Why Cheese and Butter, But No Cow’s Milk For a Baby Until One Year?


Why can’t you give cow’s milk for baby until one year as a main drink?

You have been hearing a lot from various sources about “no cow’s milk for babies until one year”. Do you know the scientific reason behind this?

Let’s talk in detail about this in today’s post.

You might have seen many parents starting cow’s milk for their baby just because of the pressure from elders. What they don’t understand is the baby doesn’t need anything other than breast milk or formula for the first 6 months.

Such babies who are introduced to cow’s milk often have low immunity, loose motions, cough, cold and frequent ear infections.

 no cow's milk for baby

Why no cow’s milk for babies less than 1 year old?

Giving cow’s milk to a baby before a year is controversial among experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no cow’s milk until the child’s first birthday.

Some of the reasons for this are as mentioned below.

  • Large amounts of protein

Cow’s milk contains large amount of proteins called Caseine. These excessive proteins in cow’s milk are harder to digest by babies. It often causes intestinal blood loss and can overload baby’s kidneys.

  • Causes lactose intolerance

Lactose is the sugar found in the cow’s milk. It is digested by an enzyme called lactase.

The amount of lactase produced in a baby’s body is suitable only to digest the breast milk. When cow’s milk is introduced to babies, it’s not digested properly.

The lactose present in the cow’s milk stays in the baby’s intestine. The bacteria present in the gut try to break down the lactose producing large amounts of hydrogen gas and lactic acid. This is commonly referred to as lactose intolerance.

Common symptoms of lactose intolerance are abdominal pain, crankiness, bloating of tummy, diarrhea and red nappy rashes.

  •  Large amounts of potassium and sodium

Cow’s milk as a main drink is not ideal for babies below 1 year. The high levels of potassium and sodium in cow’s milk can often results in loose motions, allergies, rashes on the cheeks.

  •  Iron deficiency / anemia

Cow’s milk doesn’t contain enough iron required for baby. Hence if a baby is provided cow’s milk instead of breast milk or formula before he turns one, he is more likely to be anemic.

  • Causes blood in poop

Cow’s milk can irritate the lining of the digestive system of babies. This often results in blood stains in baby’s poop.

  • Ear infections

Cow’s milk poses as allergy to many babies. Babies can develop frequent ear infections due to this allergy.

  •  Lacks important nutrients

Cow’s milk does not contain enough amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and other nutrients required for the initial years of a baby’s growth.

  • Causes allergies

Babies under a year are more prone to allergic reactions.

Allergy happens when your baby’s immune system reacts to milk proteins mistakenly thinking it as a foreign body. This is the most common childhood allergy. Most children outgrow this by the age of 4 or 5.

Symptoms of allergy may occur within minutes or several hours or a day or several days after drinking cow’s milk. Common symptoms of cow’s milk allergy are diarrhea, difficulty in breathing, eczema, hives, rashes and vomiting.

In certain cases, introducing cow’s milk before 1 year, may also lead to a condition known as Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus.

Why cheese and butter are ok for babies for babies below 1 year?

Most of the experts consider butter and cheese to be okay for most babies after 6 months. A few prefer waiting until 9-12 months.

Let’s see why cheese, butter and other dairy products can be given to babies less than 1 year old.

  • Cheese

In the cheese-making process, the whey proteins are drained off and the casein protein will remain. The curdling enzymes break down the casein proteins into smaller protein molecules which can be easily digested by babies.

Hence cheese can be started for babies from 8th month in the form of finger foods, cheese broccoli mash or any other forms.

  • Butter

For those who cannot consume cheese can have butter because much of the milk proteins have been removed. Butter is comprised primarily of butter fat.

Half a teaspoon of butter or makhan can be given to babies from 6th month with dal khichdi, porridges or any other baby food.

  • Ghee

Ghee is basically pure butter oil, which is much less likely to cause dairy intolerance symptoms.

During the ghee making process, the milk solids are almost entirely removed leaving the healthy butter fats behind. It is the best one which does not cause any allergic reactions.

Like butter, ghee can also be started for babies from 6th month in porridges and khichdi.

  • Yogurt

The main difference between yogurt and milk is that the lactose in yogurt has been converted into lactic acid.

The whole milk yogurt is better for babies and toddlers. Please avoid low fat and no fat dairy products for babies.

Yogurt can be started for babies from 8th month on wards.

You can blend in fruits like banana, mango to make fruit smoothies at home too. Do not introduce store bought flavoured yoghurt which is loaded with lots of sugars, preservatives and artificial sweeteners.

