What’s The Deal with Cow Milk at 12 mos, Anyway?

This post has been moved to our new site, MommaArts …. come see us there and click here for the article!!

Badge (1)


  One thought on “What’s The Deal with Cow Milk at 12 mos, Anyway?

  1. October 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Deirdre, Fabulous post. I couldn’t agree with you more! Now that I am on baby #4, I’m finally figuring this milk thing out. I always nurse my babies til 2 or later and yet I completely fall into the cow milk trap. Dumb. Baby 4 is 14 months, nursing 2 or 3 times a day, and thoroughly enjoying his water in a sippy cup. No cow milk needed. Enough with the misinformation! I will share this article widely!

    • October 7, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Thanks, Erin! Glad it’s shed some light. I too struggled with my 1st (I have 3) too. It can all be so overwhelming!

  2. October 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    My daughter nursed until she was two, and has been on Hemp milk since. She is allergic to dairy, and she gets pleanty of fat and calcium without drinking dairy. Once I discovered she was allergic to dairy as well as many other things, I cut them out my diet as well. I have had us both tested to make sure we weren’t lacking any nutrients and we are as healthy as can be!!

  3. Tracy
    October 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Fantastic post all the way through, but you totally win for finishing up a discussion of cow’s (a ruminant) milk by reminding us “to ruminate on” your points! 🙂

    • acgummad
      October 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      I caught this, too, Tracy and enjoyed quite the giggle. 🙂

      • October 7, 2011 at 9:22 pm

        Me, too! Left me giggling… 🙂

  4. steph b
    October 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    awesome timing. i have actually been struggling with this in the past few weeks. my son’s pediatrician said to start him on cow’s milk, 2-3 cups a day, even though i told him i was still nursing him no less than 5 times a day. (he’s a night-nurser and wakes every 2 hours to eat, even though he just turned 1) i didn’t feel it was necessary and haven’t been pushing the cow’s milk. he tried it, snubbed it, and that was it. i’ll try it again in a few months or so if he has cut back on the nursing, but i am so glad i trusted my gut, and now have this to back me up.

  5. Sondra Aresty
    October 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Any input for working mothers who would like to hang up the pump? I still want to breastfeed as much as possible and I feel funny about supplementing my milk with cow’s milk. I’d continue pumping but as you can imagine it’s gotten quite old after a year (well it will be a year in two weeks!). Thanks for any advice!

    • sam's mommy
      October 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      Sondra, the best thing my La Leche leader has said to me when I considered weaning my daughter at a year (I didn’t by the way) was that she’s never known anyone who said they wished they’d nursed for a shorter period of time…everyone wished they’d done it longer. I know it’s tiring but try to keep going…if nothing else, cut back to just a couple pumping sessions a day and breastfeed directly in the morning, after work, and night time which will cut back on the need to pump. It’s such a short time in your life and your child’s but the impact lasts a lifetime. Don’t give up! You can do it!!! 🙂

    • acgummad
      October 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      Oh, I second this one! I’m done pumping when my LO is a year (one more month). Would love some advice on the upcoming transitional period!

      • Stephanie
        October 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm

        Disclaimer, I would only recommend this for a baby who doesn’t take a bottle and has moved to all table food meals and snacks as I believe in child led weaning/ food introduction etc. My daughter likes nursing but LOVES immitating her brother and that includes eating lots of table foods. She actually started begging for table food around six months. Because I knew my daughter was getting a healthy diet of solids at one year and had stopped taking bottles, I just gradually decreased my pumping sesssions while I was at work until I didn’t pump at all. When I’m not around, she just drinks water or organic whole cows milk or almond milk with her meals/snacks. That said, of course my milk supply decreased somewhat but I nurse her before I leave for work, as soon as I get home (more of a quick snuggle/ “nice to see ya”) and then again at bedtime. I have maintained a lowish milk supply doing this for several months even though I am pregnant. Good luck to you and remember, if your milk supply tanks, you can always just add in pumping sesssions at work or at home.

