foods and possibly result in a preference for milk over foods. So, if your tot is eating and growing well, the extra calories and nutrients found in formula milk are not required, as he will already obtain these from his well-balanced diet.
There are three main types of full cream cow’s milk – chilled pasteurised, UHT (ultra-high temperature) and powdered full cream milk. Nutritionally, they are similar, although their shelf lives differ. Feel free to go with what suits your child’s palate.
Filled milk, which is reconstituted with a fat or oil of non-milk origins, is not suitable for your toddler. Examples include evaporated milk and condensed milk, which are high in sugar and saturated fat.
However, if your tot is still on breast milk, continue this practice for as long as possible and suits your lifestyle.
Allergies and other considerations
If your toddler is allergic to cow’s milk, has a medical condition or is on a vegan diet, it’s best to check with your doctor before changing his formula. Typically, you can consider unsweetened or reduced sugar milk alternatives such as soy, almond or rice milk – look for calcium-fortified versions.
Otherwise, you can continue with Stage-2 soy-based or extensively hydrolysed formula. As soy-based milk has about half the calories of full-fat cow’s milk, you will need to include more energy-dense food in his diet.
No matter what your child’s milk preferences are, remember to feed him a variety of food from all four main food groups so he can receive all the nutrients he needs!
How to introduce full cream cow’s milk to toddlers
Full cream cow’s milk will probably take a little getting used to for your tot as the taste is new. Start by mixing full cream cow’s milk with his regular milk. Do it a little at a time until he is used to the taste. Experts recommend starting with a ratio of one part whole milk to three parts of regular milk, and gradually shifting the ratio until he is drinking 100 percent milk. You can also add full cream cow’s milk to his cereal and other foods.
— Brought to you by Health Promotion Board —