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A Guide To Introducing Cow’s Milk To Your Baby

February 18, 2021 5 min read

how to introduce milk to your baby

Introducing allergens to your baby early on is essential to helping lower your little one’s risk of allergies later in life. Affecting between 2% and 3% of children younger than 3 years old, one of the most common food allergiesin young children is cow’s milk. While up to 20% of those children may outgrow this allergy by age 4, this allergy can have a huge impact on your child’s quality of life. 

Though we know milk can be found in dairy products, there are also many hidden sources of milk. It can be found in processed foods, baked goods, and processed meats and even if a food is labeled "milk-free" or "nondairy," it may still contain allergy-causing milk proteins.

Thanks to landmark clinical studies, we now know that introducing babies to cow’s milk early and consistently, before they turn one, is essential in giving them the healthy growth and thriving tummies they will need as they age.

When To Introduce Milk To Baby

The 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines suggests that, along with most allergenic foods, milk proteins should be introduced to children with solids around 4-6 months of age, however, they caution against offering cow's milk as a beverage until your child is 12 months old.  

With landmark clinical studies like the EAT study, we now know that consistently and strategically introducing the allergenic protein of cow’s milk starting around 4 months of age has a protective effect against milk allergies.

As one of the most prominent allergy-causing foods in infants and children, cow’s milk is an important nutritional addition when introducing solids.

How To Introduce Milk To Baby

According to the USDA, “cow’s milk, as a beverage, should be introduced at age 12 months or later” in addition to water and juice. 

Cow’s milk should not be used as a substitute for formula or breastmilk, but the allergenic protein can be introduced as a nutritional supplement alongside other solids when your baby reaches 4-6 months of age.

Here are some of our favorite ways to help your child adjust to this important allergen throughout their first year of life:


From 4-12 Months
  • Early Allergen Introduction Powder - Food allergen introduction powder, like SpoonfulONE’s Mix-ins, is an easy, hassle-free way to introduce your children to milk and other allergenic foods. These powders can easily be mixed into breastmilk or formula and bottle-fed, or mixed into purees, applesauce, or oatmeal.
  • Plain Yogurt & Ricotta Cheese - Both are safe options as your baby starts eating solids. Be sure that they’re free of additives, flavors, and that they’re made with whole milk. Start with plain whole-milk yogurt and move into whole-milk ricotta as your baby starts eating thicker purees and solid foods.
  • Early Allergen Puffs - As your child ages, you can transition from allergen powders to more solid puffs. SpoonfulONE’s Puffs are designed to easily dissolve with saliva and are the perfect finger foods for growing infants. Puffs are recommended for babies at least 6+ months or older.

12+ Months

While the recommendation is to start allergen introduction between 4-6 months, it is never too late.

  • Early Allergen Oat Crackers - As your child transitions from infancy to childhood, SpoonfulONE’s Oat Crackers make consistent diet diversity a long term and delicious habit. Once your baby has been enjoying puffs for some time, is feeding themselves with their fingers, and is actively biting and chewing food, you’ll want to try small pieces of other foods that dissolve really quickly like crackers.
  • Mix Cow’s Milk Into Existing Diet - You can also sneak milk into your child’s everyday foods, like pouring some over their cereal, mixing in oatmeal, blending in a smoothie, or mixing in soups, mashed potatoes, or mac and cheese.
  • Introduce Cow’s Milk as a Beverage - Like any other food, cow’s milk may not be accepted by your child right away. To help with the transition, you can try mixing it into a more familiar milk, like breastmilk or formula, and let them drink from a bottle, sippy cup, or regular cup. 

What’s the Difference Between a Milk Allergy and Lactose Intolerance

A milk intolerance and milk allergy are often confused, since both are sensitivities to milk protein, and both share similar symptoms. However, a milk allergy involves the immune system and an intolerance involves the digestive system. 

If your baby has a food allergy to milk, it means that their immune system has identified the milk protein as harmful and overreacts. You will know right away or within a couple of hours after feeding if they have an allergy. The most common symptoms of a milk allergy include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Rashes or hives
  • Breathing difficulties

As milk is a widely used ingredient, if your child is allergic to cow's milk, you'll want to avoid foods with this ingredient such as cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt, butter, and powdered milk. Though cow’s milk is the usual cause of a milk allergy, children can also react to milk from other mammals like sheep, goats, or buffalos. Individuals who are allergic to cow’s milk may also be allergic to soy milk, but it is less likely. 

Alternatively, babies who are intolerant have an inability to digest lactose into simple sugar. This will also be noticeable within a few minutes or hours of ingesting, but does not include symptoms such as swelling or rashes. Other symptoms may be similar, and can include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea 
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Supplement your lactose-intolerant child's diet with other sources of calcium and vitamin D to ensure his healthy development.

If you are unsure if your child is experiencing an allergy or intolerance, visit your pediatrician.


Why SpoonfulONE’s Mix-ins for Early Allergen Introduction 

At SpoonfulONE, it was our mission to create a safer and more convenient way to expose children to cow’s milk and other allergens early and consistently. A comprehensive system designed to be given to your baby starting at 4+ months, we take the guesswork out of multi-allergen introduction. 

  • Safety -We used landmark research like LEAP and EAT to inspire our science, but we didn’t stop there. Our founder, Dr. Kari Nadeau, the Director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University, invested in and conducted her own proprietary research. This research showed that the diverse mix of ingredients in SpoonfulONE helped increase IgG4 (protective antibodies) in children after feeding SpoonfulONE for a year.
  • Efficiency - The most comprehensive early allergen introduction* program, SpoonfulONE includes the 9 food groups responsible for over 90% of food allergies. Each packet contains a very small amount of peanuts, milk, shellfish (shrimp), tree nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts), egg, fish (cod and salmon), grains (oats and wheat), soy, and sesame.
  • Convenience - When you introduce a multi-allergen routine to your infant, the preparation of each ingredient every day can take up a ton of time. SpoonfulONE helps give you your time back. Our system helps eliminate the fear, confusion, and guesswork out of introducing new foods to babies.

Although very important, cow’s milk is just one of the 9 food groups associated with over 90% of food allergies. Unlike other products on the market that only cover peanuts, milk, or eggs, SpoonfulONE is a comprehensive system that covers 16 of these essential food groups.



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