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Can Babies Have Semi-Skimmed Milk?

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Whether you’re looking for advice on baby-led weaning, or you’re wondering if it’s safe to offer certain food and drinks to your baby, it’s likely that at some point you’ve wondered, “can babies have semi-skimmed milk?”.

It’s generally recommended that babies be breastfed or given infant formula until they are at least 12 months old. After this age, full-fat cow’s milk can be introduced for additional nutrition.

Semi-skimmed milk can be offered once a child turns 2, although there are significant differences between these varieties of milk that can affect your child’s development. 

In this post…

    What is semi-skimmed milk and why should I wait to offer it to my baby? 

    When asking, ‘can babies have semi-skimmed milk’, it’s first useful to understand what it is and how it’s made.

    Semi-skimmed milk is a type of cow’s milk that has had some of the fat removed. Usually, the total fat content of semi-skimmed milk totals around 1.7%, which is significantly reduced when compared to whole full-fat milk, which has a fat content of around 3.5%.

    Semi-skimmed milk is produced through a process of separating the cream from the milk. The fat is then distributed evenly through the milk, before being pasteurised to kill off any bacteria that may be present.

    Babies need a lot of nutritionally rich substances in their diets to help with mental and physical development. It’s because of this that it is recommended parents and carers wait until after a child’s 2nd birthday before offering cow’s milk as a main drink. 

    If you are looking for further information regarding the question, “Can babies have semi-skimmed milk”, keep reading, as we will be discussing the following topics:

    • How Does Semi-Skimmed Milk Differ From Infant Formula?
    • Why Is Full-Fat Milk Healthier For Babies Than Semi-Skimmed Milk?
    • Can Semi-Skimmed Milk Be Used In Cooking? 
    • Can Babies Have Skimmed Milk?
    • What Can Happen If You Give Your Baby Semi-Skimmed Milk?

    Let’s take a look at each point in turn.

    How Does Semi-Skimmed Milk Differ From Infant Formula?

    Infant formula has been specifically manufactured to provide the necessary nutrition needed for infants that aren’t being or are only partly breastfed. Formula milk is regulated by the government to ensure that it contains the necessary nutrients and minerals needed to support healthy development. 

    On the other hand, semi-skimmed milk is not manufactured with infants in mind. It has not been fortified and does not contain the necessary levels of protein, fat, and other nutrients that are necessary for the growth and development of babies. 

    Additionally, one of the most significant nutrients needed for babies which is often lacking in cow’s milk is iron – formula milk and breast milk contain the right amount of iron for babies.

    Why Is Full-Fat Milk Healthier For Babies Than Semi-Skimmed Milk?

    When asking yourself ‘can babies have semi-skimmed milk?’, consider the amount of growth that your baby does within the first few years.

    Babies grow rapidly during their first years, and during these stages, children need a lot of nutrients to help their bodies develop properly. Full-fat cow’s milk is an excellent food source for babies as it’s rich in many of the nutrients that are needed to support their overall development. 

    Full-fat milk contains plenty of B vitamins, including B12 which supports red cells, and B2 which helps to convert your baby’s food into energy. Full-fat milk, as well as other full-fat dairy products, also supplies protein, fat, and carbohydrates, along with important minerals such as calcium and phosphorus to help build strong bones and teeth.

    The fat levels that full-fat milk provides are also an important source of calories for children. This is especially important as babies do not have the capacity to consume large amounts of calorific foods, but they still need nutrient-packed sustenance to grow. 

    Can Semi-Skimmed Milk Be Used In Cooking? 

    If you’ve been wondering ‘can babies have semi-skimmed milk’ because you’re worried about your own milk intake, don’t worry; it’s not necessary for the whole family to drink full-fat milk. When cooking meals for your family and baby to share during their baby-led weaning journey, it’s perfectly fine to use semi-skimmed milk, as long as you are providing full-fat milk for your baby’s drinks. 

    Once your baby has reached the age of 2 and has established healthy eating habits, you can start to slowly offer semi-skimmed milk as a drink instead of full-fat. 

    Can Babies Have Skimmed Milk?

    You’ve probably guessed it already, but the answer to this question is no. Skimmed milk is not recommended for babies or children under the age of 5. You can however use it in cooking from the age of 1.

    What Can Happen If You Give Your Baby Semi-Skimmed Milk?

    When answering “can babies have semi-skimmed milk”, it’s important to remember that semi-skimmed milk isn’t actually harmful for babies, it just isn’t as beneficial as full-fat milk. If you only have semi-skimmed at home, or you accidentally poured a drink of semi-skimmed instead of full-fat for your baby, no harm will come of it. Just be sure you offer full-fat as your baby’s main drink instead of semi-skimmed.

    Can My Baby Be Allergic To Cow’s Milk?

    Cow’s milk allergy is also referred to as cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) and is one of the most common childhood food allergies in the UK, yet despite this, it is still rare.

    Cow’s milk allergy usually occurs when cow’s milk is introduced to your baby’s diet either as part of an infant formula mix or during the weaning process when children are introduced to solids. On rare occasions, babies can become affected even if they are exclusively breastfed due to cow’s milk from the mother’s diet passing to the baby through breast milk.

    Symptoms can begin within minutes of having cow’s milk, or take several hours, or even days to appear. If you suspect your baby has an allergy to cow’s milk, seek medical assistance from your child’s GP. 

    Moving On From Breast or Formula Milk With Dairy Alternatives

    Although this article is addressing the key question: “Can babies have semi-skimmed milk?”, parents or carers may wish to offer children an alternative to dairy milk.

    There are many reasons for families to move on from formula milk by introducing dairy alternatives instead of cow’s milk. Some families may have restricted diets due to allergies whereas some families choose to lead a vegan lifestyle.

    Whatever the case may be, it is possible for children to drink unsweetened calcium-fortified milk alternatives such as soya, almost, and oat drinks from the age of 12 months as part of a healthy, balanced diet. 

    However, it’s important to note that toddlers and babies under the age of 5 should not be given rice drinks due to the level of arsenic they contain. 


    When considering ‘can babies have semi-skimmed milk’, it’s important to note that, although they can occasionally drink some semi-skimmed milk, it is significantly healthier to offer full-fat milk. It’s also advisable to only offer semi-skimmed milk to babies as a main drink when they are over the age of 2 and to never give your baby 1% or skimmed milk before their 2nd birthday as it doesn’t contain the necessary nutritional and mineral makeup needed for healthy development.

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