How Much Milk for a 1-Year-Old

Tips for Adding Cow's Milk Into Your 1-Year-Old's Diet

Bottoms up! Your little one reaches a new milestone at age 1: the addition of milk to her diet. But how much is too much? Balancing milk with the nutrient-dense whole foods she gets at mealtime ensures she gets the goodness she needs to grow and thrive as she enters the toddler years.

When Can You Introduce Cow's Milk?

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Keep cow's milk off the menu until your little one turns 12 months old. Before age 1, he needs the nutritional makeup of formula or breast milk to meet his needs. Cow's milk is difficult for a baby's immature digestive system to process easily. It's also low in iron, vitamin C and other nutrients that your baby needs during the first year of life. After his first birthday, you can offer whole cow's milk in addition to his healthy diet. Avoid lower fat milk varieties, which don't supply your little one with enough fat for proper weight gain and brain development.

What Is the Recommended Amount of Milk?

At 1 year old, babies can safely have about 24 ounces of milk per day. If your little one drinks too much milk, it can interfere with her solid food intake and result in too many calories consumed each day. All that milk fills up her tummy, so she doesn't have room for the fruits, veggies, lean meats, grains and other healthy foods in her diet.

Too much milk can also cause an iron deficiency in your little one, since cow's milk doesn't contain much iron. Your little one needs iron for proper development and to avoid anemia. If your tot drinks more than 24 ounces of milk each day, her iron can become low. Check with her doctor if low iron is a concern.

What About Formula or Breast Milk?

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You don't have to wean your baby from breast milk or formula when you start cow's milk. Many babies drink both after turning 1. Your little one may still want to nurse after starting milk, for example. Experts recommend nursing as long as it's a positive for you and your little one. You can nurse as usual and offer milk when she eats solid foods.

Your 1-year-old may still prefer formula in certain situations. Or, your baby might resist cow's milk because it's different. Ease the transition by mixing formula with the cow's milk, gradually adding more milk than formula until he accepts milk only.

How Do You Balance Solid Foods and Milk?

It's important to balance your little one's milk intake with her nutritious diet. If she drinks so much milk that she doesn't want to eat at mealtime, cut back on her milk intake.

Around this time, offer your child three regular meals per day plus a few healthy snacks. Don't force your little one to eat if she doesn't show interest at those times, but stick to the regular schedule to establish healthy eating habits. Instead of offering a continuous cup of milk all day long, serve the milk with meals or snacks.

Your 1-year-old needs a variety of nutritious foods, including cereal, fruits, vegetables and meats. Offer plenty of foods naturally high in iron such as meat, fish and beans to balance the low iron content of milk.

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