Question – Replace one formula feed with cows’ milk?
My son is just over 10 months and has three bottles a day of formula (6oz at 7.30, 5oz at 2.30 and 8oz at 6.30). I’m wondering if it would be OK for me to switch his 2.30 bottle to cows’ milk now to get him used to changing over completely at a year. I know it’s not advised to offer milk as a drink before a year but it’s only for six weeks and is only 5 oz at the most.
Whilst I think it would probably be perfectly safe to switch the formula and use cows’ milk at this age, I would still advise you to wait until your child turns one to do so. That may sound confusing, so let me explain. Guidelines like this and many others, from recommended vitamin intakes to not giving honey until the first birthday, are designed to take in the needs of just about all people. They take into account that people’s bodies vary, and that some will develop and start to eat a balanced diet later than others. While most babies will decrease their need for the extra vitamins and other nutrients provided by formula before the age of one, a few may still need them if they have a lower intake of solid foods or higher body requirements. No harm will be done by waiting a little longer.
If you are concerned that your son needs to stop drinking formula and want to make a gradual transition, I’d suggest you just wait and start the process after his birthday. There’s no need to change all at one – many babies will protest at this. You can either change one drink at a time and see how they react, or make a mix of formula and milk, gradually decreasing the amount of formula so they end up just drinking milk.
Some people are keen to change from formula to milk earlier because they are finishing off a container of formula powder and are reluctant to buy more. However I would suggest that they do buy the extra and either continue with the formula for an extra few weeks beyond the first birthday or give the extra formula to a friend.
One last suggestion: this period before making the change from formula to milk may be a good time to make the change from bottle to cup or beaker, as this is actually a more challenging transition for many children (and their parents).