As parents, we often spend a lot of time obtaining as much information as we can to make sure that our children will grow up to be as healthy and well behaved as possible. We take parenting classes, read parenting books and articles, and get as much parenting advice as we can from friends and family. However, while we take many things into consideration when raising them, new questions can arise as they continue to grow, specifically when it comes to feeding. Making the decision to breastfeed or not is always a hot topic, but what do we give our children after breast milk or formula?
Beginning the Transition
We know the benefits of breast milk and formula, but transitioning to milk is an entirely new ballgame. When should babies begin transitioning from breast milk and/or formula to milk? What milk should we transition them to? Should they keep the same bottle during the transition?
In his 20 years as a pediatrician, Dr. Brannon Perilloux of Associates in Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine in Baton Rouge has had many new parents asking similar questions regarding milk transition. One of the more frequent questions asked is when to begin the transition.
As your little one continues to grow, he or she will require higher concentrations of protein and fat not found in breast milk or formula for healthy brain and nerve development. “Beginning milk transition at around 12 months helps ensure healthy development within the baby,” says Dr. Perilloux. Along with the transition to regular milk, the baby should also be eating the same foods as the rest of the family in order to transition them further away from breast milk or formula for nourishment.
Choosing the Milk
When you’re ready to begin the transition, knowing what milk is best is crucial. There are several different types of milk that the parent can transition their child to. There’s skim milk, whole milk, and even “toddler milk,” but choosing the right milk can be difficult.
However, Dr. Perilloux advises, “Whole milk is the best option for healthy development of the brain and nerves in babies since it is an easy source of protein and fat.” While some infants may do better with low-fat milks or water, they are lower in protein and fats, and may hinder growth in the brain and nerves. Though whole milk is the best option for healthy development, it may cause the baby to have gas. However, there is little cause for concern as the gas usually only lasts a few days as baby gets used to whole milk.
Deciding What to Use
With your milk and your time of when to transition chosen, making the decision on whether or not to ditch the bottle for a sippy cup is another concern. What’s the best way to make the transition easier?
“The bottle to sippy cup transition happen around the same time as the milk transition, at about 9-13 months,” says Dr. Perilloux. “By transitioning them to both whole milk and the sippy cup at the same time, they will have an easier time transitioning if everything is done all at once, rather than having them used to one change only for them to start another process of change, making the second transition even harder.”
As your baby continues to grow, he or she will eventually need to be weaned away from using a bottle, so making the transition all at once is ideal.
If you are transitioning your little one soon, having these tips will help make the transition easier, and give your baby girl or boy a better and healthier future. ■