Introducing Cows’ Milk

Development |


Milk is still an important part of a one-year old’s diet. Although they need less of it, the white stuff gives them valuable protein, energy, vitamins and minerals such as calcium. And at this age, they’ll need about ½-¾ pint (about 300-400 ml) each day – any more than that and they might not have space in their tummy for food.

Formula vs cows’ milk for babies

Switching from formula milk feeds to whole (full fat) cows’ milk around the time of their first birthday is considered a milestone by many. But is it actually the best thing to do?

Cows’ milk can give little ones lots of the nutrients they need. But it’s nowhere near as high in iron as formula milk. Toddlers are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 toddlers in the UK may be anaemic, with the problem being even greater than this in some groups.

Why little ones need extra iron

Up until the age of six months, babies rely on the iron stores they were born with. After this, their iron levels need to be topped up by food sources. If a toddler doesn’t eat enough iron-rich foods to meet their needs, they may become iron deficient. And fussy eating – another common issue at this age – can certainly make the situation worse. For everyone!

If your toddler is a fussy eater or their intake of iron-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils and fortified foods including breakfast cereals is limited, they may well benefit from the continued use of a formula milk. At this stage it would be a Growing up Milk after one year.

These Growing up Milks usually contain 40 times more iron than whole cows’ milk. But don’t think it means you can stop encouraging your little one to eat other foods. Variety isn’t just the spice of life. It’s the key to a healthier diet for your growing child.

Which cows’ milk, and when?

Remember, if you are giving your toddler cows’ milk, don’t switch to semi-skimmed milk until they are at least two years old – and only if they are eating well and have a varied diet. Skimmed milk should not be given to children under the age of five years old, as it is too low in fat and energy.

To find out more about babies and cows’ milk, see our expert advice on drinks at this age.