My son is almost 14 months and we've chosen to keep him on formula. We use HIPP Organic formula 6 months+. He has 1 or 2 9oz bottles of formula per day.
As far as I can see, no one actually recommends switching to cow's milk. Doctors/pediatricians/health visitors etc just say "you can if you like".
Our reasons for sticking with formula are:
- I can't find a health benefit or any other reason to switch (other than saving money).
- Cow's milk is very low in iron, the iron it contains is not well-absorbed and cow's milk also causes slight intestinal bleeding... over time, it can cause anemia. As formula contains plenty of iron, it's unlikely to cause anemia!
- Since his first birthday, my son has become a very picky eater. When I say picky, I mean he will generally eat little to nothing between waking up and 5pm! I feel he's better off having 9oz of formula at breakfast time than 9oz of cow's milk... especially as he won't eat/will only drink at that time.
- When we're done with formula (hopefully by his 2nd birthday), I don't think cow's milk as a regular thing is healthy. It contains all sorts of nasty things (e.g. dairy cows are given hormones to increase there milk supply x 10) and there are plenty of other calcium rich foods out there that he can eat without many of the health risks that come with cow's milk.
If my son wasn't born with a tongue tie, I would have breastfeed until he self-weaned. Humans are the only mammals to drink milk beyond infancy... I wouldn't have given him cow's milk at all.
As for full fat vs semi-skimmed: Babies/toddlers need fats for brain/nerve development, which is why full fat is supposedly better for them. Semi skimmed milk contains chemical whitener so it depends how you feel about your child drinking that on a daily basis... then again, people argue if their child eats cheese/yogurt regularly they don't need to have full fat milk and can have semi skimmed.
It's your decision what you do... some people say growing up milk is a money making scheme, but I know I'd prefer to give my son that over standard cow's milk. As I said, we use the HIPP Organic 6m+ formula, which is not only organic, but is the cheapest on the shelf! It works out cheaper than the HIPP Organic 12m+ too... go figure.