One-year-old refuses milk

My daughter is almost one-year-old and very strong willed. I am a working mother and nurse her in the morning and at night. My schedule doesn't allow me to nurse more. For the past three months she has wanted nothing to do with cow's milk or formula. What can I do?


Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Until a baby is one-year-old, cow's milk (in large quantities) contains too much protein for her kidneys and GI track to handle. Until that time, she should receive breastmilk or formula.

You mentioned nursing her in the morning and at night, however, you didn't say how often you nurse at night. It could be that she is getting plenty of milk from those nighttime nursings.

Now that your daugher is almost one, you may want to begin offering her a small cup of milk at each meal. In this way you will be getting her accustomed to the idea of drinking milk. Remember, it is a new taste, so allow her time. Don't force the issue. If you do, she may dig her heels in harder, refusing to drink milk.

It is common for a child's milk consumption to go down during this weaning process before they have really mastered drinking from a cup. In the meantime, you will want to be sure to get other sources of calcium into her diet. A one-year-old needs about 800 milligrams of calcium a day. Puddings, yogurt, frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, canned salmon, fortified orange juice, fortified dry cereals, and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of calcium.

You may also want to try adding flavorings to milk. Or make a delicious yogurt fruit shake by putting 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt in a blender. Variations on that theme also work, varying the juice, fruit and type of yogurt.

Use milk in cooking -- when making cereal, pudding, soup and sauces. Serve desserts such as custard, rice pudding and frozen yogurt. Use cheese in cooking for macaroni and cheese, lasagna, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, etc. Add dry powdered milk to baked products such as muffins (2tbsp/1 cup flour), pancakes, cornbread, and quick breads.

Be sure to set an example yourself by drinking milk at your meals. Children learn by imitation. If she is in a day care with other children, she will have the benefit of seeing the older kids drink milk and this may help. Be patient with the process, it may take time.

Thanks for writing. I hope you find this information helpful.

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