Due to medical reasons, children should not have whole milk until after their first birthday.
As a parent you may wonder why you can’t just go to the grocery store and pick up a gallon of milk for your little one. After all, it’s cheaper than formula and quite convenient. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that whole milk should not be given until after the first birthday, and there are clear medical reasons for that recommendation.
What’s so bad about cow’s milk for infants?
Infants who are fed cow's milk miss out on essential nutrients, such as iron and certain fatty acids. Cows milk is also too high in protein, sodium, and potassium, which puts a strain on a baby's kidneys. Also, whole milk is too hard for a baby's little, immature GI tract to absorb. It can even irritate the lining of the stomach, causing blood in the stools, which can lead to anemia. Untreated, anemia can lead to serious medical and developmental problems down the road.
When can I give cow’s milk?
You can give your baby cow’s milk after his or her first birthday, but no more than 24 to 32 ounces per day. If you offer any more than this, your baby will likely fill up on milk and not want to eat nutritious foods. Also, he will consume too many calories, which could lead to obesity. Be sure to follow up with your pediatrician at every well child visit to discuss your child’s nutrition and growth.