Before the baby is six months old, only breast milk and formula milk can meet their nutritional needs. But in order to achieve the best growth and development, it is best to exclusively breastfeed, that is, not to give your baby any food or drink other than breast milk, including no water, but the baby can take oral rehydration salts, drops and syrups (vitamins, Minerals and drugs).

After the baby is six months old, the need for nutrition increases, and neither breast milk nor formula milk alone can provide sufficient nutrition for the baby. Therefore, it is necessary to add sufficient, safe and reasonable complementary food in time. But breast milk and/or formula milk should still be the baby's main food at this time.
Formula milk manufacturers use technical means to use animal milk as raw materials to simulate the composition of breast milk as much as possible. If babies under one-year-old do not breastfeed, the only suitable and safe one that can meet their main nutritional needs is formula milk. In some special cases, such as milk protein allergy, it is necessary to choose a formula with a deep hydrolysis formula or an amino acid formula under the guidance of a doctor.
 How old can a baby start drinking fresh milk?
There are three main reasons why babies under one-year-old are not suitable for drinking fresh milk.

1. The nutritional content and ratio of fresh milk are not suitable for babies under one year old. The content of iron, linoleic acid and vitamin E in fresh milk is low, while the content of sodium, potassium, chloride and protein is too high. If babies under one year old replace breast milk or formula milk with fresh milk, it will lead to nutritional imbalance, especially anemia. Babies over six years of age need to get rich iron from food, but the iron content in fresh milk is very low, and its high protein, high phosphorus and low vitamin C composition characteristics may also prevent babies from absorbing iron from other foods.

2.The baby's gastrointestinal tract is immature, especially for babies under six months old. Feeding fresh milk can easily lead to allergies, and even cause gastrointestinal bleeding and aggravate anemia. As they age, most babies become desensitized to milk protein.

3. The baby's kidneys are not yet mature. The high concentrations of protein, sodium, potassium and chloride in fresh milk will increase the burden on the kidneys and easily lead to dehydration.

But after 6 months, some fresh milk products can appear in the baby's complementary food, such as yogurt and cheese. They are derived from fresh milk and are different from fresh milk. Some of their proteins have been broken down by probiotics into small molecules that are easy to absorb, so babies at 6-12 months can also digest them; at the same time, due to the reduced milk protein content, it is not easy to cause severe allergic reactions. In addition, after adding complementary foods, if the baby is not allergic to milk protein, adding a small amount of fresh milk for the production of complementary foods (such as toast, cake) is no problem. It should be noted that you should not "drink" fresh milk before one year old. "Drinking" is easier to consume more than "eating". It is easy to replace breast milk or formula milk, and it is easy to cause nutritional problems.
How old can a baby start drinking fresh milk?
So when can babies drink regular fresh milk?

Babies can drink fresh milk after they reach one year old. At this time, there are more choices, but which one is the better choice, fresh milk or formula milk powder? (Note: Breast milk is still better than fresh milk and formula milk).

The Hong Kong Department of Health, the Department of Pediatrics of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Department of Children and Adolescent Sciences of the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong College of Pediatrics, the Hong Kong Society of Pediatrics and the Hong Kong Medical Association jointly recommend:

· Over one year old, you can drink fresh milk. One-year-old baby can get the nutrients they need from a diversified diet, and milk is only part of their balanced diet. Toddlers drink 360-480 ml of milk daily, which is roughly enough to provide the calcium they need. At this time, babies can already drink milk that is much cheaper than formula milk, including pasteurized milk, Tetra Pak pillow milk or whole milk powder, etc., without having to eat special growth-enhancing formula milk (ie 3 stages milk powder, 4 stages milk powder) to supplement extra nutrition.

· Toddlers under two years old should drink whole milk;

· 2-5 years old can drink low-fat milk;

· Over 5 years old can drink skimmed milk.

Western Australia Department of Health

Recommendations from the nutrition manual for toddlers aged 1-3:
How old can a baby start drinking fresh milk?
· After babies reach one year old, they can drink whole milk; after two years old, it is recommended to drink low-fat milk (to prevent obesity). Because of the high protein content and low iron content of milk, the daily intake should not exceed 500-600ml (Australia's recommended amount of milk is 250ml to 375ml per day for 1-2 years old; 2-3 years old: 375ml; 4-8 years old: 375-500 ml; 9-11 years old: 500-750 ml; 12-18 years old: 875 ml). This can also prevent the child's diet from not having enough food.

· Soy milk without fortified calcium (at least 100 mg of calcium per 100 grams of soy milk) is not recommended as a substitute for milk for babies; milk drinks such as goat milk, coconut milk, and almond milk are not recommended due to incomplete nutrition.

