Milk, such a benign subject yet one that often causes consternation for many parents as they begin to introduce solid foods to their little ones. When to introduce milk to your baby can be a very confusing issue indeed. This confusion arises when many pediatricians will simply tell you “No dairy for your baby until he/she is 12 months old”. If you don’t ask for more specific information, you may leave your appointment thinking that your baby cannot have dairy, of any type at all, before 12 months of age.
And then, one day, you see your friend’s baby eating yogurt and you wonder on earth that baby would be eating yogurt when the pediatrician said no dairy!?
The main reason that pediatricians don’t want babies to be introduced to milk earlier than 12 months old (and some will give the “ok” around 10 months of age) is that milk by itself does not contain all the nutrients of breast milk or formula. It should not be used as a “drink” or substitute until after 1 year of age. Milk is also thought to hinder the absorption of iron. Iron is crucial for baby’s growth and we don’t anything in the diet to muck up the absorption of that iron. Milk is also more difficult for a tiny tummy to digest than breast milk or infant formula.
Here’s the good news – delaying the introduction of milk does not necessarily mean that you need to avoid it in cooking; nor does it mean that you may have to avoid all dairy based products. Yogurt is sometimes recommended as a first food (not necessarily THE first food) and cheeses typically get the green light around 8 months of age.
Cooking with milk is usually fine for babies who are around 8 months of age. When milk is included in a baked good recipe or even in an oatmeal porridge for example, the cooking process will help to break down the milk proteins. This means that tiny tummies should have an easier time with digestion. Also, including milk in a baked good recipe, like offering yogurt and cheese, does not leave your baby at risk of milk actually replacing baby’s formula/breast milk intake.
The only thing that you need to be aware of when introducing dairy of any kind is your family’s history of dairy allergies. If there are dairy allergies in your family, you may want to wait to introduce dairy of any kind. Of course you always must consult your pediatrician about introducing new foods to your baby, especially when introducing potential allergenic foods.
These adorable Highland Cows are from the Autumn Mist Farm in Maine, USA. Having been to Scotland a few times, I just fell in love with these cows. For information about the Highland Cows, you can visit the farm’s website
Autumn Mist Farm
902 Milo Road
Sebec, ME 04481-3244