The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends transitioning to cow’s milk around a child’s first birthday. This does not mean a complete, abrupt switch at age one. Many families prefer a gradual transition from formula or breastmilk to cow’s milk, and we will discuss how to go about that here. 

Weaning From Bottle And Breast

If your toddler has fully embraced their solid food journey, then the changeover from breast or bottle to cups of milk and water as well as solid food may be an easy transition. 

If your child is taking a bottle or nursing a few times per day, and everyone is happy with that arrangement, you can decide to wean gradually. As long as your child does not have any issues with ear infections for bottle-fed toddlers and there is no interference with sleep and dental care for breast and bottle-fed toddlers (your child needs to have their teeth brushed after a bottle or breastfeeding before bedtime to prevent cavities), then you can take some time. Just know that the longer your child takes a bottle or nurses, the harder it might be to wean.

However, if your child is still taking a bottle or nursing frequently and not eating much solid food, please talk to their healthcare provider for a plan to gradually decrease this regularity. Starting at age 1, solid food and drinking from a cup should a substantial portion of your child’s nutritional intake.

Additionally, if your toddler is still bottle or breastfeeding on a frequent basis, some things to consider that may help you and their healthcare provider sort why this might be the case.

Is your child still struggling with eating solid food?

  • Is this issue related to a general dislike of food?  Texture? 
  • Is the problem more a mechanical one, related to difficulty with chewing or swallowing?  
  • Is your toddler having some digestive problems, intolerances or allergic issues that need to be addressed? 

Is the bottle or breast being used as a means for managing difficult emotions in your toddler?  

While we appreciate that a bottle and breastfeeding can be very soothing for babies and toddlers, if used exclusively to quiet a child, your child may miss key opportunities for emotional growth and learning to acknowledge and manage their feelings.

Making The Switch to Dairy Milk 

It can be challenging for your toddler to change over to regular cow’s milk. The taste of breast milk/formula and cow’s milk is quite different, so we often recommend gradually adding a little more regular milk to a cup of their formula/breast milk (if you have any stored up) and then increasing the amount of regular milk added every few days. Hopefully, you can make the switch over to cow’s milk in a month or two.

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