When to Introduce Cow's Milk

Toddler (12+ months)
By Gerber

Waiting on Milk for Baby

Why should you wait until at least their first birthday?

Your baby needs many nutrients for healthy growth and development but unfortunately cow's milk doesn't have the same amounts of nutrients that are in breastmilk or formula. It's not just iron, cow’s milk doesn’t have the balance of fats infants need, and may not contain the right types of fats—like DHA and ARA—to help support brain or eye development. It's fine to wait until even later if you are breastfeeding now—overall the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests parents wait to introduce cow’s milk until after their baby’s first birthday.

So what time is the right time for cow's milk?

The rule of thumb is to wait until your child's first birthday. Your Toddler is ready for milk if they eat a balanced diet of grains and cereal, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein and has not shown symptoms of being allergic to cow’s milk.


What types of milk do Toddler's need?

  • Whole milk is generally recommended because your Toddler needs the extra fat for their growing body and healthy brain development.
  • If your Toddler is overweight or has other health risks, talk to your pediatrician to see if you should switch to low-fat milk.

How much milk is enough?

Your toddler may love milk, but it’s important to limit the amount they drink to 16 fl. oz. or 2 cups per day to meet most of their daily calcium needs without making them too full to eat other healthy foods.

How should you introduce cow's milk?

You can take your time to make the change—no rush here. Gradually add milk into your child’s diet as you wean them from breastmilk or infant formula. Your pediatrician can help answer any questions, so don't hesitate to reach out if you have them.

What alternatives are there to cow's milk?

If you’re concerned that your Toddler’s diet isn't as well-balanced as it could be, you may decide to offer a Stage 3 toddler drink instead.

Here's what these types of toddler drinks can offer:

  • Calcium to support growing bones and teeth.
  • DHA and ARA, for brain and eye development.
  • Essential nutrients, such as Iron and Vitamin C.
  • Some toddler drinks have the added benefit of a probiotic. B. Lactis is a probiotic to help support digestive health.