Congratulations! Your little one is turning 1 and it is time for transitioning from formula to milk.
Such a great milestone that comes with all sorts of new skills and foods. Not only are they walking or getting closer to walking but now comes a big change with introducing milk to their diet.
When to Transition from Formula to Milk
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to wait to start the transition to whole milk at the age of 1-year-old. This is due to the lack of iron in cow’s milk and allergies.
It is also recommended to use whole milk up until age 2 and then wean to 2% or non-fat milk.
How much Milk
The recommended amounts from the AAP are as follows:
1-year-old – 8 – 12 oz per day (this includes yogurt and cheese)
2-year-old – 16 oz per day (this includes yogurt and cheese)
No more than 32 oz is recommended for any children. At that point they would be obtaining too much of their recommended daily allowance of dairy. This can also prevent them from wanting to eat solid foods.
I had this problem with my boys. They loved their milk. They would have loved to drink milk all day but I had to learn to limit it or they wouldn’t eat any solid foods.
If you are still on formula and you wonder how much to be feeding your baby check out my post on Bottle Feeding 101: How much to feed your baby. It has a great chart.
Alternatives to Cow’s Milk
- Almond Milk
- Soy Milk
- Goat’s Milk
My youngest was allergic to dairy. We used Almond milk for her. But eventually she stopped wanting almond milk as well. Our doctor recommended that we give her calcium-fortified orange juice once a day and water the rest of the time. We made up for the calcium and vitamin D in other foods. Yes, other solid foods have calcium and vitamin D as well. Examples are tuna, salmon, egg yolks, fortified cereals, etc.
5 Tips for Transitioning from Formula to Milk
- Start with adding a little milk to their formula or a bottle of breast milk. If you have a picky baby just start with a teaspoon. If your little one is easy-going maybe try an ounce at a time.
- Make sure to warm the milk to the same temperature they are used to drinking the formula or breast milk.
- Add just a little more milk to the formula every day until they get used to the taste of regular milk. Sometimes this is a 2 steps forward, 1 step back process. If they balk at the new taste then go back to a smaller percentage of milk.
- If your child doesn’t take bottles you can just offer it in a sippy cup with one meal a day. You can see if they prefer it to be warm, room temperature or can just take it cold.
- If you have to, you can start to bribe them with their favorite part of each meal. My daughter loved her fruit. I would tell her she could eat one bite of fruit after each sip of her formula/milk combination. We made it into a fun game.
Each kid is different. My boys did the process within 2 weeks but my daughter was difficult. This was when we found out for sure that she was allergic to milk. Think lots of runny messy diapers and fussy baby, plus 2 parents at odds of what to do. I’ll write more on that process in the future, it was not fun.
If you see runny diapers, fussiness, rashes, etc then contact your pediatrician.
It really does seem like a daunting task when trying to change the one food your baby has survived on for their entire life. I think slow and steady is the way to go.
Don’t rush. I promise it will happen before they are in Kindergarten. 🙂
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Robin rue says
These are really helpful tips. I exclusively formula fed, so I never realized that there was a process switching them over.
The orange juice recommendation from your doctor is really good – both of my daughters are sensitive to dairy and it was difficult to make sure they were getting everything they needed without too much soy (our family is 99% hashimotos so soy wasn’t the best choice for us). Still, transitioning them on/off anything is always a tedious process – good tips for mamas looking to do that now.
I was nervous about too much soy as well even without the hashimotos. It has as much calcium and vitamin D as milk if you get the fortified OJ. We definitely monitored the amount but it worked well for us.
I have so many mommy friends who often ask each other these types of questions. I am never any help (not being a mom) so I will share your post with them as it will be very helpful!
Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh says
Great tips! We diluted formula with milk, but luckily my girls had no trouble, and loved milk.
This is so important. Thank you for being so specific!
I had a hard time transitioning as I was a long time nursing mom. I nursed exclusively for 3 years with my kids, so they never really ever went to milk. To this day, all of my kids barely drink milk.
I used to think it was a necessity but it really isn’t. I am glad there are other options.
Terri Steffes says
I was trying to remember doing this with my daughter, and I don’t remember this process. I find that interesting that whatever we did, we just did it. She likes milk to this day!
Blythe Alpern says
Very helpful tips. I know the transition from breast milk to milk can be a challenge so it’s great to have these in your back pocket to makes things go smoothly.
Blythe Alpern says
Very helpful tips. Making the milk transition can be a challenge. It’s great to have these in your back pocket should you need some extra help.
Katherine McDermott says
This is so helpful! I see how this could be a huge struggle for babies to get used to. A lot of people grow up sensitive to milk, and this could explain why.
Jessi Joachim says
These are awesome tips. I never used formula, but the transition from breast milk to milk can be a pain as well and many of these would work in that instance as well. We always liked Almond milk, it was my daughter’s favorite at that age.
We used almond milk for a while too. If I ran out of regular milk I used it in my cereal too and it was yummy.
I am a nanny and these are great tips. The kid I babysat never had formula but I’m sure it’s hard for little ones to get used to the switch
Brilliant post – especially for young first time moms who can really struggle when it comes to these topics. Thank you for sharing, will definitely help so many! x
Angie Rose says
These are wonderful tips!My friend has a little one, and I will make sure to share this with her. I love almond milk as an alternative. Seriously so helpful 🙂
I know new moms are always looking for information like this. What a great idea to offer advice with transitioning. You are right. It will happen before kindergarten.
I lucked out that my son was very co-operative during any kind of transition. Honestly i went back and forth between the two and he never gave me any trouble.
That’s awesome! My boys were easier than my daughter for sure.
Reesa Lewandowski says
I remember being so concerned I was doing things right with this stage. My son was allergic to cow’s milk and there were so little options at that time for him.
You don’t even realize until you get that diagnosis how much dairy is in all prepared foods.
These are great tips for new mamas! My nephew went from breast milk to almond milk and loves it!
My LO is breastfed but I still find these very great tips! I can’t remember transitioning with my others so its always good to have a little reminder!
Funny how fast all the little things we stress about as parents of new babies and then a few years later we can’t remember any of it.
Nikki Arnold says
These are some good ideas for transitioning. I didn’t ever really understand though the reason for 2% milk because I still give my kids whole milk and I drink whole milk myself.
We still do whole milk for my boys too. I will only switch if I think they need to cut back on calories/fat but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Amber Nelson says
This was always hard for me to figure out. These are great tips. I never thought of almond milk.
Great tips for making the transition from formula to milk! Thankfully both of my boys handled the change rather easily.
Aish Das-Padihari says
Definitely great tips. I’m a parent of two boys and I do need these tips. Thanks for sharing this post with us. Enjoyed reading.
Please do not recommend parents feed their children almond milk. Pediatricians do not recommend almond milk as an alternative to cows milk as it does not have enough fat in the milk that children need for brain development. Parents coming here for a resource might not know this – please update!