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Do you think this really happened? Re: giving straight cows milk to a newborn?

I was told recently by my grandmother that one of my aunts gave her newborn regular cow's milk instead of formula. She said that once the free samples from the hospital ran out my aunt would just give her kids cows milk in a bottle. She said she disapproved of it but my aunt did it anyway. I don't have the courage to ask my aunt if this is true. I know they used to do a lot of crazy things with babies back in the day, but this just seems outlandish to me. Anyone know someone older who fed their infants just cow's milk? Do you think this could be a true story? Would an infant even survive a diet purely consisting of straight cow's milk?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 4:51 PM on Oct. 24, 2009 in General Parenting

Answers (25)
  • Absolutely! Many infants survived a diet of just cows milk. Granted they probably were not very healthy babies, but that is what many people used to do and it is still done in other cultures. I have heard of people giving goats milk too. That is supposed to be better than cows milk, but still not enough nutrients.

    Answer by micheledo at 4:57 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • I don't know if it would kill them, but I would imagine the baby would be feeling incredibly unhappy and making life majorly unpleasant for those around him/her. Part of the reason we give them formula/breastmilk is that they are unable to digest cow's milk. I know my grandmother told me they used to give them....I'm thinking she said sweetened condensed milk, diluted of course, as formula back when my dad was a baby (the 50s).

    Answer by tropicalmama at 4:59 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • Back then cows milk didn't have all of the hormones and crap in it like it does today so yes, many people did that instead of formula for their babies. Neither of my parents ever had formula they were always given cows milk or evaporated milk.

    Answer by KalebsMommee at 5:00 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • of course i'd believe that.
    How do you think woman who could not breastfeed managed to care for their children before formula was invented?

    Answer by outstandingLove at 5:19 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • My grandmother gave my dad sweetened condensed milk when he was a baby. She had a twilight sleep birth and the terrible things that they did to her to get my dad out took over 15 surgeries to fix. She hated my dad from the moment she saw him and refused to even touch him until she was all put back together, he was almost a year old by that time. She was and still in a mean and nasty woman at 98 years old.

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:55 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • Yes, I was never on formula i drank goats milk my first year.

    Answer by Mrs_Harsh at 5:57 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • That's not a stretch. Years ago before formula was invented, and if a woman couldn't nurse, what do you think she gave her baby? Like someone else pointed out, back then, the cows weren't pumped up with hormones so the milk was alot healthier than it is now. My aunt used to give my cousins diluted canned milk. I have a friend who has 7 kids and she didn't produce enough milk after the first 4 and her daughter was lactose intolerant and couldn't tolerate formula or milk. This was 20 something years ago before all the different lactose free formulas were available. She gave her carrot juice the first year of her life. She actually turned orange!

    Answer by Bethsunshine at 6:13 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • It is dangerous to give a baby cow's milk or goat's milk. The practice is associated with high morbidity (illness) and high mortality (death) rate. Each mammal's milk is specific for that mammal. Cow's milk is made for rapid growth. Human milk is made for brain development. Give cow's milk to a human baby and you get growth but the brain suffers.

    Until the invention of formula and evaporated milk women that could not breastfeed would hire a wet nurse or have another woman nurse her baby for her.

    Here is some info about the history of formula

    Answer by Gailll at 6:23 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • OP here: I can believe cows milk was given but just cows milk? No sugar or corn syrup, nothing to doctor it up to make it more like formula or breast milk? Just feeding a newborn human what a calf would have been fed?

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:25 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

  • Yes, sometimes there was nothing else to give the baby. Remember there were times of terrible poverty, maternal death, and lack of education. Probably as late as the 1930's and 1940's but certainly in the earlier part of the century. Was it ideal no, did many babies suffer because of it, yes, but you did what you could to survive.

    Answer by teamquinn at 6:34 PM on Oct. 24, 2009

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