There are several reasons to delay the introduction of cow’s milk until your baby reaches his first birthday. Most important, a baby’s digestive system can’t digest cow’s milk proteins. Cow’s milk also has too much sodium, potassium, and chloride, which can tax your baby’s kidneys.
Even if his system could handle it, cow’s milk doesn’t have all the vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin E, zinc, and iron) that he needs for growth and development in his first year. Giving a baby cow’s milk could even cause iron deficiency and internal bleeding. And it can increase his risk of an allergic reaction.
Once your baby’s digestive system is ready to digest it, though, milk becomes a powerful ally. A great source of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and magnesium, milk will build your toddler’s bones and teeth and help his body regulate his blood coagulation and muscle control. Almost all milk is fortified with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb the calcium it needs.
Milk also provides protein for growth, as well as carbohydrates, which will give your child the energy he needs to toddle all day! And if your child gets enough calcium from the get-go, there’s evidence that he’ll have a lower risk of high blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer, and hip fractures later in life.
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