If baby has cow’s milk allergy or there is a strong history of allergy to cow’s milk in the family, cheese, butter and other dairy products should be avoided until one year or later.

Quantity of cow’s milk to be given after 1 year:

After a year, cow’s milk can be introduced. It’s recommended to limit the amount of cow’s milk by 2-3 cups per day.

Too much cow’s milk in a kid’s diet can put them at risk for iron-deficiency or anemia. It is because milk can interfere with the absorption of iron and decrease the child’s desire for other foods.


Always make it a point to introduce cow’s milk as the main drink after your baby’s first birthday. You can add small amounts of cow’s milk in porridges and mashes after your baby reaches 11 months.

Your baby doesn’t need cow’s milk for his growth in the initial years as formula or breast milk does the needful. You can give cheese, butter, ghee and yogurt though.

Always remember you should seek your baby’s doctor’s or dietician’s opinion before introducing cow’s milk or any other dairy products if there is a strong family history of cow’s milk allergy or lactose intolerance.

Did you start cow’s milk for your baby before or after his first birthday? Kindly share with me in comments.


About Author

A darling wife of Vijay Varadarajan and a lovely mom to Rithvik. A Biotechnology post graduate, Jayalekshmy quit her job the very next day she became pregnant. Realized her passion for cooking after Rithvik came into their life and now loves to experiment different cuisines. Her other interests are home interior decoration, gardening, internet surfing,a bit photography and whatsaap chatting with her loved ones.


  1. Hi this is very useful information..my twin boys were ebf before starting solids at 5.5 months..They are now 9 Montis and healthy except that they are not teething many are saying that’s its high time..i just started curd for them upon the pead’s advice..could it be due to any deficiency in calcium? Other than 3 meals of solids they are bf..they dint take nicely to ragi porride..any other suggestions for calcium rich foods also is supplementing calcium n vit drops necessary at this at age have given for a few months when they were younger

    • Hi Rekha,
      Delayed teething is nothing to worry about.Some babies even take up to 18 months to grow his or her first tooth.It may be sometimes due to hereditary,or poor nutrition especially vitamin D and calcium deficiency, or hypothyroidism. You can wait until your baby reaches 13 months. By then also your baby is not teething, he is experiencing late teething. Consult a paediatrician if you are really worried to determine the teething problem.


  2. Hi
    My daughter is now one year old n i had started cow milk from her very first day due to lack of breastmilk n i m working woman
    Now plz suggest me about proper food chart with milk
    Is lactogen no. 2 formula OK for her

  3. Hi .. Im blessed with twin baby boys and they are 2months old now, problem is my breast milk is Not sufficient for both of them and we can’t afford formula milk.so i.have started cow’s milk (diluted)from 2days ..till now there are no signs of vomitings etc…I am left with no other option..

  4. Hi my son is 9 month old and breastfeeded along with the weaning foods. Though I add FM in some of his food like suji payasam, sometime with mashed rice too. Can u plz suggest which BM contains less ingredients of cow milk and which one is best pro nan 2 or lactogen 2. Though rit now iam using both.

  5. zarnain fareed on

    Your articles are very informative but i m confused to that cows milk as a main drink is not gud for babies,so can i make a custurd using cows milk for my 8month is it okay?

  6. Hi sangeetha,

    From 2nd month we have been giving cows milk (diluted) for the baby. I couldnot see a pedeatrician as i was not allowed by my old relatives and my mother.
    they were saying you do what we used to follow earlier .
    had to start cows milk as BM was not enough and baby used to cry most of the times out of hunger.Even i bought pro nan asking gynec, but couldnot give.
    Now am planning to give pro nan + BM after reading your blog(irrespective of old ppls suggestions)
    am worried whether using cows milk for 2 months has affected my babies growth. Please help!

  7. Very informative blog! I have a question regarding giving cheese to an 8- month old baby. Will the salt content of cheese affect the baby?

