I found it interesting to compare the attitudes in the US and Spain towards cows milk, formula (“leche de continuacion”) and breastfeeding. It’s amazing to me how arbitrary many of the guidelines are, which suggests to me that 1) there’s a lot of leeway and 2) making parents feel guilty is a great way to sell stuff.
In Spain, infant formula cannot be marketed to infants younger than 6 months. The manufacturers have got around this rule by calling their 6-12 months formula “leche de continuación 2”, which obviously implies you should have started with #1.
The formula manufactures have also convinced people in Spain that you cannot start giving cows milk until 24 months. Compared to the US, where the National Institute of Health recommends started infants at 9 months with small amounts of cows milk and going full out at 12 months.
Perhaps it has something to do with the vast number of varieties milk that you can get here… it’s not just whole, 2% or skim, you can have milk enriched with calcium, vitamins, fiber, phosphorous, zinc, omega-3, omega-6, folic acid, probiotics and anything else you can think of.
My guess is that these guidelines tend to be the result of lobbying more than anything else (eg this headline “Triumph for Science in Infant Formula Milk Ruling”, which should really read “Triumph for Dairy Industry in Infant Formula Milk Ruling”), so I don’t stress out about it anymore.
Of course, this doesn’t stop our relatives from telling us that giving cows milk before two years is going to kill our kids.