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Here in France, I understand it's common for kids to stay on formula until age 3. I've heard they stop around 2 in the US? Anyway, our current routine for our 2y9mo daughter is a bottle in the morning and one in the evening.

Does she still need formula? Or, more precisely, what would be lacking (or gained) by cow's milk? Does it need to be whole?

How much milk should she be drinking per day?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed breast milk or iron-fortified formula during the first 12 months of life. Between ages 4 - 6 months, certain solid foods may be added. Breast milk or iron-fortified formula, along with age-appropriate solid foods and juices during the first year of life, provides more balanced nutrition... (Source: Medline Plus)

Toddler formulas are offered as added nutrition for toddlers who are picky eaters. To date, they have not been shown to be better than whole milk and multivitamins. They are also expensive. (Source: Medline Plus)

Young children who drink cow’s milk increase their stores of vitamin D, but decrease their iron levels. According to the study, “The Relationship Between Cow’s Milk and Stores of Vitamin D and Iron in Early Childhood,” in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online Dec. 17, 2012), two cups of cow’s milk per day is sufficient to maintain adequate vitamin D levels for most children, while also maintaining sufficient iron stores. (Source: AAP)

There are disagreements about the fat content of the milk a child should drink (some say whole milk in small children because they need the fat source to fuel growth, some say that reduced fat milk is better past age 2 because saturated fats are not good for weight or artery health, and recent studies debunk the link between whole milk and obesity in children.)

There are also issues regarding the hormone content of milk and its effects on development in children:

It has been postulated that ingested estrogen in food derived from sex-hormone-treated animals may play a role in earlier development of puberty and increasing risk of breast cancer. However, no studies have supported this hypothesis in humans. (Source: AAP)

And there is a movement afoot that suggests people should not drink cow's milk at all (they don't in many countries), but the NIH has found no evidence that it is bad for humans as long as there is no allergy, lactose-intolerance, or anemia (see the link for symptoms).

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To add to this excellent answer: our kids' doctor told us to switch to regular cow milk when they were 6 months old, and just give them iron drops. A lot cheaper and easier than getting formulas. – Diego Mijelshon Jun 9 '13 at 1:55
One thing, though: in the US, milk usually has vitamin D added. This is not the case in France. – Kricket Apr 20 '15 at 7:42

Usually, it's 1 year. But for us when our lo turned 1, his ped recommended to keep giving him formula for another year, along with regular milk. So, he is getting mix of both currently.

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