I’ve been feeding my baby iron-fortified formula. When is it okay to switch to whole cow’s milk? Research comparing cow’s milk and formula-fed infants during the first year of life has shown that cow’s milk is irritating to the intestines of a tiny infant, causing infants to lose a tiny bit of blood in their stools, contributing to iron deficiency anemia. There is very little iron in cow’s milk anyway, and the iron that is there is poorly absorbed. Concern about iron-deficiency anemia has led the American Academy of Pediatrics, backed by solid research, to discourage the use of cow’s milk in children under one year of age. One of America’s top pediatric hematologists (blood specialist), the late Dr. Frank Oski , Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkin University (and co-author of a book entitled: Don’t Drink Your Milk) advised parents to be cautious and not rush into the use of cow’s milk, even during the second year of life. At present it would seem prudent to continue giving your baby iron-fortified formula during the second year of life and very gradually wean him to dairy products, beginning with yogurt. If your toddler generally has a balanced diet and routine hemoglobin tests show that he is not even close to being anemic, then switch from formula to whole milk sometime during the second year, but don’t be in a hurry.
• no cow’s milk before age one
• whole milk until two
• nonfat or low-fat milk after two