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Mother’s milk is the best thing for a baby, as with a still-developing immune system, she would best be able to digest her mother’s milk. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommends and promotes breast milk as the ultimate nutrition for a baby. However, if for some reason breastfeeding is not possible, or the baby’s demand for milk cannot be met, cow or buffalo milk can also be given after the baby turns one.
When to Introduce Cow or Buffalo Milk to Your Child
Infants have a developing immune system which is not strong. Hence, they may find it difficult to digest animal milk. Though both cow and buffalo milk contain minerals and proteins, they are not suited for infants as they can affect their kidneys if introduced before the age of one year. Thus, the best time to introduce them to your baby is after she turns one.
Cow Milk or Buffalo Milk – Which Is Better?
1. Fat content
Cow milk has lower fat content than buffalo milk. Hence, cow milk is thinner in consistency as compared to buffalo milk. Your 1-year-old infant would find it easier to digest cow milk than buffalo milk.
Buffalo milk has a higher percentage of protein content than cow milk (approximately 11% more). This high protein content generates heat resistance and is difficult for babies to digest. Hence, cow milk is more soothing for a baby’s system. If you still wish to feed your baby buffalo milk, do so in small quantities.
Buffalo milk is a rich source of calcium which is essential for the development of the bones. Children need calcium for their overall growth and to develop strength and height. Hence, as a source of calcium, buffalo milk is better for children above one year of age.
4. Calorific value
Cow milk is lower in calories as compared to buffalo milk – thus, buffalo milk can be enriching for infants over the age of one year.
The water content in cow milk is higher than in buffalo milk. Hence, consumption of cow milk can be beneficial as it can keep your baby hydrated.
Each baby is unique and their digestion capabilities vary. Buffalo milk for infants may be preferred as it is richer in fat content, protein, calcium, and calorific value, making it more beneficial than cow milk. However, it may be difficult for an infant to digest it. Cow milk is easier to digest and keeps the baby more hydrated. As a mother, you can try both in small quantities and see which one suits your baby better.
1. How Much Milk Should Your Kid Drink in a Day?
- 0-4 months: 473 ml – 700ml
- 4-12 months: 828ml – 1330 ml
- 1-2 years: 473 ml – 700ml
- 2-3 years: 2 cups
- 4-8 years: 2.5 cups
- 9 years and above: 4 cups
Please note that the number of cups recommended is inclusive of all dairy products, like cow milk, buffalo milk, soy milk, yoghurt, cheese, etc.
2. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Milk- Which One Is Good for Your Toddler?
Ideally, toddlers can be fed whole milk as it can provide your baby with high fat content that helps with weight gain. It even helps in the absorption of vitamin A and D. Low fat or fat-free milk is richer in proteins and minerals which are tough for babies and toddlers to digest and can affect their kidneys. Post the age of two years, you can feed your child low-fat or fat-free milk.
3. Organic vs Hormone-Free Cow Milk for Toddler – Which Is Best?
There is no evidence that organic milk or hormone-free milk is a better option for toddlers. However, should you choose to introduce your baby to cow milk, you can go for the organic variant – it may pinch your pocket a little harder. What’s most important is that the milk needs to be pasteurised before consumption. Unpasteurised animal milk contains parasites and bacteria that can harm your child. There have been incidents of children falling severely ill after consuming unpasteurised milk, which has led to the loss of life.
Tips to Introduce Milk to Your Toddler
- Start with giving your baby/toddler milk during mealtimes only.
- If your baby doesn’t like the taste, mix it with some breast milk or formula and see how she reacts.
- Start off slow. Remember that after one year of age, milk will be a part of the toddler’s meal and not the entire meal itself.
- Watch out for signs of allergy to milk. If you notice symptoms like swelling of the lips, rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea, or blood in the stools, immediately and rush to the doctor.
- Consult your doctor before you start feeding your child milk regularly.
So, while breastfeeding is the best bet for your child, cow and buffalo milk can be used as substitutes after your young one completes a year. While introducing animal milk, you must keep in mind the important aspects like its effect on the kidneys, its pasteurisation, how often you clean the feeding bottle. Milk is a major source of calcium so it must be included in your baby’s diet judiciously. While buffalo and cow milk for a newborn may have its benefits, it is always important to consult your doctor before you add it to your baby’s diet.
Resources and References: Today’s Parent
Also Read: Goat Milk for Babies