Can I offer cow’s milk to my baby starting at six months?

Updated on: Jan 11, 2021

No. It is recommended to wait until babies are at least 9 (to 12) months old before introducing cow’s milk. Before this age, iron-rich foods such as meat and cereals should be introduced to prevent anemia. 

The importance of iron for infants  

It was once believed that the calcium in cow’s milk could decrease iron absorption, though science has not confirmed this hypothesis. However, what is certain is that milk does not contain any iron.  

Iron-rich foods should be given first to prevent the infant from developing anemia. Meats, poultry and fish, as well as iron-fortified cereals, are the foods that should be favored as soon as the child begins to eat solids. 

Cow’s milk is not suitable for children less than 9 to 12 months of age 

Cow’s milk, when introduced before the age of 9 months, can cause bleeding in the intestines and increase the risk of anemia.  

Further, cow’s milk is so high in protein and minerals that it increases the workload of the kidneys. If the child gets sick, they are at greater risk of dehydration as the kidneys are working harder. In many countries, it is recommended to wait until the age of one before giving the baby cow’s milk. In Canada, it is recommended to wait until at least the age of nine months.  

Références

Lönnerdal B, Georgieff MK, Hernell O. (2016). Developmental Physiology of Iron Absorption, Homeostasis, and Metabolism in the Healthy Term Infant. J Pediatr, 167(4 Suppl):S8-S14.



PEN. (2019). Infant Nutrition- Complementary feeding: Summary of recommendations and evidence. Practice-based evidence in nutrittion.



Powers JM, Mahoney, DH. (2020). Iron deficiency in infants and children <12 years : Screening, prevention, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. UptoDate.



Santé Canada. (2015). La nutrition du nourrisson né à terme et en santé : Recommandations de 6 à 24 mois. Repéré à

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-fra.php Partager avec un ami

Société canadienne de pédiatrie. (2019). Les besoins en fer des bébés et des enfants. Repéré à :

https://www.soinsdenosenfants.cps.ca/handouts/pregnancy-and-babies/iron_needs_of_babies_and_children

 

 

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