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Weaning from formula to cow's milk + transitioning from a bottle to a cup

Weaning from formula to cow's milk + transitioning from a bottle to a cup

Age 1 is a big milestone for formula fed babies. It is time to say goodbye to both formula and baby bottles (and transition to a cup)! 


These are big changes and parents are often confused about how to navigate these with their toddlers. But we're here to help! 


Let's tackle moving from formula to cow's milk first.


  • Why switch from formula to cow's milk? 
  • After they reach 12 months of age, the best drink for a toddler is full fat cow's milk at least up to 2 years of age instead of formula. 


  • What about toddler (Stage 3) formula?
  • Toddler formula is absolutely unnecessary. According to Science Daily "Most toddler drinks are primarily composed of powdered milk, corn syrup or other added sweeteners, and vegetable oil, and contain more sodium and less protein than cow's milk...The World Health Organization deems toddler drinks "unnecessary" and "unsuitable," and the American Academy of Family Physicians says toddler drinks hold no advantage over cow's milk and a nutritious diet." So family food are cow's milk eliminate any need for toddler or Stage 3 formula.


  • What kind of cow's milk can be offered and how much? 
  • As mentioned above, full cream (full fat) milk should be introduced as toddlers need the fat for brain development. A child should drink no more than 350-400ml cow's milk per day. Too much milk reduces the absorption of iron in the body and could cause constipation.


  • How to switch from formula to cow's milk?
  • Change one feed at a time from formula to cow's milk. Don't expect your toddler to be ecstatic at the change, especially since formula milk is a lot sweeter than cow's milk. Persistence and patience are the two weapons in your arsenal here. Don't worry if the baby drinks only a little at a time. You can fortify their diet with other calcium rich, milk based foods like paneer, cheese, yogurt etc. 


    Next up, let's come to the second challenge - how to get your child to drink cow's milk from a cup instead of a bottle. 


  • Why switch to a cup? 
  • Using bottles for an extended period of time comes with a lot of problems:

    Tooth decay - formula is very sugary and drinking it from a bottle can lead to baby bottle tooth decay

    Dental issues - sucking from a bottle can affect the development of the facial muscles and palate which can lead to poorly positioned adult teeth. 

    Ear infections - feeding with a baby lying down is likely to cause ear infections


    • When to switch to a straw cup? 

    It is recommended to start using straw cups at the 12 month mark. The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) says the maximum age for switching is 18 months.


  • How to wean children from bottles? 
  • The best option is to go cold turkey and say good bye to all the bottles with your child watching. If possible, include them in the transition. Being a part of throwing away the bottles may make it more likely that they drink from the cup.

    Then replace each bottle feed with the cup. The child will find it difficult at first and may not drink much. That's okay, since at this age, most of their nutrition comes from solid foods.

    Don't forget to keep up any rituals associated with bottle feeding, be it a specific spot in the house or snuggling together while the child drinks milk. 


  • How to make the child use a straw cup?
  • It is best to familiarise a child with a straw cup at an early age. A straw cup with handles can be used as early as 7-8 months. Then when the child approaches the bottle weaning age, they are familiar with straw cups.

    A better straw cup can be introduced at 12 months that has a faster flow. There are a variety of 12m+ straw out there, but we recommend the Take and Toss straw cup. The unique thing about this cup is that if you squeeze the cup, the liquid travels up the straw and into the child's mouth. So the child quickly figures out that the milk will come from the straw, try hard to suck and eventually, they grasp that skill! 


    We hope this article will help you with both bottle weaning and switching to a cup plus switching from formula to cow's milk. If you have any more questions or suggestions regarding formula feeding, let's chat on The Nestery's Facebook group The Nest.


    Don't forget to check out the other two posts in our formula series for more formula feeding help!

    1. The Nestery's Ultimate Guide to Formula Feeding in India -
    2. The Nestery's Guide to Night Weaning a Formula Fed baby -
    Previous article Weaning - A Guide to Starting Solids for Your Baby

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