Why should my baby avoid cow's milk in the first year?
Even though your baby is healthy and growing quickly, cow’s milk (and goat’s milk) aren’t recommended for her. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents wait until after her first birthday to introduce cow’s milk. There are several reasons:
- Improper balance: Cow’s milk and goat’s milk do not contain the right balance of nutrients your baby needs during the first year to grow and develop. These milks, which aren’t meant for human infants, contain excessive amounts of some vitamins and minerals that could stress your baby’s kidneys. Sodium, potassium, and protein levels are especially high.
- Not enough iron: Cow’s milk has insufficient amounts of iron for your baby’s developing brain, and the iron in cow’s milk isn’t easily absorbed. Lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency, or even anemia in more severe cases. Iron deficiency can have serious consequences, including slower growth, decreased social behavior, and lower learning ability. In addition, cow’s milk is low in zinc, vitamins C and E, and copper.
- Digestion problems: Your baby may have trouble digesting cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
After age 1, go ahead and introduce your baby slowly to whole cow’s milk. But don’t be tempted to serve reduced-fat or fat-free milk to a child less than 2 years of age. Little ones need the extra fat in whole milk to provide energy for their growing bodies and to help with brain development.
After 1 year of age, if your active, growing toddler is a picky eater, consider an older-baby formula. It’s a nutritious alternative to whole milk, as it offers more of important nutrients, such as iron, vitamins C and E, and zinc, than whole milk while providing the calcium a growing toddler needs.
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