  6. October 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for this post – I’m coming up on a year and was really confused about the whole issue. She loves water out of her water bottle (with a straw) so I’ll just keep going with that when she wants something else to drink. Thanks again!

  7. elleandsam
    October 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for this post, great information. I often get asked when I’ll wean my 8month old onto formula, and when I say I’m not going to I get told “but he needs cow’s milk at 1yo.”

    • Fiona
      October 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      I think people just totally misread the “don’t give them cow’s milk *until* 12 months” as “give them cow’s milk *at* 12 months”.

      I must be lucky – no-one’s asked/told me this with either of mine (though I have been asked whether they drink cow’s milk, but I think the question’s different).

  8. October 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Glad I stumbled onto your article. My daughter is 14 months, and I’ve been curious about if and when the transition occurs. She is still breastfed, we’re just trying to wean away from bottles and move the mommy milk to a cup (I work part-time). This will provide good info for when the questions start coming from family and/or friends. Thanks!

  9. sam's mommy
    October 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I’m lucky…my pediatrician told me there was no need to give my daughter cow’s milk at a year but that if she wanted it, now was the “safe” time for allergy purposes. He also said not to give her more than one small cup a day since she was still breastfeeding 2-3 times a day. My whole family loves cows milk and my daughter naturally wanted to try it…she loved it. She gets a small 2-4oz cup of milk once a day, but otherwise gets her proteins and fats from other areas as mentioned above. She self weaned at 15 months because of a subsequent pregnancy turning my milk to straight colostrum at about 7 months. She is now 19 months and perfectly happy with juicy thighs and chubby cheeks with only one tiny cup of milk a day. I’m not against giving cows milk, but I do agree it’s not necessary at all, and with all the other stuff you said. 😉

  10. Julia
    October 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I’m happy about the philosophy, but struggle with the implementation. I am a working mother of an 8 month old, and I need to pump at work. I am not going to be able to pump more than the 12 months that my company will allow for…What do I do during the day? Offer only water with solids? I will continue to nurse in the AM and PM on demand as long as she wants.

    • RKT
      October 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      I introduced cow’s milk at a year for when I was away from older DD but not to replace nursing at home. As she got a little older, she began to ask for it, even though she didn’t wean until 3. She also ate a lot of yogurt and cheese. Younger DD I pumped longer (initial introduction to cow’s milk seemed to irritate her stomach, so pumped until 15 months). She still isn’t into milk–she’ll actually ask for it but then won’t drink it. We send water to daycare now because the milk (whether in a bottle or a sippy cup) wouldn’t get drunk. She eats lots of yogurt and cheese, and still nurses a lot at 20 months. When I got away overnight, I pump 1-2x a day to keep up supply and to stop from feeling full, but I can usually go about 36 hours without nursing or pumping.

  11. October 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    This is very interesting. I am approaching our 9 month check up and have TONS of questions about weaning, cows milk, solid foods, etc. Basically, I don’t really want to completely wean at 12 months but I don’t want him to rely on me anymore for that nutrition. We plan on going on our delayed honey moon when he is partially weaned and I am waiting to schedule that when I can leave him for a week without worrying about needing to pump all day. I might pump once a day to keep some sort of supply up and prevent engorgement. If I come back in a week and he still wants to nurse, I will let him as long as I still have milk but if he doesn’t ask, I won’t offer. I am just not entirely sure how to do this and I don’t know if that means I need to start him on cows milk as soon as he turns 1 or not.

  12. Margie
    October 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly! Our children have ONE chance to get the most nutritious food of their lives from us, and it’s our jobs as mothers to make the commitment to give them breastmilk as long as we can. Plus, from a physiological level, the protein found in cow’s milk is HUGE and very difficult for a child’s (and adult’s) system to digest. 80% of your immune system lives in your digestive system, so why mess with it and give it garbage that it can’t digest. Everything else can wait – keep on nursing! 🙂

  13. Jessica
    October 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I went on WIC when my daughter was roughly one year, and we hadn’t made the transition from breast to cow’s milk. I was told by the dietitian that I HAD to give her at least 2 oz. cow’s milk daily in order for her to be healthy. My doctor disagreed, especially since she was getting plenty of milk from me. I believe she was nursing a good 6-8 times daily. It baffles me the misguidance women receive from people they are supposed to trust, all because we’ve been brought up on the basis of formula feeding being the norm in our country. Now no one knows what to think when they encounter a healthy breastfed toddler!

