Feeding Milk to Baby

Milk offers an abundance of calcium, but it's also high in salt. We tell you whether it really does a body good.

Milk is the classic kid beverage, but it's also the food that seems to cause the most confusion for parents. You hear concerns about its high fat content, and then milk is praised for its calcium. What's best for your baby?

Because of its high salt and low iron content, doctors generally don't recommend cow's milk until a baby's first birthday. Until then, breast milk or formula is best. In fact, cow's milk can cause mild intestinal bleeding in some babies under 1 year old. By 12 months, your child can probably go right from the breast or the bottle to cow's milk in a cup (consult your pediatrician first).

For now, steer clear of skim and other low-fat milks, however: They contain too much protein and sodium and not enough fat and calories to ensure proper brain and nervous system development. Once your child's body no longer needs such a high amount of fat, after age 2, speak with your pediatrician about switching to 1 or 2 percent milk. Meanwhile, if the other members of your family drink low-fat milk, it may be more convenient for you to buy cans of evaporated whole milk for the baby and dilute it 1-to-1 with water.

Between 1 and 2 percent of children under age 3 are allergic to the proteins in milk. Symptoms may include a rash, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you notice such symptoms in your baby, consult with your pediatrician immediately.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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