You send me more messages about milk than anything else! And my recent Q&A session was no different. So I hope you find this blog useful, I think it’s the longest one I’ve ever written!
Initially, I thought about writing two blogs, one for those of you that are breastfeeding and one for those who are formula feeding. But it makes more sense to answer all your questions together. Because a formula feeding mum today might be a breastfeeding mum of the future or you may be combining both approaches. As happens at my Baby Weaning Class, there’s a lot to learn from other parents questions.
How much formula should by baby be drinking at seven months?
The exact amount varies from baby to baby. But in general offer your:
7-9 month old: 20oz formula (600mls)
10-12 month old: 13oz formula (400mls).
Feed responsively; this means following your baby’s lead. When they’ve had enough, they’ll let you know. So don’t try to trick them into taking more than they want.
I’m going back to work next month, and my 9-month-old won’t drink milk from a bottle?
I feel your pain, my second baby flat out refused to drink from a bottle, and at the time, it was stressful. Don’t fear, though. There are lots of options:
- Get in as many feeds as you can while you’re together and offer water and food during the day. Depending on how long your working day is you could pack in 3-4 feeds before and after work.
- Feed more overnight (reverse cycling). When you’re co-sleeping, this is easier to manage. It doesn’t suit every mother, though!
- Offer your milk (or formula) from a straw cup or open cup during the day. At ten months, there’s no need to start a bottle. Going straight to a straw cup or beaker means you don’t have to break the bottle habit later on!
Do babies need follow-on formula after six months of age?
No. The World Health Organisation, HSE, NHS and American Academy of Paediatrics have all made clear statements that follow-on milk is not needed. Current advice suggests if you’re using formula continue with a first (whey-based) infant formula throughout the first year. First infant formula is closer nutritionally to breastmilk than follow-on formula. Follow-on milk was created by formula companies to allow them to advertise infant milk products since advertising infant formula is not allowed. There’s no advantage to moving on to follow-on milk, and the WHO suggests potential nutritional risk.
Should I buy fortified milk like supermilk, mega milk or Mor milk?
Fortified milk isn’t essential, but they can be a useful way of meeting vitamin D needs after 12 months. Depending on the brand they may also have higher levels of calcium, added iron and other vitamins and minerals which can be useful for certain children.
How much cows’ milk does my toddler need to drink if I’m still breastfeeding?
As long as you’re still breastfeeding every day, you don’t need to offer cows milk as a drink. Your breastmilk alongside foods rich in calcium (milk in cereal, cheese and yoghurt) is sufficient.
For example, An 18-month-old:
Drinking: 218mls breastmilk (77mg)
Eating: 200mls milk in porridge (260mg), a small amount (10g) of cheese (74mg) and two tablespoons of yoghurt (76mg) will exceed the 450mg calcium required. You’ll also need a reliable source of vitamin D for good bone health.
I’m breastfeeding my two year old but getting a lot of negative comments from my some family and friends. Any tips?
Many people genuinely don’t understand the benefits of feeding an older child. It might be helpful to discuss the benefits with your family and friends:
- Nutrition: Breastmilk continues to contribute energy, protein, calcium and vitamins. Research shows that as milk volume goes down, levels of some nutrients go up.
- Immune protection: As your toddler starts exploring the big bad world, they’ll need this protection more than ever. Just like the nutrients, as breastmilk volume decreases some immune properties in milk increase.
- Attachment and comfort: Children who feel safe and comforted go on to be more confident and secure children and adults. Breastfeeding is more than a drink!
You: Your risk of cancers such as breast and ovarian, are reduced. Along with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. Would your family deny you that advantage?
Explain that there is no limit on how long to breastfeed. If they can’t accept this, then ignore them and surround yourself with people who understand what you’re doing. There are lots of support groups in the community and online.
There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.
The American Academy of Paediatrics
I’d prefer not to offer cows milk or products, which is the best plant-based milk?
Nutritionally, soya milk is most similar to cows milk in terms of energy and protein content. Choose soya milk fortified with calcium (and preferably iodine). Most soya yoghurts are fortified with calcium, but most soya cheeses aren’t. Include other non-dairy sources of calcium like fortified cereals and bread, fish with soft bones (if you eat fish), oranges, dried apricots, figs and currants, nuts and seeds (milled or as smooth butter) and vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cabbage.
My toddler is allergic to cows milk, which is the best alternative?
Every toddler is different. It is best to get individualised advice specific to your child from a registered dietitian.
How do I move my 12-month-old from formula to milk?
At 12 months you’re trying to do two things, swap to cows milk and also phase out bottles. It makes sense to do them at the same time!
Switching from bottle to cup can be challenging, here are some tips to help you:
- By 12 months of age, most infants have the coordination and ability to hold a cup and drink from it. The earlier you started a cup, the better!
- If you don’t want to stop bottles suddenly, start by reducing them gradually from the feeding schedule, starting with the daytime ones.
- If your baby usually drinks three bottles each day, choose a good time for you and your baby, when you’re not in a rush or under pressure, and replace that bottle with milk in a cup.
- As you work on stopping the first bottle, keep offering the other two bottles for about a week. That way, if your baby looks for the bottle, you can assure that one is coming later.
- The next week, stop the second bottle, offer food first with some milk or water in a cup.
- The bedtime bottle tends to be a part of the bedtime routine and is the one that most provides comfort to babies. Instead of the bottle, try offering a cup of milk with your child’s evening snack and continue with the rest of your bedtime routine, like a bath, bedtime story and teeth brushing. It might help to give your child a comforting object to cuddle with, like a blanket or a favourite toy.
My toddler still breastfeeds a lot during the day and doesn’t eat much food. Should I cut back on letting him feed from me?
No, although it’s helpful to offer your toddler solid foods before milk and where possible to leave a gap between milk and food. Breastmilk continues to be a nutritious, calorie-dense food—as well as a drink. And it still helps protect him from infections, just as it did when he was a baby. As you know, many toddlers can be selective when it comes to eating, and this applies to breastfed and non breastfed children. Also, bear in mind that many toddlers often need to eat a lot less than we think they do as they are not growing as quickly as they were as babies.