When Can My Baby Start Drinking Cow’s Milk?

Can I give cow’s milk to the baby? This is a question young mothers ask themselves when breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Read more here about why you should not give your baby cow’s milk at first. This is not always related to a cow’s milk allergy in the baby.

Of course, you can also find out here when cow’s milk can be given to the baby without any problems.

Cow’s Milk For The Baby – Nutritious Or Harmful?

Of course, cow’s milk is only ever the third choice for a baby: after all, nature normally gives a mother everything she needs for her child. That’s why your baby will find everything it needs in breast milk. This includes nutrients, but also minerals as well as vitamins and trace elements.

All this is finely tuned to the needs of your child. But there are situations when a mother does not want to or cannot breastfeed her child. If this is only temporary, for example in unfavorable situations, you can also store your breast milk and give it to your child as needed.

Alternatively, it is best to give your child baby milk. This is a good alternative because it is as close as possible to breast milk. It is industrially produced and contains important nutrients for your child.

However, many young mothers wonder why they should not give their children cow’s milk in the beginning. Will the baby develop an allergy to cow’s milk? Or does it perhaps prevent an important developmental spurt in the baby?

Anyone who wants to give their baby cow’s milk should realize that a very small baby also has very special needs. In the following, we explain why cow’s milk cannot meet these needs: It harms the development of the baby.

What You Should Know About Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk comes from cows, that’s for sure. And regardless of whether it comes from happy pasture cows or from industrial animal husbandry, cow’s milk is always precisely tailored to the needs of calves.

Here the problem becomes clearer, because both types of milk differ in their composition. After all, a calf is quite different from a baby.

This makes the administration of cow’s milk to the baby a problem. That’s why there is breast milk for the first time: A baby needs certain ingredients, especially in this phase, so that the baby’s development is not disturbed.

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The baby’s digestive system has not yet learned to adapt to other foods. It is not for nothing that breastfeeding is considered the best thing for a newborn. But what happens if you do give your child cow’s milk regularly?

Your baby would be confronted with several problems. A baby does not always develop an allergy to cow’s milk. Nevertheless, it cannot process the ingredients before a certain age, or only with difficulty. In addition, premature and permanent administration can disturb the development of the baby.

Baby And Cow’s Milk: These Are The Problems

  • Occurrence of cow’s milk allergy in the baby.
  • Has three times as much protein as breast milk.
  • Has too little polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as iodine, zinc and iron.

This is very bad, because the development in the baby is very important for his later life. Therefore, the general rule is: cow’s milk for the baby is not suitable until the age of one year.

Cow’s Milk For Your Baby: Only Advisable From One Year Onwards

So what exactly happens if someone gives cow’s milk to the baby too early? If for some reason, usually due to ignorance, he does not wait long enough? The baby cannot digest it well. A lot can happen: from blood in the stool, which is related to an irritated intestine, to developmental disorders or diarrhea.

This is what happens when there is too much protein: the kidneys are put under too much strain. Protein that the body does not need is processed into urea. The kidneys in turn have to process this to get it out of the blood.

If there is too much of it, it damages the kidneys – this is also the case for us adults. Logically, it is even worse for a small child. In addition, too much protein leads to a greater risk of becoming overweight one day.

This happens when there is a deficiency of certain nutrients: Here, serious problems in the baby’s development are possible. It then eats enough, but certain nutrients are missing. If a child receives one-sided food or even unsuitable nutrients, we speak of malnutrition.

Unlike cow’s milk allergy in babies, the consequential damage only becomes apparent in the long term. This is what happens with cow’s milk in babies in the intestines: Here, the poorly digested lactic acids attack the intestinal walls. The mucous membranes of the intestines become so irritated that they secrete blood.

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Most children will hardly fall ill directly if they consume cow’s milk only once. An exception is cow’s milk allergy in babies – more on this below. However, if you give your child cow’s milk too early and permanently, you will damage the normal development of the baby.

It’s a different story with baby food: you can give your child cow’s milk at an early age, but it won’t affect the baby’s development. It is only important that the cow’s milk in the baby porridge does not exceed a certain amount.

How Much Cow’s Milk Is Okay?

Again and again questions arise in forums like the following: Is cow’s milk OK for a baby from 10 months? There is a simple answer to these questions. Always distinguish between pure milk, which you give your baby to drink straight, and the preparation of porridge with milk.

Milk should not appear in the porridge before the sixth month. This also applies to small amounts! If you want to give your baby cow’s milk at the age of 5 months, it is not good. Wait a little longer.

You can remember the following rule of thumb: From the age of six months, cow’s milk is allowed in your baby’s porridge, up to 200 ml daily. That is about one glass of milk.

So if you prepare porridge for your baby with this amount of cow’s milk, you are always on the safe side! This also ensures that your child is supplied with calcium, which is very important for the baby’s development. For all other meals that require milk, take either breast milk or substitute milk.

