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5 Reasons You Should Only Introduce Cow’s Milk To Your Baby After 12 Months

Weaning to Solids

Whether you’re breastfeeding of bottle feeding, as you begin to think about introducing your baby to solids, suddenly you realise there’s a whole world of do’s and don’ts for babies.  It’s very confusing and often contradictory.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to not give cow’s milk until after 12 months. However, after 12 months when your child is ready to digest it, milk is an important part of the diet. It's a rich source of calcium which builds strong bones and teeth and helps regulate blood clotting and muscle control. And it's one of the few sources of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and is crucial for bone growth.  Milk also provides protein for growth, as well as carbohydrates, which will give your child energy.  If your child gets enough calcium from an early age, it is likely they will have a lower risk of high blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer, and hip fractures later in life.  However, introducing cow’s milk before 12 months can have consequences.Cow’s milk doesn’t contain all the essential nutrients of breast or formula milk.  In particular, cow's milk doesn't have the right amounts of iron, zinc, vitamins C, E, and copper. All these nutrients are essential for babies to grow and develop properly.Cow’s milk doesn’t contain all the essential nutrients of breast or formula milk.  In particular, cow's milk doesn't have the right amounts of iron, zinc, vitamins C, E, and copper. All these nutrients are essential for babies to grow and develop properly.

  1.  Cow’s milk doesn’t contain all the essential nutrients of breast or formula milk.  In particular, cow's milk doesn't have the right amounts of iron, zinc, vitamins C, E, and copper. All these nutrients are essential for babies to grow and develop properly.
  2. Cow’s milk is much harder for a baby to digest than breast or formula milk, as it contains too much sodium and protein for a baby’s delicate stomach to handle.  Although, from 8 months onwards it is possible to give foods which contain cooked or heated milk, as by cooking the proteins are helped to break down, so using a little milk in recipes such as Rice Pudding is fine for babies with no symptoms of family history of allergies.
  3. Cow's milk contains high concentrations of protein and minerals, which can tax your baby's immature kidneys and can hinder absorption of essential nutrients, particularly Iron, Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.  Deficiencies in Iron can cause things like Iron Deficient Anaemia in some babies, since cow’s milk protein can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestine, leading to loss of blood into the stools.
  4. Babies need fats.  Fat and fatty acids are essential for brain development.  Breast milk and formula milk contain everything a baby needs up to 12 months of age, whereas cow’s milk does not.  Even though some formulas are cow’s milk based, it has been developed so the proteins are digestible for babies.  It is recommended that babies and toddlers are given full-fat milk at least until they are 2 years old.
  5. Milk or milk protein allergies are common food sensitivities in babies.  If there is a family history of milk protein or lactose sensitivity it is more likely the baby will also be sensitive.  Breastfeeding or giving hydrolyzed formulas has shown to be more effective in preventing atopic disease such as Eczema (see the AAP recommendations).  Common symptoms of cow’s milk sensitivity or allergy include colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation.  For any of these symptoms, eliminate dairy from your diet for at least 10 days to 3 weeks and visit your doctor immediately.  Also note that if your baby is allergic to dairy, it may also include other foods such as soy.



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