January 10th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

Should I give my 1-year-old milk?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Jin of Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

My daughter is 1 year old now. Do I need to switch from formula to cow's milk? I heard that formula has more vitamins and minerals that the baby needs than milk. Therefore, my question is what the differences are between milk and formula and which one is better for a 1-year-old baby's growth and development?

Expert answer:

Thanks for your question! At 1 year of age, most babies may switch from breast milk or infant formula to whole milk. However, the availability of toddler formulas gives parents another option for children from the ages of about 10 months to 3 years.

Both whole milk and toddler formula are rich in calcium, vitamin D, and protein. However, formula is further fortified with nutrients such as iron, vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals and in some instances also with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Most children are able to obtain adequate nutrition from whole milk alongside a balanced diet of solid foods, although picky eaters or those who are slower to take on table foods may benefit from the added ingredients in a toddler formula or a multivitamin supplement.

Parents may find the option of continuing to use powder formula to be convenient in the early years, but keep in mind that it is typically much more expensive than using regular milk. I would suggest talking with your child's pediatrician about your daughter's growth and developmental history as well as her current diet to see which option is best for you.

Good luck!

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.