Does your baby need cow's milk?

My daughter is 11 months old, is breastfed and will eat almost any solid food given to her. I'm starting to think about introducing cow's milk, but she won't take a bottle, and, though she is happy to take a sippy cup with water or juice, she doesn't want to have anything to do with whole milk or formula or a type of fortified cows milk sold in Europe for babies. Does she need cow's milk now?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It is not unusual for an older baby to refuse her first sips of cow's milk -- as is, or in formula -- after having your sweet breastmilk. She may not be thrilled with the taste. It could also be a sensitivity or allergy issue. Allergy/sensitivity to cow's milk is not uncommon in childhood, and your baby may be avoiding a food that she is simply not yet ready for.

There is no reason for your daughter to drink cow's milk (in any form) at this time, since she is still nursing. Even as she weans from the breast, it is fine for her to obtain her protein, calcium and other nutrients from yogurt or the other dairy products she might be eating already. Yogurt, with active cultures, acts as a digestive enzyme, helping to make the milk protein less allergenic, so it is more easily tolerated by a sensitive toddler.

And don't be at all concerned about your little one not accepting a bottle. Most older breastfed babies are not interested in using a bottle. She is using a cup, and most likely will go directly from breast to cup when the time is right.

Deciding the right time to wean is a personal decision. Your little one will continue to benefit from nursing -- nutritionally, immunologically, and through the closeness it provides. If you are both happily nursing, there is no reason to stop. My very best wishes in mothering!

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