Cow's milk should be introduced after 12 months. Here is our perspective based on some logic and facts in context as to why even healthcare professionals recommend cow's milk after 12 months.
If you or someone you know plan to introduce cow's milk before 12 months, do know the reasons.
Nutrient Fulfillment: Babies get sufficient nutrients from breast milk (or formula). Also, consider adequately diversified weaning food from 6+ months onwards. It is sufficient for babies' overall growth and development. Cow's milk is perceived as a complete meal but it also lacks certain nutrients. (remember that dairy products are a part of five food groups.) Replacing cow's milk with breastmilk (or formula) may not completely solve the purpose of nutrients.
Digestion & Intolerance: Cow's milk is not easy to digest when compared to breast milk (or formula). And before 12 months, babies do not have fully developed and matured digestive systems. Therefore, cow's milk may cause constipation or gastrointestinal discomfort among babies. Introducing cow's milk before the proper age may increase the chances of lactose intolerance.
Protein & Sodium: Compared to breastmilk (or formula), cow's milk has a higher amount of protein and sodium content. Babies' kidneys are not fully developed before 12 months, so excess sodium may create strain on their kidneys. (Same reason added salt is not to be introduced in weaning food before 12 months).
Iron Absorption: Iron consumption is important among babies but Iron content in cow's milk is not easily absorbable. While breast milk (or formula) contains Iron that is easy to absorb. Introducing cow's milk replacing breast milk (or formula) may increase the chances of anemia.
It is a wise idea to start weaning food for 6+ months babies in conjunction with breastmilk (or formula). An adequately diversified diet will provide sufficient nutrients and calories babies require for their overall growth and development.
Cow's milk has become a part of daily life but as a matter of fact, cow's milk is for calf to fulfill their nutrients. If not vegan, then it is good to introduce cow's milk after 12 months as by then babies body is developed to tolerate cow's milk.
All babies are not the same. Do consult your pediatrician before introducing cow's milk for the right advice.