The key to the harmonious mental and physical development of a child is, among other things, a proper and balanced diet. And if in the first months of life this is mainly due to breast milk, then as soon as the baby turns one year old, his/her diet changes dramatically. Breast milk is the best thing nature has ever invented. Moms try to breastfeed for as long as possible to give their babies the best start.

The baby’s nutrition becomes more varied after 12 months, but the dairy part is still essential. And if the mom continues to attach the baby to the breast, everything is simple. But if breastfeeding is not possible, the question arises: Should the little one continue to be given baby formula, or maybe it is time to introduce regular milk into the baby’s diet?

Milk formula is usually the first thing to disappear from a baby’s daily menu. Instead, parents offer their baby cow’s or goat’s milk. However, according to nutritionists, this is not the best option for replacement.

Let’s look at the differences between baby formula and cow’s or goat’s milk and find out which product can meet a baby’s nutritional needs during intensive growth and development.

Cow’s milk: its benefits or risks?

Milk is often called a healthy drink, so why is there so much controversy about it? The composition of milk is indeed very rich in beneficial substances. Certainly, cow’s milk is a very nutritious and valuable product. But only if the child’s body is ready to digest it. It contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins. 

However, suppose we are talking about feeding babies whose digestive system is not yet fully matured, parents need to consider the ratio and amount of different substances in the milk. The milk composition is optimal for a calf, but for a baby, it has too much protein, sodium, and other salts, with very few vitamins and other nutrients. Excess protein puts too much strain on the digestive system and kidneys resulting in health issues in the baby. 

Unfortunately, it can lead to diabetes, obesity, or hypertension in the future. It should also be underlined that cows and breast milk have different ratios of nutrients, vitamins, and trace elements. For example, calcium and phosphorus in cow’s milk are several times more than required for child growth and development. And the excess of these substances can disrupt the “chemical processes” in the baby’s body. But at the same time, iron in cow’s milk is much less than in breast milk, which can lead to iron-deficiency anemia in the infant. 

But one of the most common problems among babies associated with cow’s milk is an allergy to this product since milk protein is known to be one of the strongest allergens. Even adults are sometimes prone to allergic reactions to milk because they may lack the special enzymes to digest and assimilate it.

That is why cow’s milk is not the best option for a one-year-old baby. Parents can use milk to make porridge or other dishes. But as the main baby food, cow’s milk can be introduced into the children’s diet not until the child is two years old. At this age, the baby’s body is ready to use this product’s benefits without health risks. But in any case, consult your pediatrician beforehand if you decide to introduce cow’s milk into your baby’s diet. Your doctor will give you personal recommendations, taking into account the specifics of your baby’s health and development.

What is the best alternative to cow’s milk for babies?

A baby’s sensitive body, whose organs and systems are still actively developing, needs dairy products adapted to his/her nutritional needs. When weaning after one year, the baby should be offered a dairy alternative in the form of a follow-on formula. Such baby milk is easily digested and does not adversely affect the baby’s digestion. Stage 3 milk formulas are specially designed for children from 1 to 3 years old. They provide the same function as vitamin and mineral supplements, but this is not their only advantage. Such baby foods contain the whole set of nutrients a baby needs after 12 months for balanced growth and development. In developing the baby formula, scientists carefully select all the components in the exact quantity and proportion optimally assimilated by the baby’s body. In addition to essential ingredients, the infant formula is often enriched with probiotics to support the digestive system and with iron to prevent the development of anemia, a widespread problem among young children. So in order for your baby to grow up healthy, smart, and active, it is important to feed him or her the right foods for his or her age and needs.

Do babies need formula milk after 12 months?

Most formulas have approximately the same basic composition, with different percentages of ingredients, vitamins, and minerals. Particular baby formula is always explicitly chosen for each child since it is impossible to predict whether the baby will like its taste or not, for example, causing an allergic reaction. An excellent alternative to cow’s milk for babies from 12 months can be the HiPP Formula stage 3. Children at this age have special nutritional needs, and the formula should contain all the nutrients necessary for the proper growth of your child, essential vitamins and minerals for healthy development. The “second” formula, intended from 6 to 12 months, is not suitable for a one-year-old baby – it will not satisfy the growing child’s body requirements for the needed substances. That is why the HiPP formula includes iron and vitamin D in its composition, promoting calcium absorption and thus healthy bone growth.

A baby over a year should gradually be weaned from the bottle and taught to drink the milk formula from a cup to hold it confidently and drink it on his/her own.

Offer the baby formula for children from one year of age as the last feed at night or give it at noon and before bedtime, that is, 1-2 feedings with formula per day.