· Freshly squeezed raw milk contains harmful bacteria and cannot be consumed directly.

· Healthy babies do not need to drink three-stage and four-stage formula milk.

Recommendations of the British Nutrition Foundation:

Babies under two years old need to drink whole milk or yogurt (toddlers between 1-3 years old should drink about 300ml of milk per day). For babies who can eat well, he can drink semi-skimmed milk after he is two years old. Skimmed milk or milk with 1% fat content is not suitable for children under 5 years old. Milk products with fortified VD are more conducive to calcium absorption.

Recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
How old can a baby start drinking fresh milk?
· After the baby turns one year old, as long as a balanced complementary food (cereals, vegetables, fruits, and meat) is ensured, the baby can drink whole milk. Drink no more than 946 ml of milk per day. Exceeding this amount will cause the baby to intake too much calories and reduce their appetite for other foods.

· Most babies between one and two years old need to drink whole milk. If the baby is already overweight and at risk of obesity, or has a family history of obesity, high blood pressure, or heart disease, the pediatrician may recommend reduced fat milk (2% fat content). But note that your baby cannot drink low-fat milk or skimmed milk with a fat content of only 1% before the age of 2. The relatively high fat content in whole milk not only helps keep babies normal weight, but also helps them absorb vitamin A and vitamin D. In addition, low-fat/skimmed milk has a relatively higher concentration of protein and mineral salts, so it is not suitable for toddlers under 2 years old.

· For children from two to five years old, it is recommended that the daily milk intake does not exceed 500 ml to avoid affecting the iron storage in the body.

Three-stage and four-stage formula milk are suitable for toddlers over 1-year-old. Their commercial promotion is that they are more nutritious than milk because they add some vitamins and minerals. However, the third and fourth stages of formula milk are not necessary. In fact, no international authority on child nutrition recommends formula milk for children over one year old. There is no evidence that formula milk is better than fresh milk. Children after one year of age can already eat rich and balanced foods. They should also focus on rich and balanced foods and obtain those vitamins and minerals through family foods. For example, the nutrient elements such as iron, Omega-3 and prebiotics promoted in formula milk powder can be taken by children from meat, fish, cereals, vegetables and fruits. In other words, after one-year-old, milk is no longer the main source of nutrition for children but should be part of a balanced diet.
Formula milk is much sweeter than fresh milk, some children like it, and others don't. In general, fresh milk has higher protein (the high-quality protein in fresh milk can provide for growth), energy and sugar are lower than formula milk powder.
In addition, many formula milk gimmicks in advertisements are not true, such as: "helps improve baby's immunity" and "can make children smarter". In fact, there is no reliable evidence to support these claims. On the contrary, the view that breast milk may be beneficial to the baby’s intellectual development has been confirmed by some studies; the antibodies in breast milk can also help the baby to resist diseases (this is something formula milk cannot imitate, and fresh milk cannot do it).

Regardless of the reason for giving formula milk to baby, care should be taken to avoid excessive dependence on formula milk. Don't mistakenly think that formula milk is nutritious and neglect to provide children with a rich variety and reasonable diet. Some parents are worried that their children are picky eaters and partial eclipses lack nutrition, so they continue to drink formula milk for their babies. If your child is picky and partial, you can use formula milk as a transition, or you can choose fresh milk plus nutritional supplements. However, neither formula milk powder nor other forms of nutritional supplements can completely correct the nutritional imbalance caused by the partial eclipse.
Infants and young children are the golden age for cultivating healthy eating habits. Parents should spend more energy to provide children with a reasonable and diversified diet, and give them more healthy foods of different types, tastes and textures, so as to help children form a good diet habit during their growth.
How old can a baby start drinking fresh milk?
In conclusion

Before six months: It is best to exclusively breastfeed. If this is not possible, try breastmilk + formula milk, or if it is not possible neither, please try formula milk completely.

Between six months to one-year-old: reasonable add complementary food, breast milk and (or) formula milk should be the main source of nutrition.

Between one to two years old: The main source of nutrition is transitioned to family food, and milk is part of a balanced diet. Children of this age can drink whole milk.

After two years old: Children at risk of obesity can choose low-fat milk.

Formula milk does not have any magical function. The vitamins and minerals added in it can be taken by children through a rich and balanced diet, but formula milk contains higher energy and sugar than fresh milk, and children may be more likely to develop obesity. If parents choose to continue feeding formula milk to their children after one-year-old, they should never use it to replace a reasonable and balanced diet. In the long run, providing children with a diverse and balanced diet and cultivating good eating habits are more beneficial to their growth and development.