When Is It Safe to Give Cow’s Milk to My Baby?

The short answer from a pediatrician
1 year old drinking milk from bottle

A: Avoid feeding cow’s milk to any child younger than 12 months old.

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Fresh cow’s milk has been associated with small micro-bleeds in the digestive tracts of infants younger than 1 year old. It’s also low in iron, vitamin E and essential fatty acids, and it doesn’t have the ideal proportions of proteins and fats found in breast milk or formula. 

Are there other kinds of milk should I shouldn’t give my baby?

Besides cow’s milk you should avoid giving goat’s milk, soy milk or almond milk to infants under 12 months. They are not good for your child’s development and growth. Also avoid flavored milks like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. 

What should babies drink?

Stick with feeding your baby breast milk and/or properly prepared iron-fortified infant formula.

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You can typically introduce cheese and plain yogurt to infants younger than 1 year of age, but seek advice from your pediatrician if your child has a milk protein intolerance or milk allergy.

It’s also generally acceptable to use small amounts of milk for cooking or for the preparation of other infant-appropriate foods, but avoid cow’s milk to drink until after your baby’s first birthday.

If your child has a milk allergy or other issues with cow’s milk your pediatrician or registered dietitian can suggest the healthiest, safest nutrition plan.

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— Pediatrician Kimberly Churbock, MD

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