What is known as a fact, may change the next day. Milk is one of these facts that have changed in time. Today experts recommend that we avoid giving our baby cow's milk until they are 1 year old and furthermore cow's milk should be limited after the age of 1 as well. Why?
● Babies' digestive systems are not fully developed until they are one year old. As a result, babies cannot digest the protein in cow's milk.
● Cow's milk contains high levels of nutritious content such as sodium and potassium. And these may irritate the liver of the babies’ livers.
● Cow's milk doesn't contain the right amounts of vitamin and minerals like iron, Vitamin E and zinc that are important for development of the baby. Giving cow's milk to babies before they are one year old may cause iron-deficiency and may even lead to bleeding in intestines.
● Once your child is one year old, you may safely include cow's milk in your baby’s diet. Milk, which is a great source of calcium, potassium and Vitamin A, which will have great contribution in development of your baby’s bones and teeth.
It may take some time for some children to switch from breast milk or formula to cow's milk as its texture and taste is quite different. If that's the case for your child, try mixing cow's milk with some breast milk or formula at first. You may start low and increase the amount in time.
If your child completely refuses to drink cow's milk, don't get upset; don't force him. You may continue to give him breast milk or formula after he is one year old as well. And good news is, this is not your only option. There are hundreds of ways to add milk in your child's diet. A delicious pudding served with fruits or a yummy soup made with milk instead of water can be good alternatives. Probably your kid will love them and enjoy a delicious meal.
Cheese and yoghurt contains all the benefits of milk; on top they are easier to digest so you may enjoy them comfortably, without any concerns.
Milk allergy, on the other hand is a totally different condition. Only a very few children show allergic reactions to milk. And they don't even need to drink cow's milk for this condition to arise. They may develop this reaction both to formula or foods made with cow's milk as well.
Why should I wait until my baby is at least 1 year old to introduce cow's milk?
Amount of calcium your child gets during his first years is very important for his bone development. Milk is a great source of calcium. It is important that your child drinks 400/500 mls of milk, in other words 2-3 glasses of milk until age of 2. However, don’t forget that too much milk would be hazardous as well. Milk that is rich in calcium does not have the right amounts of iron. Furthermore, if your child drinks too much milk, he may loose interest in other foods.
Lactose is the sugar in milk. Body needs to secrete enough amounts of a special enzyme to digest lactose. If this is not possible, lactose that cannot be digested remains in the digestive system and causes digestion problems like swelling, abdominal discomfort. This is a symptom that rarely occurs in lactose intolerant babies and children. Usually this develops at later ages. If you think your child is having milk related digestion problems, please consult your doctor.