When Alexia was 2 months old, I left her with her dad for the first time to go wedding dress shopping with my sister-to-be. I thought I had everything organized with breastmilk expressed and stored up in the freezer. As I was leaving the boutique, my husband calls me frantically, asking why I hadn’t defrosted any milk, apparently Alexia was starving! Since I was on my way home anyway, I hastily told him there was a little in the fridge from that morning he could feed her while he melted the rest. Later that afternoon, at her next feed, I went to the fridge, only to find that leftover milk still there. I soon realized she had been given cow’s milk! I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I knew it was definitely BAD to give an 8 week old baby cow’s milk.
By now I was freaking out, so I started researching some medical journals. Like many moms, I had heard about possibly triggering a cow’s milk allergy. Although my baba did develop a slight body rash, she showed no signs of a severe allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, turning blue, extremely pale or weak, generalized hives, swelling in the head and neck region, bloody diarrhea). The most common symptoms of milk allergy are rashes, stomach cramps, vomiting and /or diarrhea. Both formula and breastmilk (if mom consumes dairy products) contain the protein found in cow’s milk. So babies are exposed to it from day 1, and thus if a true allergy is present, they should react very early (but this not very common).
The danger of cow’s milk to all infants is when it is given as a replacement for breastmilk or formula in a baby under the age of 1. Cow’s milk does not have sufficient vitamins and minerals to meet your little one’s needs at this stage (especially vitamin E, zinc and iron).
The feeding of cow’s milk to young infants is not recommended because it can lead to iron deficiency if given regularly. Cows milk also contains large amounts of elements like sodium, chloride and potassium which, over time, affects the baby’s kidneys and increases the risk of severe dehydration if your child becomes ill with something like gastro.
However, these negative effects of drinking cow’s-milk seems to be limited to the first year of life (unless a true allergy is present). Thereafter, no negative effects are observed, provided that cow’s milk (up to a maximum daily intake of 500 mL) is adequately complemented with iron-enriched foods.
Note to self: until baba is a yr old, let’s leave cow’s milk for the baby cow’s 😉