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Switching From Formula to Cows Milk

Switching From Formula to Cows Milk

The time has flown and it is nearly your precious baby's first birthday, it’s such an exciting milestone for you and your baby! When your formula fed baby turns 1 it's time to begin making the switch from formula to whole (full-fat) milk. Your 1 year old will need this extra fat to support brain development and the nutritional composition of whole milk will be better suited to your young child’s needs than formula. 

When you started weaning, you probably would have started to include dairy into your baby’s diet through cheese, yoghurt or porridge made with cow's milk, if so, your child should have no problem making the transition from formula to cow’s milk. If your child is diagnosed with CMPA I would advise you to speak with your PHN or GP to discuss suitable cow’s milk alternatives. 

According to the HSE, follow on milk is not necessary. By the time your child is 1 year old they should have a well-balanced diet, including foods that are rich in iron. 

How to make the change? 

A big question mark over making the switch is how to go about it. There are different ways to do it, either a straight swap or a gradual approach. 

Some parents decide on a straight swap; just a complete switch once your child turns 1. Put simply, removing formula completely after your child turns 12 months old and offering the usual amount of whole milk in its place, either warmed up or chilled. 

Some babies are quick to adapt to change and some are not, if they are refusing the change a gradual approach may be a better fit for your child. 

If you decide on a gradual approach, a suggestion is; 3 ounces of prepared formula and 1 ounce of whole milk; then 2 ounces of prepared formula and 2 ounces of cow’s milk, and continue this daily until only cow’s milk is in the cup. 

Why in a cup?

By 12 months of age your baby will have the motor skills to use a cup and it is a natural transition that goes hand in hand with the switch from formula to cow's milk. I always suggest offering a cup or beaker from day 1 of weaning. This way your child will have gotten used to seeing, using and handling the cup, so by the time they turn 1 they will be comfortable with it. By using a cup or beaker you also reduce the risk of bottle related teeth cavities. 

The HSE recommends to aim that by 12 months of age, a non-lidded beaker will be used for all drinks other than breastfeeds

The type of cup or beaker you use is completely your choice. You have two options: a cup (that will spill!) or a sippy cup/ beaker. If you choose a beaker, start off with a soft, pliable, nipple-like spout, which will feel more familiar to your baby than a hard plastic spout. If your baby refuses one type of cup, then try another. You may need to try several styles before you find one that the baby likes. 

How much whole milk a day? 

Remember, from 12 months old you must consider milk as a drink and not as a meal. By 12 months old your child will be getting the bulk of their calories and nutrition from food. The HSE recommends giving your child a beaker of milk at the 3 main meals a day, from 1 year on. This is approximately 600ml or 1 pint of milk a day in total. 

Also consider any additional dairy your child may consume throughout the day from yoghurts, cheese etc. Try to monitor how much milk your child is consuming as too much can lead to anaemia as large amounts of milk can prevent absorption of the iron in the foods your baby is eating. Too much milk can also hide your child's hunger cues if they are too full up from milk! 

What if I’m breastfeeding? 

Breastfeeding is recommended in Ireland until children are 2 years of age or beyond. If you are breastfeeding, you can also add cow’s milk to your child’s cereal or offer cow’s milk as a drink. - HSE Ireland

If you would like to find out more about offering a cup or a beaker to your child, you can find more information here.



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