  14. October 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    In my case baby #4 was only 7.5 months old when I found myself pregnant again (on demand/ecological bfing if a ymmv sort of thing!) I did my best to keep my supply up, but it was obvious by 12m/5mo pregnant that there was not much there. Though he still “nursed” several times a day, he always asked for and drained a cup of water at the end of each session! I added 1 cup of whole, organic, grassfed, non-homoginized, milk to his diet each day, and a serving of similarly derived yogurt and cheese too. It has been my goal to maintain the nursing reationship, despite the lack of “goods”, in the hopes that he will continue nursing thru to his second or third year like my other kiddos, after this babe arrives in the next month or so. He is thriving nutritionally, and still is nursing 5ish times a day.

  15. Jen
    October 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you! My son stopped taking a bottle at 12 months of anything! He will only drink water from a sippy cup. I still nurse when I’m with him but was worried about whether he was getting enough while I was at work. 2-3 times in 24 hours is a great piece of information.

  16. October 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you for this excellent post- I’m sharing!

    Breastfed: A breastfeeding blog for the modern mama.

  17. jo
    October 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I always found it ironic that most people and institutions are adamant a child start drinking cows milk at 12 months and are also equally adamant that they should stop nursing. If a baby needs that milk for nutritional value than why push weaning. It seems like a no brainer, baby needs milk still then keep on nursing if you already are.

  18. wendic22we
    October 8, 2011 at 12:58 am

    I have a different experience. My son has allergies but we do goat milk kefir. My son was waking at least 2 times a night to nurse and it got so bad that in the day he wanted to nurse every 20 min a lot more than not. It was really hard for me. at 14 months I added some in as well as nursed and he gained weight and slept through the night! I knew he wasn’t getting enough. I totally agree that the milk is pushed a lot and its not needed as much as most believe though I do think some is not a bad thing. But in this case and my son’s allergies/eating I am glad I gave him milk to help his growing body.

  19. October 24, 2011 at 3:17 am

    I have never seen cow’s milk as a replacement to breast milk. Both my children have started drinking cow’s milk at around the 1 year mark. Yet, I still breast feed my 27 month old a couple of times a day. I see cow’s milk just like any other food, not a replacement of breastmilk. I also don’t think they NEED it if they have an adequate diet and especially not if they are still breast fed. BUT, I DO think it is a worthy addition to their diet, as long as it is the good stuff.
    I certainly don’t believe it is in any way better for them than breastmilk. Not even close to being as good.

  20. Georgie
    October 31, 2011 at 6:36 am

    I came across this strand whilst looking, a little desperately, for sound, like-minded advice on something else; something related, but what at least feels like a more specific, less talked about issue.. not that I’m special 🙂 i have a happy, relaxed & thoroughly well-nourished gorgeous 13MO daughter whom I’ve breastfed on demand since birth. Since then I’ve had just one crisis of feeding/ weaning confidence just pre-one year mark which, with hindsight, was because i was sick & exhausted & struggling with sleep & supply. Never once was it to do with questioning the principle or justification of sustained breastfeeding, just a personal meltdown which prompted thoughts of stopping. Now I’m in a different situation: my bf mojo is back (hurrah!), but I’m trying to conceive a second time & been advised that (based on previous struggles with hormone levels) this is so unlikely to happen for me whilst still breastfeeding. AT ALL. My oestrogen levels have always needed all the help they can get! So long story short: 1) has anyone else out there been in a similar situation, where dropping then stopping feeds is entirely motivated by the need to start ovulating again and 2) how to make this transition, at the 13mo stage, where i’ve no desire to ‘substitute in’ formula or cow’s milk (she has a very healthy, balanced solids diet) but more about the gentlest way to replace those 2 key feeds a day (first thing & last thing) with a similarly special rhythm and, if necessary, the best nutritional replacement too. I hope this makes sense – as you can possibly tell, this is the first time since her birth when an answer or ‘solution’ – the natural path – hasn’t come to me instinctively so would be so grateful for supportive comments & insight. Thanks so much..