How much cow’s milk for my baby a year – is another frequently asked question. It has its just because you should give your child pure cow’s milk as a drink at the earliest from the second year of life. They can then drink one glass of milk a day with a meal.

By the way, this is also accompanied by an enormous developmental boost for the baby. It may then show less interest in food, which is later compensated for with binge eating. Don’t be put off by this – it’s a normal development in babies. It is just developing into a toddler!

Back to the topic of cow’s milk for babies: You should continue to pay attention to the quantities. Otherwise, the baby will be so full of cow’s milk that it will no longer have an appetite. It then refuses other food or eats it only inadequately. The consequence is clear: an unbalanced diet! You should avoid this even at an advanced age.

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The cow’s milk baby lacks important fiber, which your child takes with other food. In addition, an older child naturally needs a balanced diet to protect it from developmental disorders. However, this cannot be guaranteed by cow’s milk.

Which Cow’s Milk For A Baby: Raw Milk, UHT Milk Or Fresh Milk?

Except for raw milk, the types are not subject to any restrictions. This leaves it up to you to decide whether to use UHT milk or fresh milk. However, make sure that you do not give raw milk. It germinates very quickly and can be dangerous for your child.

From When To Feed Cow’s Milk To Your Baby: What Else Is Important

Please note: Because cow’s milk is so rich in nutrients, it is always a meal and not a drink. The difference: give it to your baby as a meal, or as part of one. Cow’s milk is not suitable as a thirst quencher, even for children over the age of one!

If your child is known to be at risk of allergies, ask your pediatrician whether he or she recommends giving cow’s milk at all! A child is at risk of allergies if you or your partner have an allergy or if there is already an older sibling with an allergy.

Cow’s Milk And Baby: Can Lactose Intolerance Occur?

Lactose intolerance (intolerance to milk sugar) can occur very early. It does not only occur at the age of complementary feeding, but sometimes even earlier. The proteins in cow’s milk are also a problem.

If this causes increased flatulence and diarrhea, this may be the cause. Of course, your child should be taken to a doctor who will make a definite diagnosis: Lactose intolerance or cow’s milk allergy baby?

Important: Lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy. The allergy causes your child to form antibodies and not tolerate milk at all. Rather, he or she shows an allergic reaction even to small amounts.

This can be more or less severe and can even lead to allergic shock. To reassure you: True milk allergy occurs much less frequently than lactose intolerance.

Cow’s Milk Allergy In Babies

Antibodies make life difficult for your child. It then has a milk allergy. Such a cow’s milk allergy in the baby manifests itself through the following severe symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the face
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe itching
  • Shortness of breath

These reactions occur within a very short time, a small amount of cow’s milk in the baby is already enough. If such signs of cow’s milk allergy appear in the baby, notify a doctor immediately!

Baby Milk Alternatives: Is Baby Milk Better?

Those who resort to industrially produced infant milk should know one thing about it: It often contains additives that are not good for your child. In the best case, your child doesn’t need them, in the worst case, they impair the development of your child.

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Normally, a balanced diet contains everything your child needs. If you give him additional baby milk with a plus of iron or iodine, it can lead to an oversupply. This milk also often contains too much sweetener.

When Should You Start Giving Your Baby Cow’s Milk? What Do Experts Recommend?

However, you should not completely abandon cow’s milk for your baby. If you follow the recommendations given here, a little cow’s milk is even beneficial from a certain age: According to new findings, those who anxiously avoid any contact with it for their child are even more likely to increase the risk of allergies.

So if you avoid cow’s milk for your baby even when the child is actually already able to digest it well, you are not doing him or her any favors. In doing so, you are also not providing increased protection against the baby’s cow’s milk allergy.

Rather, you are depriving him of the opportunity to learn how to deal with it adequately. This is important for avoiding allergies: Your child should learn about allergens such as cow’s milk in the first year of life.

Then he or she can demonstrably cope better with them later on. Since 2009, this recommendation has been part of the S3 guideline, which serves to prevent allergies.


Because cows’ milk is not yet well tolerated by babies, it should only be included in the diet from a certain age. The reason lies in its composition. As nutritious as milk is, it has a few too many nutrients, and others too few.

This can lead to disturbances in the baby’s development. Slightly larger children, on the other hand, can digest milk better. From possible kidney damage to weight problems to maldevelopment: If you give your baby cow’s milk too early, it is demonstrably bad.

Breast milk is still the best food for very young babies. If breastfeeding doesn’t work for any reason, it’s better to give the baby substitute milk instead of cow’s milk. From the age of six months at the earliest, you can then mix a little cow’s milk into the baby’s porridge every day.

As a separate drink, your child should only be given cow’s milk from the age of one. However, never let it be a pure thirst quencher, it is too nutritious for that! Also, watch out for signs of a possible cow’s milk allergy in the baby.

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