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When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula?

When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula?

At one point or another, your child will be ready to move away from their formula and make the switch to the real deal.

But how long should your child be drinking formula before they change to real milk? If you’re struggling, you’re not alone.

This is a common question for parents, and it’s one that causes plenty of confusion.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about formula, and how to know when your baby is ready to move over to regular milk. 

How Long Should Babies Drink Formula For? 

Although there’s no hard and fast rule you should adhere to, most people suggest making the switch to cow’s milk at around 12 months old.

Cow’s milk cannot be digested by babies younger than one-year-old, and in their first year, they’ll need nutrient-rich breast milk or formula to meet their requirements. 

The proteins and minerals found in cow’s milk can be hard to digest for young babies, and they may cause diarrhea and put stress on your baby’s kidneys.

Although you can transition from formula to milk later than 12 months, you should not attempt it any sooner. Here are a few other reasons why your baby should stop drinking formula by 12 months: 

  • By this age, they’ll be eating around three meals a day, having at least two snacks, and getting most of their daily nutritional requirements from their food
  • If you continue feeding your child formula at this age, you may reduce their appetite which can cause issues with weight, and learning to enjoy a variety of foods and textures 

Remember: You shouldn’t just be avoiding cow’s milk as a drink, but you should also avoid giving it to your baby in cooked or baked foods.

If you want to feed your baby recipes that would usually contain cow’s milk, try adding unsweetened non-dairy milk instead. 

What Milk Is Best For Toddlers?

When your baby is ready to make the change from formula to milk, you may be wondering: what type of milk is best?

Ideally, you should avoid reduced or nonfat milk. Whole milk is best, as your baby or toddler will need a sufficient amount of fat to support their growth. 

When you start the transition, you may choose to start weaning with an alternative to cow’s milk.

If you want to use an alternative to cow’s milk, we’d recommend talking to your healthcare provider first to ensure your baby will get the nutrients they need. 

Is Whole Milk As Nutritious As Formula? 

Although formula and cow’s milk may seem pretty similar, they do have some notable differences.

Cow’s milk usually contains more protein and minerals than formula, however, the formula will be fortified with vitamin c and iron in the right amounts for infants.

So, when you make the switch, you’ll need to ensure that your baby is getting enough of these nutrients in their food to make up for what they’ll be losing from their formula. 

When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula

How To Start Weaning Your Baby Off Formula 

If your baby is ready to start moving from formula to milk, you’ll be pleased to know that the weaning process is pretty simple.

However, there are a few tips and tricks you can try to make the process easier. 

Before we start, yes, you can just swap formula for milk! However, there are a few things you can do beforehand to prepare both you and your baby for the change. 

More Flavors

To prepare your baby for the change, you’ll need to diversify the flavors in their diet to get them comfortable with trying new foods.

This process usually starts at 6 months, so if you plan to start weaning at 12 months, they should be well prepared.

Introduce A Cup

Before you start weaning, it’s a good idea to build up your baby’s hand-eye coordination and skills.

You can start this process as early as 6 months, and they should be ready for the cup once they’ve been practicing using spoons and fingers.

This process can take time, so start by gradually introducing the cup and letting them hold it. You can put a small amount of formula in the cup first and let them sip it.

After a while, you’ll be able to replace every bottle with a cup – but don’t rush! 

When Do Babies Stop Drinking Breastmilk? 

Stopping breast milk is a more personal and nuanced decision than formula. Some families prefer to wean their babies off breast milk at 12 months, but some may start earlier, or much later.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and you’ll know when your babies seem ready to make the switch. 

One of the biggest indicators that it’s time to wean is if your feeds seem to be affecting your baby’s appetite.

If they’re not all that interested in actual meals or snacks, you may want to start weaning to get them used to eating full meals and experiencing different textures.

You could also try offering them solid food before you would breastfeed.

Allowing your baby to experience different foods and textures as early as possible will teach them how to handle the change, and prevent picky eaters in the future. 

The Bottom Line 

There’s no right or wrong way to transition your baby from formula to milk, however, the guidelines suggest that the process should start at approximately 12 months and above.

Introducing cow’s milk to your baby before 12 months could cause diarrhea and uncomfortable physical symptoms. 

Weaning is a surprisingly simple process, and the earlier you start introducing different foods and textures into your baby’s diet, the better.

This will get them used to experiencing changes in their diet, and it will make them much more likely to embrace the change to cow’s milk.

Remember: if their regular feeds are affecting their appetite for meals, they’re probably ready to make the change to milk! 

Jessica Daniels

Hey there! I’m Jessica Daniels, the owner of Posh Tots and a proud mom of two.

Me and my team of experts (who also happen to be moms) test and review parenting products, and share our tips and tricks to help you make informed choices for your little ones.

Let’s navigate this crazy parenting journey together!

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