  21. Denise
    February 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Hi. I found this article right as I am at a crossroads with my newly turned one year old. He is still nursing 8 or more times per day (this includes all night too) and I did not think I had a milk supply issue, but then he stopped gaining much weight and now he is down to the 5%. I am concerned that he isn’t getting enough now, and while I had originally planned to nurse him until natural weaning I find myself anxious to get him off the breast and onto cows milk in a sippy. I have tried everything else, I put massive amounts of food in front of him (he won’t let me approach him with a spoon at all) and he is eating things like avocado, cheese, yogurt, etc. He just started walking too, so I know that could have something to do with it, but my pediatrician worries me and talks about my milk supply must be low if he isn’t gaining. (I take fenugreek 3 pills 3x per day and drink lots of water, and eat enough calories, eat oatmeal, etc). He refuses any milk in a cup (never took a bottle ever) and if I give him water or juice I have to prove to him it isn’t milk by giving him a drink of it without the lid on otherwise he will not even take drink 1. I can’t pump much either but I know that is not a true testament of the amount of milk you make. But I am just done worrying about it. I need to be able to breathe and not be worried about my baby getting enough so here we are. Any suggestions on maybe pain free weaning? The whole process feels mean to me. One thing I should mention is that he will not drink breast milk from a cup either (spits it out like it tastes bad) and I try and try but cant pump more than like an oz. (I have a Medela PIS so it is a good pump I also have the Hygea Enjoye which is also an awesome pump so it is not my pump). Suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

  22. guest
    May 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you for writing this. Might I suggest that you consider referring to it as “human milk” rather than “breast milk.” After all, we don’t call milk from a cow “udder milk.” LOL!

  23. Kim Steffen
    July 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Hello! I just stumbled upon your article and it came at the exact right time. I just returned from the doc’s office after taking my one year old in for his 1 year well baby check. I was dumbfounded by the literature I received from the doctor – I quote “Now is the time to switch from formula/breast milk to whole milk. Infants need about 20 oz. per day of whole milk (instead of low-fat or skim) until they are 2 years old.” I can’t believe that I am reading this. I am glad that I found your article because it backs up my belief that he doesn’t need cows milk. Breast milk is better!!! I will happily continue to nurse him and not feel bad for not giving him whole milk because he doesn’t need it!

  24. Sasha
    November 16, 2012 at 6:32 am

    I was told that the reason is because babies need extra vitamin d only between the ages of one and two and from two on they can drink 1 or 2%.I was also told that breastmilk and formula at this age do not contain enough vitamin d for healthy brain development on their own.Know anything about this argument?

    • February 9, 2013 at 2:36 am

      Highly unlikely since 90% vitamin D requirements are supposed to come from sunlight, not the diet. :/

  25. Sasha
    November 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Also it is a fact that vitamin D does not pass through breastmilk, right?

  26. Anne H.
    November 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Great article! I’m curious as to your opinion. My daughter nurses when I am around, but I work 5 hours a day from the office. My supply has recently dropped (due to a new pregnancy) and I am not able to pump enough for the time when I am not home. She seems attached to a bottle of milk for her nap. We have started to supplement with formula during the time when I am at work (about 4-6oz). However, at a year, is it best to keep the 1 bottle of formula, or is that a good time to transition to a cows milk or almond milk?

  27. salwa
    May 23, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Hi, I am Salwa. My son is 1 y old next week and I am 4 months pregnant and I am still nursing him. My question is what should I do if I want to wean my first born after he turns 1y. Should I give him cows milk after he is 1 and stop breastfeeding him or I just give him water and nutritious diverse food? What do you suggest? Thanks.

