how to transition toddlers to cow's milk

How to Transition Toddlers To Cow’s Milk

Welcome to The Mummylogues. A series dedicated to candid conversations, relatable tips and resources for navigating pregnancy and parenting. In this edition, Nutrition Consultant for babies and toddlers, Sanchita Daswani discusses how to slowly and steadily transition toddlers from breast-milk/ formula to cow’s milk.

How to Transition Toddlers To Cow’s Milk

How to make the switch?

In the first year of life, breastmilk/formula is the main source of nutrition and keeps a baby well hydrated. Cow’s milk should be completely avoided up till the age of one as the protein is too difficult for their little tummies to digest.

At around eleven months start offering breastmilk/formula in an open cup or straw cup. You can practice this with one feed at a time and just one ounce at time. When you baby turns one, start replacing formula/ breastmilk by one ounce every few days with cow’s milk until accepted.

What kind of milk should toddlers have?

Cow’s milk should be introduced after 12 months of age and should be organic, grass-fed, and should not have A-1 casein. Other options would be sheep, buffalo, or goat’s milk (all of which are also a power-house of nutrients).

What’s the hype about A-2 milk?

A-2 casein is the main protein in cow’s milk, constituting around 30% of the total protein.

A-1 casein is a the result of a mutation that occurred during breeding a long time ago. Over time, cows that produce A-1 casein became very popular as as they produced more milk and much faster. However, A-1 casein is very difficult for humans to digest and has in large contributed to the increased cases of lactose-intolerance. In many cases those who perceive themselves to be lactose intolerant are in fact, just not able to digest A-1 casein which has a different formulation when it comes to the amino acid chain. In case you were wondering, human milk also also contains A-2 casein but doesn’t contain A1.

Some cow breeds that produce A-1 milk are Holstein, British Shorthorn, and Ayrshire. Holstein breed is the most common cow in Canada, USA, Australia, and Northern Europe. Cow breeds that produce A-2 milk are Asian, Guernsey, Limousin, Brown Swiss, Normandes, and Jersey and most cows in Asia, Southern Europe, and Africa.

How much do they need if you decide to offer cow’s milk?

After turning one, toddlers only need 3 servings of dairy a day and up to a maximum of 16 ounces of milk. So, if for instance, they are having cheese and yogurt as part of their daily diet, they will only need around 150 ml of milk a day. The reasoning is that post one year, solids ( food ) should be the primary source of nutrition. If you give a toddler too much milk, this can actually reduce their meal intake and can also lead to the body not being able to absorb iron.

How do you build up tolerance?

If your baby is not one yet, Sanchita recommends a dairy ladder to help them build up tolerance to cow’s milk by 12 months.

how to transition toddlers to cow's milk

Do toddlers need cow’s milk?

The short answer is that toddlers do not need cow’s milk.

Yes – raw organic A-2 cow’s milk is recommended as a superfood, not least as it has a lot of the nutrients a toddler needs. However, unfortunately, today the milk we get is not fresh and highly pasteurised, a process which not only kills the good bacteria along with the bad; and often (due to mass production) contains A-1 protein that humans can’t digest.

If you can get fresh cow’s milk from a local farm, you can and should include it in your child’s diet as a complimentary super food alongside their meals. If you aren’t able to source that or if your child doesn’t take to milk as easily, you can also provide adequate calcium, protein and other key nutrients to your toddler through other superfoods such as sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds and ragi. Watch this space for a calcium-rich recipe for sesame fudge coming soon!

About Sanchita Daswani

Sanchita Daswani is a Nutrition Consultant for Babies and Toddlers who focuses on guiding and empowering parents to confidently offer meals to their kids. She focuses on helping parents introduce solids to babies, creating balanced meal plans for toddlers and helping parents create a positive and successful mealtime environment.

Telephone: +852 9125 9533 | E-mail: | Website: | Instagram: @sanchitadaswani.

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