Since when is it possible to give cow's milk to a newborn? Never under 12 months.

When it comes to thinking about children's health, one of the very first things that comes to parents' minds is to ensure they have a healthy and balanced diet. Nothing more true, but if this is an easy prerogative to obtain in the first months of life, thanks to breast milk, it is right to maintain this goal during growth! Here are some tips on nutrition from our expert Rachele Aspesi; all in the video below.

Feeding and babies

Breast milk is always to be preferred over any other type of milk on the market, whether it is cow's milk or formula.
This is because a mother's milk is a specific species, that is, complete with all those essential nutrients that favor the correct development of a human baby. And in particular, it is unique and perfect for her baby. Nature has thought of everything. !

But what to do when the time of weaning approaches or is no longer breastfeeding? There are many currents of thought, but pediatricians certainly agree in dissuading mothers from offering cow's milk to a newborn who has not yet turned 1; if the mother does not want to prolong breastfeeding then it is better to opt for other types of milk, such as formula. Before understanding why it is better not to give it to babies who have just come into the world, let's review some good practices regarding nutrition, to put in place to raise healthy and strong children.

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First of all, it is essential that the baby takes breast milk at least for the first 6 months of life: breastfeeding in this period allows the baby to grow ideally both physically and emotionally.
If the mother, on the other hand, does not feel like breastfeeding, as an alternative to her milk it is possible to use the formula, which thanks to the balanced presence of nutrients is perhaps the food that comes closest to that of the mother. Not surprisingly, it is given as "addition" to newborns even in the very early stages of breastfeeding, when there are problems in starting it correctly.

Before choosing an artificial milk, however, it is always better to discuss with your trusted pediatrician who will be able to direct the mother on the one most suitable for the baby.

After 6 months, it is necessary for the baby to supplement his diet with other foods, but it is not yet the time for cow's milk. At this moment we are talking about fruit based snacks, fresh pureed vegetables and pureed proteins. If the mother's milk fails, then you can opt for a follow-on milk.
At around 12 months, and only then, it is possible to introduce cow's milk as a breakfast.

Let's now understand in detail why this food is not suitable for a newborn baby.

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Why it is better not to give cow's milk to babies

The main reasons for this "stop" tend to be two and concern the composition of the food: in particular it is the excess protein and the scarce presence of iron.

The too many proteins naturally contained in cow's milk are a danger for the very young: numerous researches have shown that this nutrient must be present in limited quantities in the diet of children, especially in those under 24 months. Why? Because an unbalanced intake of this nutrient in their diet increases the risk of developing obesity in the future, a possibility that must absolutely be avoided.

Low iron on the other hand is equally detrimental to the baby's proper development; infants have a high need for this micronutrient and cow's or goat's milk cannot adequately cover their nutritional needs. Taking cow's milk too early can even lead to anemia.

In addition to these risk factors, we also report the difficulty that newborns have in digesting it: their digestive system is still very delicate under the age of one, and a too early intake of cow's milk as a drink risks causing them various intestinal discomfort.

As you can see, we mention cow's milk only as a drink in this article, because instead it is absolutely possible to offer it to the baby as an ingredient to prepare healthy dishes such as puree. Small amounts in his diet are not bad for the little one.
Let's not forget that milk is still a precious food, rich in nutrients; let's see which ones!

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Characteristics of cow's milk

In terms of nutrients, cow's milk is composed as follows (each animal has a different milk composition, but since it is mixed with others before being placed on the market we can say an average composition):

  • water, present at 87.5%
  • proteins, of which the most representative is casein, at 3.5%
  • lipids, 3.5%
  • sugars, such as lactose, present at 5%
  • mineral salts, for example calcium, at 1%.

At first glance there would seem to be nothing wrong, but consider that for a newborn the nutritional needs are very different! His small kidneys are unable to work properly the minerals and proteins, while the lack of iron and vitamins such as D of known importance for the very small, lead to other types of problems, to the bones and skin for example. The deficiencies are related to the quality of breast milk or those in formula, specially designed to guarantee babies all the essential nutrients for proper growth.

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Cow's milk after 12 months: yes, but gradually

Now that we understand why it is not recommended to offer cow's milk to infants, let's see how to include it in the diet once the milestone of the first birthday has arrived.

Make common sense prevail: if cow's milk is not recommended at a few days from 12 months, it does not mean that at 14 months it can be given as a main drink in large quantities. It always depends on the child and his hunger. If a baby is satisfied with 200 or 400 ml of milk per day, then cow's milk can be easily included in the diet, but if the baby has higher needs, it is better to opt for other ways such as growth milks in formula (type 3) . These new generation foods can be found both in pharmacies and in supermarkets or in shops specializing in baby food: in powder or liquid form, this milk is specifically formulated for children over the age of 1 and it is possible to offer it up to 3 years old.

If cow's milk is your choice, then it is preferable to administer it in stages, which serves to note whether the baby is able to digest the food correctly. For the first few days, cow's milk should be diluted with water. 50% of milk and the remaining 50% of mineral water; continue in the following weeks by decreasing the dose of water more and more: if the baby does not give "signs of discomfort or intolerance, you can offer it in full in the breakfast bottle.

Always remember to give your baby a microbiologically safe milk: therefore pasteurized or heated before use.

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Whole or semi-skimmed milk for babies?

Entire! With no doubts. Do you even know why?
Semi-skimmed or fully skimmed milk is not recommended by experts up to 3 years of age because it has a significantly lower content of energy and fat-soluble vitamins than whole milk. Not only that, unlike what is thought, non-whole milk has a higher protein intake than the complete one and we have already said how it is essential for children to limit this type of substances.

Also, in these early stages of life there is a need for fat, which whole milk certainly has, and they need much more to babies than to an adult.
Milk fats are saturated, and therefore not optimal, but if we manage to include other unsaturated fats in the baby's diet, it is perfectly fine to give the child this type of drink.

When it comes to which type of whole milk to choose for a small child, there is "no" best option; base your decision on your family habits. In general, however, keep in mind that fresh milk is more pleasant to children than long-life milk, thanks to its mouth-watering flavor; but also because the nutrients inside are not altered by the conservation processes.
There are also microfiltered milks, a sort of middle ground, which last about 7 days in the refrigerator.

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Drinking cow's milk when pregnant

After analyzing the pros and cons of one of the basic foods on our table, we want to open a parenthesis on the intake of cow's (or goat's) milk during pregnancy.

If milk is not to be offered to newborn babies, pregnant is instead more than recommended! Why?
Apparently it has been discovered that drinking a glass of milk during the 9 months is good for both the expectant mother and the baby in the belly, to grow well from the earliest stages of life. In fact, those who are pregnant need a large intake of calcium, which varies between 1000mg and 1300mg per day and cow's milk is an ideal food to meet this need, but also to alleviate some typical ailments of gestation such as heartburn. .
The generally recommended dose is about 150ml per day: this amount would bring great benefits in the growth of children even after their birth. It would even seem like a panacea to reduce the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes in adolescence, since it promotes the increase in the level of insulin in the blood.

Drinking pasteurized milk during pregnancy reduces the chances of the baby developing osteoporosis in childhood, prevents the risk of neonatal rickets and strengthens the brain development of the fetus. In addition, it is also associated with the reduction of the risk of contracting multiple sclerosis as an adult.
In short, if you are expecting a baby, don't be afraid to drink some every morning!

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