  28. August 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you for some other informative blog. The place else could I get that kind of information written
    in such an ideal method? I have a undertaking that I am simply now running on,
    and I have been at the look out for such info.

  29. Jenny Hunt
    October 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I, like many of the other women who have commented, was told the same thing by my pediatrician…stop nursing to get her to sleep and start on whole cow’s milk, three to four cups per day. What?! Why would milk from a cow be better than mine…her mother, her own species?!

    Right now, my daughter (14 months) is going through a transitional phase where she likes food sometimes, and then other times she won’t eat and only wants the boobie. I’m sure all this is just as emotional for her as it is for me…even if it is more subconscious for her. We’re figuring it out together, but it is a little heartbreaking knowing that her nursing has dwindled down to 5 to 6 times per day (she mostly just nurses in the morning, at naps, at bedtime, and a couple times during the night).

    I had been concerned lately about whether or not she’s getting enough calories because I am starting to produce less milk with her fewer nursing sessions. So, I tried the cow’s milk thing, and she refused (refuses) to drink it. I’m going to follow your advice and try almond milk and hemp milk (we already do water). I think she’s getting enough calories per day from my breast milk and the solids she picks through. I might start pumping once a day to vamp up my milk production a little, though, because it doesn’t seem that she has gotten enough milk at bedtime the last few nights (she cries and continues to suck but the milk is all gone =(.

    That reminds me. I just got my period back (this is the second one), and I seem to produce less milk the week of my period. Does that sound crazy or has anyone else experienced this?

    Anyway, thanks so much. It’s people like you who keep us moms from getting caught in the pediatrician traps. We mothers just have to rely on each other and trust our instincts!

    Best regards,
    Jenny Hunt

  30. May 8, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Amen! My son, whom I nursed till age 2 did not have cow milk then or afterwards, except a trickle here and there. I searched this topic because my baby just turned 9 months & is on an awful nursing strike. I’m wondering what I’m going to do if I have to surrender giving her breast milk at 12 m from pumping burnout. Sounds like you think other dairy products are acceptable in moderation, especially as a good source of fat and protein?

    I don’t like how hard it is to find alternative plant milks without added sugar and weird thickeners.

  31. vmb
    July 23, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I am nursing my 18 month old – She will only accept liquid from the boob. No cup, no sippy and no bottle. I agree that human milk is best for baby as long as we can make it available for them. For all the mamas out there, who work, who want another baby, whose bodies need a break for whatever reason, I hear you. “Please kiddo, a few sips from a cup won’t kill you”

    I firmly believe that mamas should do the best they can, as long as they can. And the more information out there, the better. While it is available, mother’s milk is best – nutritionally, developmentally, immunologically. No question, no argument. Biologically speaking, the fact that many humans are lactose tolerant and CAN therefore drink dairy into adulthood (yes, I know not everyone is) is a relatively recent genetic mutation that confers a sufficient survival advantage that evolution has selected FOR it.


    How do I use these facts for myself and my child ? Simple – I will continue to nurse my child as long as I can. When I can’t (those of you who pump – I know your pain), I will not feel guilty about giving my child a safe milk of another species. After all, many of us consume chicken eggs, flesh of other animals, insect honey, etc.

    I’m so very glad there is information out there on extended breastfeeding (not sure I would have done it otherwise), but please lets not bully or guilt-trip. This job is hard enough as is.

  32. FEB
    July 28, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I am pleased with the info that I have found that supports my gut feeling about kids not “needing milk.”

    What a neat find, vmb. Thanks for sharing. And thank you for your words. I have pumped like a champ for the past 7 mos when I returned to work. My daughter is turning 1 next week and I will return to work after vacation. At this point, I have to feel okay about not resuming pumping when I head back to work. Let’s face it. There are millions of kids out there, actually thriving, who were entirely formula fed (for whatever the reason either by choice or necessity). The human body is extremely resilient. So we do the best we can, and then also make sure that we spend as much time considering what we offer them spiritually and morally as we do physically. Ultimately, they will all be teenagers who eat fast food despite all of our efforts. LOL!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: