Transitioning From Breast Milk or Formula to Whole Milk

Written by: Laura Hunter, LPN & Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN



Time to read 2 min

We begin the transition to whole milk around one year of age. As long as there is no medical reason to have avoided dairy products, you have been preparing for this transition since your little one was born. Transitioning from breastmilk to whole milk is the same process as transitioning from formula to whole milk.


I think we can all agree this is almost as exciting as your little one taking a big fistful of their smash cake at their first birthday!


Over the last year, your little one has been taking in milk proteins from your breast milk and formula. We've also introduced cheese, yogurt, bread, and meals with dairy products. As we near the baby's first birthday, the main source of nutrition shifts from liquids (breast milk/formula) to solids. And "milk" becomes a supplement to get those healthy fats and calories each day.

Many families choose to nurse well past a year, and that is okay! You can still begin to offer sippy cups and dairy options as supplements. 


Now, let's see how to transition from formula to whole milk or from breast milk to whole milk.

Here Are Some Practical Tips to Keep in Mind When Transitioning From Breastmilk to Whole Milk:

  • About a week or two before the first birthday, begin to place whole milk in a sippy cup at mealtimes.
  • If the baby resists whole milk alone, we can do it gradually over 4 days.
    • Day 1: Offer 3 ounces of formula/breast milk with 1 ounce of whole milk.
    • Day 2: Offer half breast milk/formula and half whole milk.
    • Day 3: Offer 1-ounce breast milk/formula with 3 ounces of whole milk.
    • Day 4: Offer all whole milk.
  • Amounts of “milk” and/or dairy decrease to about 16oz per day.
    • This includes yogurt, smoothies, and any milk offered at mealtimes.
  • Use a variety of sippy cups.
    • Sometimes, a spouted cup with the stopper out will help in the beginning.
    • We also recommend trying to use cups with straws and open cups. Variety is key!
    • Here is a full list of recommended sippy cups.
  • They may seem to dislike it, but just keep in mind this is unfamiliar territory.
    • Allow that sippy cup to show up at each mealtime.
    • Stay confident, and the baby will follow! Be sure your face exudes confidence!
  • We can find options to get those healthy fats in.
    • So, we want to look at the overall menu and include:
      • Avocado, nut butter (always follow your pediatrician's guidelines for introducing high-allergen foods), full-fat Greek yogurt smoothies, bananas, butter, chicken (dark meat), cheese, full-fat sour cream, full-fat cream cheese, eggs, and salmon.
  • Have Fun!
    • Offer a variety of options & let it show up at each meal opportunity!
  • If there are any issues with growth and development, we always recommend speaking with your pediatrician.

Not quite to your first birthday?

Be sure to check out "Introducing Solids, Including Peanuts and Other Allergens with Mission MightyMe" and "Fun Finger Mushable Foods".

Co-Founders of Moms on Call

Laura Hunter, LPN and Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN

Co-Founders of Moms on Call, Pediatric Nurses and Moms to 8 kids between them, Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker created Moms on Call to simplify parenting. Through their books, online courses, podcast and content, they help parents everywhere navigate the first four years with confidence and better sleep.

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