  8. snehal thakare on

    Hi sangeetha
    My baby is 5 n half month old. She is completely on BM till now but our pediatrician suggest us to start with FM as she is not gaining proper weight but my baby is not accepting FM she spit it out and keep his lips close when i try to feed her. I tried in many ways but all efforts are useless so what should i do now ??
    Really very worried about her. 🙁

  9. Hi

    My baby is 7 n half months. I have done mistake of introducing cow milk diluted with water when she was around 5 months. She had blackish poop next day. I didn’t find any fussiness or crying or no diarrhea or vomiting. I stopped it in 2 days. But then she’s also getting green poop on giving milk based formula too.. Docs are saying no to worry as she’s not crying means she doesn’t have stomach pain. She doesn’t Have diarrhea or vomiting too so just change in color of the stool does not matter. I don’t. Believe them.. As she’s not putting on weight properly. We had still test twice n occult blood n reducing substance came up positive. Just to check we hv stopped milk based formula n m exclusively breast feeding n hv noticed improvement in color of stool. But m not producing enough bm n m giving her more food instead but I know this is not solution. We don’t get hydrolyzed formula here. And my mom is insisting to try buffalo milk if it suits her. But I feel if she couldn’t take milk based formula, will it be okay to give buffalo milk..?! Pls help

    • Aesha,

      Try to get the formula brands online. Buffalo milk or any other alternative for a baby so young is NOT advisable. If you tell me the brand name and the place you stay, let me see what I can do for you.

  10. Hi Jayalekshmy,

    dear i m confused as i didnt have breastfeed so my doctor advised me to give cows milk. mydaughter is now 11 months and i m giving from 2 months

    • Hi harsha,
      If your paed advised you to do so go ahead .no worries anyway your little one going to be 1 within few days ..happy parenting

  11. Thanks ….this article was really informative. My lil Rawya is 6 months old and I have started home made cerelac in cow’s milk approx. 100 ml once a day after she has had her bath. As I am working lady, I had to use other milk. Till now , I have not noticed any signs of the above but I think I will stop using cow’s milk till she turns one as I would not be knowing whether ma kid is getting proper nutrients such as iron in right quantity or not. Need a suggestion, whether I can pump breast milk and use it to prepare home made cerelac.

    • Yes you can Ritika. Home made cerelac if including nuts is NOT required for a 6 month old. As of now you can stock to dal khichdis, mashed rice, soups, purees etc and start the homemade cerelac including nuts from 10th month onwards.

  12. Hi, my son is about 10 months old, i started giving him cow’s milk from he is 6 months old, i add in ragi porridge and some time mix with fruits. He is very cranky and loss weight. I was not aware that there is so much of disadvantage in cow’s milk untill i read your blog. Thank you for sharing it.
    Kindly advice what kind of food is adviceable for him and food durnig sick like fever, vomitting, cold.
    Can be ragi porridge make without adding milk?

    Please kindly advice. Thank you

  13. Hi, i have been giving cows milk to my son since he was 3 months and now he is 6 months. Will it affect his health. He is very cranky all the time and does not eat anythg. my milk is not enough for him and with formula milk he vomits everytime. Plz guide me. Tia..

  14. Hi sangeetha,
    Thanks for sharing such valuable information. Its certainly of great help to a new mom like myself who has apprehensions or doubts about introducing foods to my Lo
    My daughter completed 9 months yestrday and at her routine check with her pediac, he advised that wr clcould introduce cow’s milk , without diluting it, in small quantities. Like 100ml morn n nite. Have given her 100 ml last nite and as of now no signs of any adverse reactions to it ( could b too soon to expect a reaction)
    After reading ur post, im in a real dilemma on whether to continue with it or not!!:-)

    • Rhea, If she is fine, you can give. But as I said cow’s milk can never give the adequate amounts of iron and other vitamins required for your child. So better to stick to formula or breast milk till she turns 1.

  15. Just my curiosity, what about formula milk based with cow’s milk?
    And do u have any idea for FM based with goat’s milk?

  16. This is very useful information and good read, thank you Jayalekshmy and Sangeetha.
    As a Midwife and Childminder, I am faced with so many questions from parents that make you go ‘hmm, I’m not quite sure, but will find out’.
    Having people like you that can make time to share your knowledge makes our jobs a little easier.
    Thanks again.

  17. Radha Hariharan on

    Very good article, my son is now 20 months old and I was not aware that he can be fed with cheese. Thanks for the great information.
    We started cow’s milk after he was 1 year old
    Now a days he drinks minimum 300 ml of cow’s milk and atleast 100 to 200 ml of formula feed, is that fine or something should be reduced, his weight is 10.50 kgs.

  18. Very informative article. I really want more people to read it so that they understand what dairy products they can give before one year and what they shouldn’t

  19. Pingback: Why Cheese and Butter, But No Cow’s Milk For a Baby Until One Year? | KIDSBLOG.IN

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