Should I use the same stage of formula milk throughout my baby’s first year of life?
If your baby is happy, healthy, gaining weight steadily and has regular bowel movements, you don’t need to change the milk you are using in this first year. If you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding, or if you are thinking about changing the brand or type of milk you use, it’s best to speak to your health visitor or GP about it first.
Your baby should drink either breastmilk or infant milk for at least the first year of life. From 6 months, however, you may choose to use a follow on milk. These milks, which are usually labelled as stage 2, are formulated to be used alongside a varied weaning diet and are higher in iron than first infant milks.
From 12 months, when babies become active toddlers, you may wish to switch to a growing up milk. Growing up milks are specially formulated to provide the extra iron and vitamins that whole cows’ milk may be too low in to fully meet a baby’s needs at that age, and can provide the nutrition needed to support growth and increased activity.
Are there any special milks I can use for my baby?
Specific formulas are available for babies with special dietary needs, such as abut you should only use these on the advice of your GP or healthcare professional. If you think your baby needs a particular type of special milk, you should always discuss it with them.
Soya-based formula, in particular, should only be given to babies if recommended by your healthcare professional (read more about this on the NHS Choices website). They state: For the first six months, it’s best to give your baby only breast milk or infant formula. Breastfeeding is recommended because breastmilk provides all the nutrients that a baby needs for healthy development during this time. There is no health benefit in giving soya-based infant formula to a healthy baby.
When is it safe to introduce cows’ milk?
Babies shouldn’t have cows’ milk as a main milk drink until after age one. However, once you’ve started introducing solid foods at around 6 months old, it’s fine to use small quantities of whole cows’ milk to mix your baby’s foods, as long as there’s been no evidence of an allergy.
It’s best not to give semi-skimmed cows’ milk as a drink before age 2; it doesn’t contain enough vitamin A, and your growing toddler needs the fat and calories whole milk contains. After age 2, it’s fine to switch to semi-skimmed if your child is eating well and growing well. Skimmed milk is best avoided until age 5 or later, because it doesn’t provide enough calories for young, growing bodies.
Organic milk has been shown to have higher levels of some essential nutrients, including omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, compared with non-organic milk.