If you’re eager to bypass the expense of the formula aisle, not to mention the nuisance of mixing formula, you can start doing the happy dance when your formula-guzzler reaches the 1-year mark. Around this time, breast-milk, formula or whole milk should take less precedence in your toddler’s diet as he branches out and starts eating a wider variety of solid foods. Limit milk intake to no more than 32 ounces per day after you make the switch, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises.
Why Switch to Whole Milk
Formula manufacturers have endeavored to keep you tethered to the formula aisle a little while longer by introducing toddler formulas, but there aren’t any compelling reasons to purchase the costlier products instead of switching to whole milk after 1 year. Stick to whole milk, though, not low-fat. Your toddler’s brain needs the fats in whole milk for healthy development. After age 2, you can switch to low-fat milk. If your not-so-little guy is overweight or you have a family history of obesity, your pediatrician might recommend 2 percent milk, but don’t make this decision on your own without discussing it with the pediatrician first.
When to Switch
By the time your toddler hits the 1-year mark, his digestive system can generally handle the harder-to-digest proteins in milk. Before that time, milk can irritate the intestines, causing minute amounts of intestinal bleeding that can lead to anemia, or low iron stores. Cow’s milk also doesn’t contain all the nutrients your toddler needs before age 1. Waiting longer to introduce milk into his diet can increase his risk of developing a milk allergy or eczema, a skin reaction that often occurs in allergic kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
About 300,000 U.S. toddlers have a milk allergy, but opinions differ on when most will outgrow it, with experts such as MayoClinic.com stating that most kids outgrow it by age 3 and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology stating that 80 percent outgrow it by age 16. Signs of milk allergy include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, rash, hives, wheezing or difficulty breathing. If your toddler develops any symptoms of allergy after starting whole milk, talk to your pediatrician about allergy testing before giving him milk again.
Making the Switch
When it’s time to make the switch from formula to whole milk, make it gradually, during a period of a few days, so Mr. Discrimination doesn’t balk at the change in flavors. Start with a 1/4 milk to 3/4 formula mix, then increase the amount of milk gradually. If you’re eager to get rid of bottles altogether and your toddler is eager to start drinking like the rest of the family, put the formula-milk mix in a sippy cup rather than a bottle. He might not balk about the taste change as much if the milk comes in an entirely different vessel.