Transitioning Baby to Whole Milk – See These Tips

Toddlers who are not breastfeeding, with no food allergies, and not excessively picky eaters will start drinking whole milk once they reach 12 months old. 

If your toddler does not drink whole milk, the toddler formula is an alternative because it is available in soy and elemental formulations. Since they are iron-fortified, if your toddler is actually a really picky eater, toddler formulas can also be a good option.

Here are some tips and ideas you need to know to make this transition successful. 

Transitioning Baby to Whole Milk - See These Tips
Image Source: Healthline

Making the Switch: Overview

There are many ways for this transition to be accomplished. Some parents take a “cold turkey” approach and, once their baby is 12 months old, simply convert all their child’s cups or bottles to whole milk. When you have an easy-going baby that adapts well to change, this works. 

A more gradual approach typically fits best for a child who is more resistant to change. For instance, every few days or weeks, you could substitute one bottle of formula with a cup of whole milk

You could start mixing formula and milk together if your baby refuses the milk. Just add a little milk at first, so that your baby is mainly consuming the formula. 

Start to put more and more milk in the bottles every few days so that your child gets used to the taste. You will eventually move to only getting milk in the bottles and no formula at all.

Tip 1: Do It Gradually

Start by mixing some whole milk into your breast milk, allowing your little one to get used to it, and then, after a few days, gradually raise the amount of whole milk mixed into your breast milk. 

Do this process as long as it takes, they can finally be fully converted to whole milk in a way that helps their body and their taste buds to get used to the transition (rather than making a jarring “cold turkey” switch).

Tip 2: Decide Whether You Will Use Bottles or Cups

Should you also turn to sippy cups when you turn from formula to whole milk? Or is it easier to put milk in a bottle and then make a move to cups? Again, it’s probably based on your kids. 

You may want to try making both changes at once if you have a child with an easy-going attitude that adapts well to change. If you think it’s going to be too hard for your kids, first turn to milk and get rid of the bottles later on.

Tip 3: Sneak It In Their Food

Use it to blend their oatmeal or cereal, baked baby-led weaning favorites such as mini muffins or nutritious “cookies,” or stirred into pureed fruits. Consider slipping tiny volumes of whole milk into your little one’s foods. 

This can also help their body get used to full milk, all while enjoying their favorite go-to. Ideally, you want your child to have some of his milk taken straight, at least. 

But it’s totally acceptable to splash some of his daily allotment over oatmeal, instead of water, or blend it in a smoothie (as long as he slurps up what’s left in the bowl after the Cheerios are all gone). Also, you can mix milk into soups or mashed potatoes. 

Tip 4: Warm It Up

Your breast milk was at your body temperature, and you probably heated the formula, so it could be a shock to give your baby cold cow’s milk. It will make the transition simpler to prepare cow’s milk in the same way you prepared their formula.

Tip 5: Know Your Plan B

If all else fails and your kid, no matter what you do, turns up his little button nose in milk, go ahead and give him yogurt, cheese, and other calcium-rich foods. 

Just be aware that most alternative calcium sources appear not to have sufficient quantities of vitamin D, so look for foods that have added Vitamin D if you go that path, and let your pediatrician know what’s going on. A supplement may be recommended for your child.

Transitioning Baby to Whole Milk - See These Tips
Image Source: Sarah Remmer


If your family doesn’t have a background of food allergies, you’ve probably been giving your baby some milk in the form of yogurt and cheese since they were about 6 months old. But you shouldn’t experience signs of allergy, although it’s likely. 

Occasionally, lactose intolerance will develop soon after the first birthday (although this is rare), so keeping an eye on your child for the first week or so after making the switch is always a good idea.