Wondering when can babies have cow’s milk? Aside from the fact that humans are the only species that can drink milk after they’re babies, which is just kind of weird, there’s a scientific basis behind the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations against feeding babies cows milk for the first 12 months. Which is good, because you don’t really want a bunch of doctors making decisions based on stuff being weird.
Your kid might be living in the Golden Age of breastfeeding, but there are plenty of practical reasons why your partner might not be able to, so why not use cow’s milk? Because it can be dangerous for babies: it’s deficient in iron, linoleic acid, and vitamin E — the same nutrients in which solids are often deficient. Which means if you transition from breast milk or formula to cow’s milk at the same time as you’re introducing solids, you’re liable to wind up feeding your kid way too much protein, sodium, and potassium. And if you feed your baby any kind of milk at the same time as you’re making a hilarious dad joke, you’re liable to see milk coming out of a tiny little nose.
The major issue is iron. Too little in a baby’s diet can lead to low production of hemoglobin, which binds oxygen in red blood cells. Fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen can lead to anemia, which could be exacerbated by intestinal bleeding that sometimes results when babies’ developing digestive systems still can’t handle cow’s milk.
You don’t want your baby left pale and listless like a mini Robert Smith, so what’s The Cure (#dadjokes for days!)? In lieu of breast milk, formula rich in iron and fortified with other vitamins can stave off nutritional issues for an infant. Rest assured, though, breast milk is still the gold standard of liquids you should put in your baby’s face (are there any others?). Whether you’re using mother’s milk or formula, the AAP recommends introducing age-appropriate solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age, which will improve both their nutritional balance and your chances of capturing their awesome reactions to lemons on film.