Dropping milk feeds at 10 to 12 months

With solids rapidly replacing your baby’s milk feeds, do you know how and when to drop the bottles?

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How much milk does your baby need?

Your baby should still be having about a pint (600ml) of breastmilk or formula a day until he’s 12 months old, but once he’s fully established on solids and eating well, you may find he doesn’t want as much milk. Milk is still vital at this stage as it provides calcium, which is necessary for developing bones and strong teeth.

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You should continue to offer breast, formula or follow-on milk until your baby is one year old, as cow’s milk doesn’t contain enough iron or vitamin D to be used as a main drink. However, you can use cow’s milk on your baby’s cereal or in other forms such as yoghurt or a cheese sauce – useful if his milk intake is dropping and you need to keep his calcium topped up. Find out more about how to introduce cow’s milk.

Is your baby ready to drop a feed?

Between nine and 12 months, your baby may drop another one or two feeds, as he starts getting more nutrition from solids, taking him down to two to three feeds a day. Often, it’s the early morning feed that goes at this stage, as your baby may not be as hungry when he wakes up, and is able to wait until breakfast.

If your baby is ready to drop his morning feed, make sure he’s getting a filling and iron-rich breakfast, such as fortified cereal or porridge, or egg on toast. Offer a milk feed after breakfast; if he doesn’t want a bottle or breastfeed, you can give him milk from a cup with breakfast instead.

If you’re breastfeeding, continue to offer the breast at your usual times, or feed your baby on demand. If you’re bottle-feeding, you’ll probably be able to replace one or two of the daily milk feeds with a cup of milk or water and a snack, but continue to give your baby some formula until a year old, usually with breakfast and at bedtime.

What if he goes off milk completely?

If your child goes off milk, you’ll need to be a bit inventive to ensure he’s getting enough calcium and other nutrients. Increase the amount of dairy produce he eats by giving him regular portions of yoghurt, custard and fromage frais, add grated cheese to foods such as mashed potato, and offer cheese cubes as a finger food. Making up his morning cereal with plenty of milk will also count towards his total. If he’s dropped his bedtime milk, he may start waking hungry during the night, so try moving his tea forward a little, and then giving him a filling supper, such as milky porridge, before bed.

What if he still wants as much milk as ever?

Drinking lots of milk isn’t necessarily a problem, as long as it’s not affecting your child’s appetite for solids. If he still wants regular breastfeeds or bottles, just make sure you’re offering them after meals, not before, so that he fills up on solids rather than milk. Also remember to keep offering water – it might be that he’s just thirsty.

If you feel your baby should have cut out a certain milk feed by now, try offering water or milk from a cup instead, alongside a snack. Some babies like the comfort of a breast- or bottle feed more than the milk itself.

Your baby’s typical daily meal plan

Breakfast: cereal and milk, diluted fruit juice, water or a small cup of formula
Milk: 4oz formula or a breastfeed, after breakfast or before a nap
Mid-morning: snack
Lunch: savoury main course, dessert, drink of water
Mid afternoon: snack
Tea: cooked main course, fresh fruit, water. 4oz formula or breastfeed
Bedtime: 7oz formula or breastfeed

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All babies are different, and this information is intended only as a guide. If you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding habits or the amount of milk he’s drinking, talk to your health visitor or doctor.

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