Switching from Breast Milk or Formula to Whole Milk

Switching from Breast Milk or Formula to Whole Milk

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day! Last week, we had a great question on how and when to transition from breast milk to whole milk.

Whether you’re using breast milk or formula, we typically recommend introducing whole milk around 12 months of age. Breastfeeding can certainly continue longer than 12 months, as long as it is mutually agreeable to both mom and toddler. Like many things, some kids take to the switch very easily and others not so easily. When introducing whole milk, we recommend offering it in a sippy cup instead of a bottle, particularly since our goal is to wean the bottle by 15-18 months of age. If your toddler likes it, great! If not, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • If your child is used to warm or room temperature formula (or body temperature breast milk), try to warm the whole milk a little. However, be very careful warming in the microwave, as there can be pockets of heat. Be sure to shake it well to prevent burns.
  • If your child refuses milk from the sippy cup and only wants it in a bottle, try putting only water in the bottle. When they want milk badly enough, they’ll typically agree to use the sippy cup.
  • Try different sippy cups!
  • If your child is refusing the whole milk, try mixing it with breast milk or formula and slowly decrease the mixture until it’s just whole milk.

We typically recommend to continue giving your toddler whole milk from 12-24 months of age. Depending on your toddler’s weight, sometimes we suggest switching to 2% milk. We do recommend limiting milk intake to 18-24 oz/day; if they drink a lot more than that, it can fill them up so they don’t eat other healthy foods, particularly iron-containing ones.

If you have more questions, please be sure to ask your pediatrician! We also have a Facebook pediatrics group you can join to ask questions and keep up to date on the latest news.