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Experts recommend cow's milk as short-term substitute for babies over 6 months

Doctors say children should not be on cow's milk for longer than a week
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Posted at 5:03 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 18:41:35-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children six months old and older can substitute cow’s milk if parents are having difficulty finding baby formula.

However, the milk is not a long-term solution.

“It’s the best alternative, I wouldn’t say it’s a flat out alternative, so be careful. They really only recommend a few days to a week,” said Dr. Eric Baggerman, the CEO of Amistad Community Health Center in Corpus Christi.

Baggerman said cow’s milk does not have enough iron for children, and younger children’s kidneys could have trouble processing the milk.

“Cow’s milk is age appropriate after one years of age. You can imagine the closer someone is to one year of age, the better they may be able to tolerate the cow’s milk,” he said. “Still, up until that year, it’s not really a substitute.”

Chayan Benavidez has a seven-month-old daughter. She said she has struggled to find formula recently.

“I’ve got to Rockport, I’ve gone to Port Aransas, I’ve gone to Aransas Pass, Portland,” she said. “I’ve tried all the H-E-Bs here, in Corpus, even all over Nueces County.”

Benavidez said Baggerman, her daughter’s pediatrician, gave her the okay to give her daughter cow’s milk, if she needs to.

“I got the okay, saying I can give it to her, and I’m real thankful for that, so I can give her some milk,” she said.

Baggerman said whole milk is the best option for children, as it is the recommended type of milk for children up to 2-years-old.

“The best option is the whole milk, but if we end up on a shortage of whole milk, would 2 percent be the next thing? It’s the next thing in line. But, really, recommendations would be the whole milk,” Baggerman said.

Baggerman recommends against parents diluting formula and trying to make their own formula. He also said juice, like apple juice, is not an adequate substitution for formula.

He recommends parents with questions about giving their children cow's milk as an alternative to formula speak with their child's pediatrician with any questions they have.