How to Transition From Infant Formula to Whole Milk

by Christina Schnell
Familiarity with a sippy cup can ease the transition to using one instead of a bottle.

Familiarity with a sippy cup can ease the transition to using one instead of a bottle.

At around age 12 months, babies no longer need the nutrients found exclusively in formula. When your baby reaches her first birthday, you can begin offering your little one whole cow's milk. However, you shouldn't offer skim or 2 percent milk until your child is at least 2-years-old because until that age, she still needs the fats found in whole milk for brain development. She can get these by drinking 2 to 3 cups of whole milk each day, according to the KidsHealth website. Babies sometimes resist whole milk at first. If this is the case, transitioning gradually from formula to whole milk can help.

Step 1

Mix whole milk in your baby's formula over a period of few days, increasing the ratios each day or every few days, depending how your baby responds to the whole milk. For example, you can start the transition by giving her 6 ounces of formula with 2 ounces of whole milk. Next, shift the ratio to 4 ounces of formula with 4 ounces of whole milk, and then to 2 ounces of formula with 6 ounces of whole milk. Finally, you can offer her pure whole milk. This gradual transition may reduce her resistance and ease the transition, according to the Fisher-Price website.

Step 2

Replace one formula feeding at a time with warmed whole milk instead of using the ratio method if your child isn't too resistant to the transition to whole milk. For example, if your baby normally takes four bottles a day, replace the second one with warmed whole milk to start and then the third, working your way up to the point when you are giving her just whole milk.

Step 3

Begin transitioning your baby to a sippy cup with whole milk in place of a bottle. You can wean a baby off the bottle at around age 12 to 18 months, according to the University of San Francisco Children's Hospital website. You might want to do this while you are transitioning your child to whole milk from formula or wait until he is comfortable taking whole milk in his bottle. Warm the whole milk in your child's sippy cup by placing it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes if he is used to drinking warm formula in his bottle. The transition to an entirely different substance that's also a different temperature can be upsetting. Warming the whole milk makes it more familiar, and hopefully less of a shock, when transitioning.

Tip

  • Introduce your baby to a sippy cup filled with water or formula at around 8 or 9 months of age. Getting her used to drinking from a sippy cup when she's still taking bottles of formula can make the transition less of a shock since she's already familiar with the cup.

Warning

  • Resist the temptation to put chocolate or strawberry milk inside your baby's sippy cup when introducing whole milk. This can cause your child to expect something sweet in her sippy cup, which can lead to her dislike for plain whole milk not to mention tooth decay.

About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.

Photo Credits

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