Feeding Your Baby Cow’s Milk From 12 Months Old

cow's milk

The general recommendation from pediatricians is to introduce whole cow’s milk to a child’s diet at around 12 months of age. Before this, infants should primarily receive nutrition from breast milk or infant formula, which are specially designed to meet their nutritional needs during the first year of life.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Allergies and Intolerances:
    • Allergies: If your baby has shown signs of allergies, especially to cow’s milk protein, it is crucial to continue using a specialized formula. Consult with your pediatrician to determine the best course of action.
    • Lactose Intolerance: Some toddlers may have lactose intolerance, which requires lactose-free milk alternatives or specially formulated milk.
  2. Nutritional Intake:
    • Balanced Diet: Assess whether your toddler is consuming a balanced diet that includes sufficient fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Cow’s milk can be a good source of calcium and vitamin D, but it shouldn’t be the sole source of nutrition.
    • Formula for Fussy Eaters: If your toddler is a picky eater, they might benefit from toddler formulas that are enriched with additional nutrients to compensate for dietary gaps.
  3. Breastfeeding:
    • Continued Breastfeeding: Breast milk continues to provide valuable nutrients and antibodies even into the toddler years. If you and your toddler wish to continue breastfeeding, it can complement their diet well.
  4. Dietary Habits:
    • Meal Patterns: Ensure that your toddler has established meal patterns and is not overly reliant on milk for their calorie intake. Around two servings of milk (approximately 16-24 ounces) per day is typically recommended for toddlers, in addition to a variety of solid foods.
  5. Health and Development:
    • Growth Monitoring: Regular check-ups with your pediatrician can help monitor your toddler’s growth and development. If your child is growing well and meeting developmental milestones, transitioning to cow’s milk can be considered.
    • Iron Levels: Cow’s milk is low in iron and can interfere with iron absorption. Ensure your toddler’s diet includes iron-rich foods to prevent anemia.

Transition Tips:

  • Gradual Introduction: Start by mixing cow’s milk with formula or breast milk to help your toddler get used to the taste.
  • Serving Temperature: Some toddlers may prefer milk served at room temperature rather than straight from the fridge. Experiment to see what your child prefers.
  • Hydration: Ensure your toddler stays hydrated with water alongside their milk intake.


The transition from formula or breast milk to cow’s milk is a personalised process that depends on your toddler’s individual health, dietary habits, and nutritional needs. Consulting with your pediatrician can provide tailored advice and ensure that the switch is made safely and beneficially.

1. Does my baby have allergies? If so continue on the formula he is on.

2. Is my toddler a good eater? If you have a poor eater, you may need specially formulated toddler milk for fussy eaters.

3. Is my toddler on breast milk? Breast milk still offers wonderful nutrients into the toddler years.

If your baby is on cows milk formula and is a good eater on only two milk bottles a day (as he should be at this age) using cows milk is a good option.

-Meg Faure