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Transitioning your baby to cow’s milk

Do you have questions about when to transition your baby from breastmilk or infant formula to cow’s milk? Then read on to find out what you need to know.

When should I introduce cow’s milk?

You can introduce 3.25% homogenized whole cow’s milk at 9 to 12 months of age once your baby is eating a variety of iron rich foods at least twice a day. Offer cow’s milk in a regular cup (not a sippy cup).  This will help your baby learn how to drink.

How much cow’s milk should my baby drink?

When you have transitioned your baby to cow’s milk and it’s your baby’s main milk source, offer about 2 cups (500 mL) a day. Don’t give more than 3 cups (750 mL) of milk per day. Too much milk can fill your baby up and not leave room for other foods.

Can I give my baby other types of milk?

Skim milk (0% milk fat) and partly skimmed milk (1% and 2% milk fat) are not recommended under the age of 2 because they are too low in fat.  Fortified Soy, rice, almond, coconut and hemp beverages are also not recommended for children under the age of 2 because they are too low in fat and protein. 

What if my baby can’t drink whole cow’s milk?

If your baby has a milk allergy or intolerance, is vegan, or avoids milk products for any reason, speak to your doctor about alternatives. You can also call 1-877-510-510-2 to speak to an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian.

What about vitamin D for your baby?

If you breastfeed (or partially breastfeed and give formula), continue to give your baby a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU after you introduce cow’s milk. The vitamin D supplement should be given until your baby is 2 years old. If you only give infant formula and are transitioning to cow’s milk, you do not need to give a vitamin D supplement.  If you are not sure whether your baby needs vitamin D, talk with your health care professional.

Bottom line

You can introduce 3.25% homogenized whole cow’s milk at 9 to 12 months of age once your baby is eating iron rich foods at least twice a day. Continue to breastfeed your baby for up to two years or beyond. If you have questions about transitioning your baby to cow’s milk, call 1-877-510-510-2 to speak to an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian or send an email.

You may also be interested in

Introducing solids to your baby
Introducing solids to your baby: Safety tips
All about homemade baby food
All about store bought baby food
Food allergies and babies

Last Update – February 9, 2018

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