Knowing what to give your baby to drink is one of the easier decisions that you will have to make this next year. The AAP is very clear in recommending that kids who aren't breastfeeding should start on milk after they are a year old. If your toddler is still breastfeeding two to three times a day, he won't have to start milk until he weans down to only one feeding or stops breastfeeding altogether.
The AAP recommends that most toddlers drink whole cow's milk. Younger children need some fat in their diet and it is not recommended that you limit their fat intake until after they are two years old. That means no low-fat or skim milk until later. If your toddler is already overweight or if there is a family history of obesity, the AAP recommends switching to reduced fat milk after your toddler is twelve months old though.
The decision of what to give your toddler to drink becomes harder if he is allergic to milk. Many infants on soy formulas are able to switch to cow's milk without problems. You should still talk to your pediatrician before starting milk if your baby was intolerant of milk-based formulas. If your child only has simple formula insensitivities, and no serious allergy-type symptoms, your pediatrician might say it is okay to start milk.
If you know your child is allergic to milk and he did well on a soy formula, you can simply continue with a soy formula, or you might change to a toddler soy formula. Soy milk is not a very good alternative, because it is low in fat.
If your toddler is resisting milk, you might consider waiting a few weeks and trying again. Going more slowly, for instance switching only one bottle from formula to milk every week, also can be helpful. As a last resort, you might consider mixing the formula and milk together and then slowly putting less and less formula in the bottle to get him slowly accustomed to the taste of milk.
Kids Who Won't Drink Milk
Children who don't have milk allergies, but simply don't like milk, have many options. They can simply continue to drink a toddler formula, whether it is milk or soy-based. Or they can just eat and drink other foods supplemented with calcium. These include cheese, yogurt, orange juice, and many other foods whose labels say that they are a “good” or “excellent” source of calcium. As a last resort, you might also consider flavoring your child's milk.
Toddlers not drinking milk are also likely to need a Vitamin D supplement. In addition, you will have to be sure to make up for the fat and calories that your toddler is missing out on by not drinking milk.
Parents seem to worry more when their children don't drink enough milk, but drinking too much can be almost as bad. In addition to filling up on milk and not eating other foods, toddlers who drink a lot of milk can get constipated and are at risk for iron deficiency. Getting too many calories can be another problem. To avoid these problems, try to limit your toddler's milk intake to sixteen to twenty-four ounces a day.