First Birthday and the Transition to Whole Milk 
Monday, May 26, 2014 at 12:15AM
Dr. Brown in Practical Parenting, cow's milk, milk, transition to cup, weaning

Around the time that you're singing Happy Birthday to your babe, you'll also be introducing them to whole milk. Pediatric nutrition experts recommend that children between 1-2 years of age should drink 12-24 ounces of whole milk daily (older children should switch to low fat milk rather than whole milk). However, like all other milestones, some kids take the switch in stride, while others have a harder time adjusting. Here are some tips on easing the transition if you hit a few bumps in the road:

Introduce milk in a sippy cup at the times your child would have had a bottle or breastfed.  Try all sorts of sippy cups (sometimes the fancier cups are more problematic.  Many kids (my own included) initially prefered the cheaper "Take and Toss" variety to any of the more expensive "no spill" varieties.  Many parents opt for the "cold turkey" approach to stopping bottles and this works well for many kids. 

If Junior isn't too excited about the milk in a cup - try warming the milk at first (gradually you can warm it less and less until they accept cold milk straight from the fridge).

Be sure your child isn't filling up on other liquids (juice being the main culprit here).  Water is fine, but if juice is also an option, many kids will bypass the milk in favor of the juice all day long! 

Some kids refuse to drink the milk from a cup at first.  Don't panic! Here are two ways to tackle this problem.

- First, realize that milk is now just a small part of your child's overall nutrition (as opposed to the first 12 months of his life when milk was his main nutrition with solid foods taking a backseat to the formula or breastmilk).  If he refuses to drink milk, just increase dairy intake of other calcium rich foods (yogurt, cheeses, etc).  But be sure to look for products that also contain Vitamin D and/or discuss with your pediatrician whether your child may need any additional Vitamin D supplements.

- Mix it up.  To ease the transition to cow's milk, many parents find that mixing it with breast milk or formula works well.  For example, if your daughter has been taking a 6 ounce bottle of formula, start by mixing 5 ounces of formula with 1 ounce of whole milk. The next day, mix 4 ounces of formula with 2 ounces of milk. Each day continue increasing the amount of whole milk by one ounce and decrease the amount of formula by one ounce. 

But I warn against switching over to chocolate milk early on, as this usually results in a child who ultimately refuses regular milk (and is just frustrated that the chocolate milk isn't the option every time milk is presented).

 

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